When I was in college, I transformed from being an unhappy, discontented person into a more joyful, loving individual. It wasn’t an easy road, but the change naturally took place through what I was learning in Christian Science. I came to understand God as Love itself, who created everyone in His image. This brought a fuller love for God, for my fellow man, and for myself.
This desire to express God’s love toward others later led me to become a special education teacher. It wasn’t always easy to maintain a happy and harmonious classroom, but I’d seen in my college experience how an understanding of the real nature of God and of man can make a meaningful difference.
So every day as I entered the classroom, I saw my students as having a deeper individuality than appeared on the surface, and I refused to accept disruptive behavior as a depiction of their true identity. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, explains: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (pp. 476-477). Because everyone, in their true identity, is made in the spiritual image and likeness of God, any aberrant, inappropriate behavior is not a part of anyone’s true, spiritual nature.
Mentally embracing God’s view of these dear students helped in tangible ways. For example, one day a student (let’s call him Andrew) stormed into my classroom and slammed his open cup of soft drink on the floor. I knew that what he needed was love, understanding, and guidance, not anger. In that moment I thought of Andrew’s true spiritual nature as not an angry teenage boy, but a calm, satisfied, loving, peaceful, and productive (not destructive) spiritual idea – God’s loved son.
This calmed my fear and shock at that startling event, enabling me to respond with patience and compassion. Andrew calmed down and was even able to complete assignments during the class session. And during Andrew’s tenure in my classroom, he expressed greater and greater joy and dominion over disruptive, angry behavior. Those who had known him before commented on the great progress they were witnessing. And later, after Andrew had transferred to another school, he came back to visit me and expressed gratitude for the loving, encouraging environment he had felt in our classroom.
Whether or not we’re teachers, each of us has a choice concerning how we respond in any encounter. We can react with anger and impulsiveness, or we can hold calmly to the truth of each individual’s spiritual nature. Time and again I’ve seen that it’s the latter that brings forth the most meaningful improvement on the human scene.
Not only is seeing others in this spiritual light beneficial, but it’s also important to view ourselves the same way. We can recognize that our capacity to help others is ours from God, whose love is expressed in all of us, bringing comfort and guidance. And we can be willing to let go of any tendency to ruminate about past conflicts; instead, we can approach each day as a new opportunity to see ourselves and others the way God sees and loves us. This lifts fear, frustration, and resentment – and opens the way for healing.
We can trust God to lead us forward in harmony every new day. As the Bible says, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22, 23).