Conflicting opinions, without conflict

When clashing political views threatened a longtime friendship, today’s contributor found that learning more about God as Love enabled her to nurture compassion and patience rather than anger and intolerance, and harmony was restored.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
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After years of enjoying shared interests and an enriching and supportive friendship, as politics, health care, and other major issues increasingly dominated the news I found I was at odds with every opinion of one of my good friends. If I expressed my views, we argued; if I kept silent, I felt stifled.

It wasn’t that my friend had to agree with my views, or I with hers. I just wanted to preserve the friendship and to restore the kindness in our communications.

With no solution emerging, I turned to prayer, something that has been helpful to me so consistently. When I feel close to God, I feel inspired to do good; my heart feels uplifted, and I feel united heart to heart with my neighbor.

At first my prayer was to mentally draw a big heart of love, put the problem in it, and turn it over to God without thinking more about it. This was comforting but, I soon realized, not enough.

I decided to look closely at the values my views were based on. They included the desire for safety, stability, balance, truth, wisdom, and freedom. I knew these were the kinds of values behind my friend’s views too. Then I realized that these are actually universal qualities because they are spiritual, from God.

The Bible teaches that God is Love (see I John 4:8). Divine Love, God, governs all creation with safety and wisdom. Love’s care is stable; there is no imbalance. Love’s truth is naturally expressed in God’s spiritual offspring, both male and female. When our thoughts and actions are inspired by this spiritual reality, we experience more peace.

This wasn’t easy. My first attempt to apply and affirm these ideas left me overwhelmed. However, I felt a deep conviction that I should persist. I found a supportive statement in the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy. It reads, “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (p. 248).

From studying Christian Science, I understand these “perfect models” to be a spiritual perception of the nature of life. They start with the understanding that God is good and therefore produces only good. Personal opinions cannot alter, influence, or change the spiritual fact of everyone’s true goodness as Love’s divine expression.

Humbly, I opened my thought to expressing more qualities of Love, such as compassion and patience. I mentally claimed that God is always present and governing. As I consistently did this, my friend’s views no longer irritated or angered me; they no longer threatened my feeling of safety and security. I felt secure in knowing God’s care is universally inclusive.

This friendship of many years continues. We still have different opinions about things such as politics and health care, but respect, kindness, and good humor have been restored. And I learned an important lesson: In God’s love, there is unvarying peace and joy.

Christ Jesus said, “When thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matthew 6:6). Our “closet” is mental – turning to God in prayer. Shutting the door includes establishing mentally that nothing can separate us or anyone from the limitless good divine Love has for all of us. And we are “rewarded” with inspiration that meets our needs.

Each of us can, through prayer, truly know God as Love and learn more about our very special relation to God as Love and to one another as God’s precious children. This lifts intolerance and anger from our hearts and minds.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.