One winter, I had a part-time position in a chocolate and ice cream shop. During my first day on the job, a coworker approached me and asked me, quite pointedly and aggressively, about my political affiliation.
I was stunned into speechlessness. We hadn’t even introduced ourselves yet, and my first thought was to respond with something like, “Hi, I’m Cher. I’m new here.” But as I collected my thoughts, I recalled something Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, wrote in response to the question, “What are your politics?” She said, “I have none, in reality, other than to help support a righteous government; to love God supremely, and my neighbor as myself” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 276).
I’ve always appreciated those ideas, and that inspired my response. I shared that what seemed most important to me was to follow the golden rule, treating people the way I’d like to be treated. But the tone of the conversation felt fearful and hostile. I felt like I was under attack.
I realized I had to approach this situation from a different standpoint if I was going to find peace or joy in this workplace. I decided to pray, something I’ve found helpful on many occasions.
My prayers started with the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible – the beginning. There we read of God being All and creating all, and of man made in God’s image and likeness. It follows that God’s nature is expressed in all of creation, that God’s children reflect all that He is. The Bible describes God as Spirit and Love, and so each of us, in our true nature as His spiritual offspring, includes only good, loving qualities.
I wanted to see my new coworkers – including the one who had confronted me – as the loved of God, Love. I mentally affirmed that hostility and anger aren’t included in the qualities that make up God’s man. Everyone shares in this reality, including lawmakers, coworkers, customers, neighbors, and friends.
I got through the day without further incident. And I continued to pray about the issue over the next few weeks. Quite honestly, I was still shaken every time I thought about the too-often heated nature of politics – and not just in my workplace. We all want to feel protected and safe and cared for, and I prayed to know that I and my fellow men and women are all capable of feeling God’s love and doing good. This includes during conversations about controversial topics – we don’t have to fight it out in the workplace or on the campaign trail.
The Apostle Paul talks about the “weapons of our warfare” as “not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds” (II Corinthians 10:4). Qualities such as honesty, integrity, purity, respectfulness, compassion, inclusivity, holiness, wisdom, and love flooded my thoughts. Such qualities have the power of God behind them, and belong to everyone in my workplace and everywhere. Praying to see and hear what God knows about man’s true nature brings harmony, joy, peace.
That’s what I experienced at the shop. The uncomfortable, hostile conversations completely ceased. For the rest of the time I worked there, I felt safe and cared for. And I know my coworkers felt this harmony, too. I made fabulous new friends, and I felt surrounded by divine Love every day.
In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy states: “Human hate has no legitimate mandate and no kingdom. Love is enthroned” (p. 454). To bear correct witness to this spiritual reality, we must be conscious of God’s government of His creation, which is “very good” (Genesis 1:31). This empowers us to not be swayed by animosity, but overcome it.