Resolving conflict by recognizing God’s goodness

A stubborn refusal to budge can be disastrous to relationships and progress. But when we put willfulness aside and instead let God lead the way, solutions naturally and harmoniously emerge.

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“Compromise” is not a dirty word, though it’s often seen that way.

A stubborn refusal to budge can be disastrous to relationships and progress. On the other hand, solutions emerge when we are willing to listen to others rather than lumping them into negative categories simply because their viewpoints are different from ours.

In my efforts to do better at this, I’ve found inspiration in the Bible. Jesus’ ministry taught respect for honest hearts. Christ Jesus emphasized the inclusive nature of God’s love through a story of a lost sheep. From a large flock, one sheep had strayed. The shepherd wasn’t about to lose even one animal, so he searched until he found it and joyously returned the sheep safely to the flock (see Matthew 18:11-14).

From the shepherd’s standpoint, each sheep was of value. If we think of God as our loving Shepherd, as in Psalm 23, this means we are all embraced in the all-loving universal intelligence of the Divine. No one is unimportant, unworthy, or not good enough to be heard. God’s goodness, peace, and intelligence are expressed in His entire creation.

During my teen years, a time of great spiritual growth, a project my dad wanted to undertake clashed with a village ordinance. He was called before the village officials to discuss it.

I remember my dad as a patient, kind, and thoughtful man. He also had a fiercely independent streak. So when the day of the meeting came around, my mom, concerned about my dad’s “stubborn streak,” asked me to go to the meeting specifically to pray for harmony.

It touched me deeply that my mom felt my prayers could make a difference for good, and I went.

After the officials stated their case, my dad stated his view, and there followed a thoughtful silence. I saw by my dad’s quiet demeanor that he was praying. I had been praying too. I had learned in the Christian Science Sunday School that another name for God is Mind, and that God is infinitely good and loves all His children. I reasoned that that would include everyone present. I trusted this one divine Mind to show us all a solution.

Then, as I prayed, I thought of a compromise that could resolve the conflict. It seemed so obvious that I waited for someone else to mention it. No one did! Responding to what felt like a gentle mental nudge, I asked to speak, and then explained the idea that had come to me.

The village officials agreed that this proposal would work for them. My dad was so surprised. He agreed that it would also work for him. And everyone went home relieved and grateful that a conflict had been resolved.

“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded The Christian Science Monitor, tells us, “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; … annihilates … whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes …” (p. 340). Although today’s times may seem far from gentle and world problems considerably more serious than a small-town project, that same all-knowing, active, wise, and universal divine Mind still governs. Yielding to the oneness and unity of this Mind brings that divine government to light. Doing so is natural for the man of God’s creating – that would be all of us.

In this way, letting our wise and loving divine Shepherd lead us, each of us can step up to the opportunity to daily devote our prayers, conversations, and decisions to making a difference on the side of good for everyone – one prayer, one conversation, one decision at a time.

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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.”

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