Upping the love in our interactions
We’ve all had encounters that were less than friendly. But starting from the standpoint that God is Love paves the way for healing and harmony among people as well as animals, as a woman experienced firsthand last winter.
We had two chickens: Curly and Mo. They are black and white speckled with little feather tufts on their heads.
They are very sweet. But when our neighbor asked us to adopt one of his chickens, Gabby, they suddenly turned into territorial bullies, despite our efforts to introduce the new bird to them gradually.
Obviously, the situation was minor compared to the animosity we too often see around us. But it got me thinking: How can anger and hostility, of whatever type, be healed?
I’ve found it helpful to realize that such behaviors don’t represent the kind of world that God created. “Love” is used in the Bible as another name for God (see, for example, I John 4:16). This led Mary Baker Eddy to define God as Love with a capital “L,” a synonym for God, in the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.”
Just think of that – a God of love! A God that not only expresses love to and through creation, but is infinite Love itself.
The Bible also tells us in Genesis that we are created in God’s image and likeness. This means that everyone, then, is the child of Love. And that it is natural for us to express pure love toward one another. The book of First John explains, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (4:16).
What does it mean to dwell “in love” and “in God”? It requires us to become more conscious of the presence and power of divine Love. For instance, if an inharmonious situation emerges, instead of getting swept up in the drama of it all, we can consider what God knows about the situation. Can a child of God truly be unloving or exhibit vindictive or mean behavior?
The simple answer is no. Not in God’s kingdom. The “image and likeness” of something cannot be unlike its source or creator. This means that everyone is capable of expressing qualities of God, Love, rather than opposite qualities. Acknowledging this enables us to be more helpful, compassionate, and kind in difficult situations.
Around the time I was thinking about all this, I had a particularly unpleasant conversation with a friend. I respected this friend very much and was stung by her harsh words. I was so shocked that I couldn’t even respond. I went away angry, upset, and hurt.
But then I took some time to pray. I began with the simple premise that God loved this person, me, and everyone without measure – not as mortals prone to hostility but as God’s spiritual offspring, created to feel and express love.
As I prayed, I was overcome with love for this person. It wasn’t a personal sense of affection, but rather a deep, abiding conviction that we were both the children of God and were loved and appreciated for our God-given individualities. All feelings of resentment melted – they simply could not exist in this mental atmosphere. I basked in this feeling, realizing that this was a glimpse of what it means to “dwell in love.”
The morning after, I went to check on the chickens and found all three snuggled together on one roost. Somehow Gabby had gotten into their pen during the night and had been accepted without incident. All three continue to interact harmoniously and have truly become one flock.
And the situation with my friend was resolved harmoniously, too. All was well, and we have been on friendly terms since.
These are very simple examples. But they bear witness to a greater truth, to what is truly possible when we strive to see those around us as God sees them: as His loved, loving, and lovable children.