Strengthening family ties

Sometimes the responsibility of helping a loved one with a problem can feel oppressive. But a spiritual view of everyone’s roots as children of God brings inspiration that rejuvenates, strengthens our connections with others, and opens the door to solutions.

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When we moved to a house with an overgrown garden, I started randomly tearing at some tree ivy. My husband called over, “Just go straight to the base of the roots and cut it there.”

His useful gardening advice spoke to me in another way later that afternoon when I was overcome by fatigue. For weeks I’d listened to a family member pouring out personal problems. Each conversation ended, “What do you think I should do?” While I was happy to support this loved one, it also felt mentally exhausting.

I thought back to that idea of roots. One definition of “roots” is an emotional attachment, or family ties. The concept of family ties is deeply embedded in human thought, and as wonderful as such ties often are, sometimes we can feel a little strangled by their hold. That’s how I’d been feeling lately.

A human sense of ourselves piles up evidence that we’re material creatures, playing our various parts as son, daughter, mother, father, grandparent, friend. But there’s another view of family ties I’ve found most helpful. It’s a spiritual view.

In the record of creation found in the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, God made man – a term that refers to everyone, male and female – in His own image and likeness. God is our divine Parent. The fatherhood and motherhood of God is indicated in the spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer found in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. It begins:

“Our Father which art in heaven,
“Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (p. 16).

In a garden, ivy climbs by clinging. It weaves its way through a tree’s branches, stifling natural growth. Similarly, if we take another’s problems as our personal burden, we may find we aren’t able to help the very one we would bless. But when we take a mental step back to see others as God’s spiritual offspring, always cared for by God, divine Love, we’re more receptive to the inspiration that rejuvenates and brings solutions.

As efficiently as the ivy came off that tree once I refocused my efforts, this realization brought freedom from suffering. My relative found the support needed, and our heavenly Parent, God, united us in mutual love and respect. Our family was strengthened, not weakened, and so was I.

With divine Love as our guide, productive new growth always takes place.

Adapted from the June 2, 2021, Christian Science Daily Lift podcast.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

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The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

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