As people hunker down to heed stay-at-home orders that have been issued in so many countries around the world, new living arrangements have created both joy and stress. College-aged children, used to living on their own, are once again living under their parents’ roof; some folks are caring for ill ones in their household; others live alone. There’s too much togetherness for some and not enough for others!
Years ago, when I had two kids under the age of 2, my husband needed to travel for business for nearly a month in the middle of winter. Shut in for days at a time with two babies, I could not get a minute to myself. My patience and my temper were wearing out.
Then I came across a passage Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this news organization, wrote in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures”: “What we most need is the prayer of fervent desire for growth in grace, expressed in patience, meekness, love, and good deeds” (p. 4).
I realized that fundamentally, my need wasn’t for more time to myself or help with the kids. What I truly desired was grace – a quality I really didn’t feel I possessed.
The idea behind grace, as I’ve learned in my study of Christian Science, is that God so loves each of His children that He always cares for us and blesses us. God’s grace is universal, not dependent on circumstance or what we’ve done or haven’t done. That’s because God knows us not as flawed mortals, but as the spiritual likeness of the Divine, good and pure.
This is a very freeing way to think of ourselves and others. We are all capable of extending grace to each other, expressed in acts of kindness and forgiveness. Expressing God’s love toward one another helps each of us feel that love of God tangibly. In the Bible, John, a follower of Jesus, reminds us: “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (I John 4:11, 12, New International Version).
When times are trying and life’s burdens seem more than we can bear, we can turn to God for the spiritual supplies, or qualities, we need. The prayer that Jesus gave to the world, called the Lord’s Prayer, is a call to God to help us meet the demands of our day.
One line of this prayer is “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). Mrs. Eddy, sharing what this passage meant to her, wrote, “Give us grace for to-day; feed the famished affections” (Science and Health, p. 17). God readily provides the patience, kindness, and poise we need to meet any situation.
This divine grace is beyond willpower or stoicism. Grace impels us not to overlook wrongdoing but to forgive easily, to see another’s need and silently meet it. Grace benefits the recipient and the one expressing it alike.
That’s what I found during those challenging times as a young parent. I prayed and yearned to feel more of that pure and unwavering love with which God, the divine Father-Mother of everyone, loves each of us. And during that month and beyond, God’s grace was my rock. I found I was able to demonstrate grace in new ways, such as through greater patience, calm in stressful times, and just being more loving and present with my adorable kids. And looking back years later, I realize that the quick temper I once had has been replaced by a more gracious, calm demeanor born of that experience.
During this present day, with all three of my now-adult children back in my house and my husband and I “shut in” with them, there is such a great need to be gracious and patient with one another as we each face new challenges daily. I’ve found solace in my favorite gift from God: grace.
Each of us can turn to God in prayer and know that the grace we yearn for is there for us today and every day!