Loving in the face of verbal violence

When a colleague’s recurring verbal attacks soured the work environment for himself and others, a stage manager turned to the Bible for help. As he learned more about what it means that God is Love, the situation turned around dramatically.

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Years ago, I was assigned to serve as stage manager for a major theatrical event. It was an extremely demanding assignment but a tremendous professional opportunity.

As the event dates quickly approached, the director began to increasingly yell and curse at the other staff and performers, including me. Now, having been raised in the Bible-based religion of Christian Science, I had to ask myself: Taking Christ Jesus’ example as a model for thought and action, how did this kind of behavior fit in? I realized that it did not, and so I searched the Scriptures for answers.

In First Corinthians, the Apostle Paul states: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (13:1). Many Bible scholars equate this use of the word “charity” with “love.”

Paul also speaks of the quality of love as including not behaving in an unseemly manner, not being focused on self, not allowing yourself to be provoked. And thinking no evil. Here he is giving us a road map for right reasoning and acting.

Was I willing to put this into practice myself, even in the face of this undeserved hostility?

Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, drew inspiration from the Bible. In her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” she speaks of how we are protected from evil of every sort by learning to love: “Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. ...

“Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously” (p. 392).

I realized that I was not “standing porter” over my thinking, but just going along and hoping that I wouldn’t be the object of verbal violence. So I asked myself: Am I really seeking to love loving? Do I honestly love my friends and my so-called enemies? Am I satisfied with expressing anything less than a Christly, loving spirit?

God, alone, is Love. And divine Love is the only legitimate power governing all His children. We don’t need to search about for God’s love. God is All, and God is Love, so all must be Love, and there can be nothing unlike this ever-present Love.

Needless to say, this doesn’t always seem to be the case. But it is our job to identify this as the spiritual reality, to accept divine Love as our sole source of inspiration – and then we’re equipped to demonstrate the largess of that Love in our daily thoughts and deeds.

I resolved to seek an uplifted sense of affection for my co-workers – including the director – as fellow children of God, not stressed or angry mortals. Instead of trying to avoid the director, I welcomed his presence, respected his position, and strove not to personalize any unwarranted criticism, affirming that both he and I were surrounded, supported, and supervised by Love alone.

Soon, I felt a great release from stress, and my many tasks became less labored. I found that I truly wanted to be there and discovered a newfound sense of excitement for the creative challenges. The director’s demeanor dramatically changed, too. He became supportive, complimentary, and encouraging, a change noted by many.

Mrs. Eddy shares in her “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896”: “In Christian Science, the law of Love rejoices the heart; and Love is Life and Truth” (p. 12). What a great guide divine Love provides in confidently and joyfully meeting the needs of every moment!

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