Several years ago, in the space of two years my mother and a beloved aunt passed away, and a close family member left us after a divorce. Everyone felt a little adrift, and it was difficult to see how we would all regain loving and happy family time. As I took this all onto my shoulders, I felt like the new “worrier-in-chief” for the whole group.
And yet, I’d learned this much: When worries and sorrows get too big for us to bear, God is there to comfort and guide us. Prayer is the always-available avenue through which we find God’s light.
Yearning for each family member to feel the peace and presence of God’s love, I turned wholeheartedly to God. Jesus taught us to pray without an agenda, humbly turning to our Father-Mother God, who has infinite resources to meet our needs. Jesus instructed: “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:6, New International Version).
In that place of quiet listening, as we turn away from fear, anger, frustration, sorrow, or pain, we find we are not alone because we are governed by infinite Love, God, and we begin to feel at peace.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, spoke about the nature of this communion with God, and what it does for us, in her book “No and Yes”: “True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection. Prayer is the utilization of the love wherewith He loves us. ... It makes new and scientific discoveries of God, of His goodness and power. It shows us more clearly than we saw before, what we already have and are; and most of all, it shows us what God is” (p. 39).
My prayer about our family brought a larger sense of God’s all-encompassing love. God’s love is constant, without pause. And we can especially feel this love when times are tough and loved ones aren’t present.
Over the next several months, when I wasn’t sure how to best support my family or work out logistical details, I often turned back to that quiet prayer acknowledging God’s constant love of each family member. As the months passed, it felt as if we were all truly being enveloped in this higher, purer love of God as we negotiated family gatherings, difficult moves, and new beginnings.
A perfect example of this was when it came time for the annual family Christmas Eve party at our house. It is always a very joyful occasion. But I was worried that this year it would feel empty without my mom and aunt, and I also wondered how to gracefully include family members who might not be so keen to see each other.
As my husband and I talked about it one night, we thought about the joy that would fill this celebration because it was commemorating the birth of Christ Jesus, the Son of God, the most selfless and loving individual who ever walked the earth. It came to us to include some neighbors who had suffered a difficult year, as well as everyone involved in the divorce I mentioned earlier.
When the holiday gathering began, at first we felt sad and a little out of sync. But as the evening progressed, you could feel everyone making a special effort, and soon some unexpected twists to old traditions lifted any remaining cloud of grief from the gathering. When it was time to say goodnight, my mother-in-law remarked quietly how special the night had been.
As the years have moved on, new significant others have joined our family, and I have begun to feel the truth of a favorite quote from “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” also by Mrs. Eddy: “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love” (p. 66).
Each of us can learn to release our daily cares and worries to God in prayer – to give up being a worrier-in-chief. When we let prayer inspired by divine Love lead the way, wonderful outcomes no one could’ve imagined are brought about.
Adapted from an article published in the Nov. 11, 2019, issue of the Christian Science Sentinel.