Thought makes a difference
When our thoughts and actions stem from a desire to see and love others as fellow children of God, the impact can be significant. One outdoor educator witnessed this firsthand.
I love to support my community and world through prayer! Sometimes, though, I’ve felt hindered by uncertainty about what impact I can actually have. But I’ve found that when my motive is genuinely to be helpful, those concerns fall away and I am more freely able to be of value to others.
I used to work for an outdoor education center that conducted various activities, many of which were quite active in nature, with students. One weekend our staff was notified that among the group attending would be a student with a significant physical disability. Upon hearing this, I knew I wanted to pray to feel a deeper sense of truly being of service – not just to help this child get through the activities, but to help her have a truly joyful experience.
I thought of how Christ Jesus opened his timeless prayer, the Lord’s Prayer, with these simple words: “Our Father.” I love this acknowledgment of the brother- and sisterhood of all. Our Father – it leaves no one out. And Christian Science explains that as our divine Parent, God is our Father and our Mother.
This also implies that God’s children share in the divine nature. This is the primal fact of our place in creation: We are created in the image of God. We are not, therefore, merely mortals; we are spiritual, as God is Spirit. We are not a mix of matter-child and God’s child, but fully spiritual, reflective of God’s nature.
When Jesus introduced this prayer, he stated, “After this manner therefore pray ye ...” (Matthew 6:9). Yes, the specific words he gave are beautifully important, but it’s also helpful to consider the attitude they are prompting in us as well. What does it mean to really conduct myself in a way consistent with the idea that we all have one heavenly Father?
My prayers – my listening for God’s guidance – assured me that the best thing to do was to spend this time honoring God and honoring this dear “sister.” To me this meant helping her in appropriate ways, but above all, seeing her as more than a mortal with particular limitations.
So I engaged with this student from the standpoint of what God, Spirit, our heavenly Parent, knows about all of us, including her. No, we never discussed anything to do with God, or any aspects of faith at all. But God doesn’t need to be talked about to be God, the Father and Mother of us all, who created us as spiritual, whole, and free. Everyone is capable of experiencing something of that in our day-to-day lives.
I mentally held to these ideas, which inspired the way I interacted with the group and particularly with this student. And she and I both had a great weekend! Trusting that God’s will for us all is good at every moment, I felt so free to just treat this sweet student with complete grace and normalcy, and she responded in kind. We were teammates in a wild capture-the-flag game and had a wonderful time with the horses. Mealtime conversations were pleasant and funny.
As the group was leaving at the end of the weekend, one of the adult chaperones came over to thank the staff. She was clearly very moved and eventually managed to tell me that this particular student rarely spoke to strangers and often ended up being left out in athletic contexts. But that weekend, she had blossomed and shone.
We were all deeply touched, and I have never forgotten the joy on that girl’s face as she participated in every activity we offered. We didn’t stay in touch after that weekend, but when that same school visited again (with different students) the next year, I did hear that she was doing very well.
That’s just one example, but to me it shows the radiating power of God’s love. Since God is Spirit, the spiritual and whole nature of His children is already established; it’s simply our pleasure and privilege (even when it’s not easy) to honor God by treating each other from that standpoint. When our thoughts and actions stem from the premise of the divine Fatherhood and Motherhood of God, and the spiritual family of all Deity’s children, we and others are benefited.