Working with children in a community after-school reading program was a great experience. It was full of caring interactions with a wonderful diversity of participants and staff. But there’s one relationship in particular that stands out because of how we found a warm connection after a chilly start.
There was an individual whom I so respected for her years of dedication to this program. But early on there was a disconnect between us. We came from very different backgrounds, and I tended to feel insecure around her, not sure what to say or how to relate. We were also different races, and deep down I worried that the context of past and present race relations in our country would prevent us from genuinely connecting.
My way of handling this for a while was to keep a low profile and try to avoid crossing paths with her. But this didn’t feel right at all. Thankfully it finally occurred to me that this relationship deserved the most heartfelt prayer I could give it, to gain a more God’s-eye view – the perspective that heals divisions of all kinds.
As I began praying, this came to thought: “Stop worrying about your own self-concerns and get busy loving!” This was a wake-up call. The Bible encourages us to “love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other” (Romans 12:10, New Living Translation). I’d been so caught up in my own insecurity that it was keeping me from genuinely loving this individual and freely embracing our shared connection as children of God, who is pure, infinite Love.
I’m learning from my study of Christian Science that beyond just a human definition of ourselves, our identity is more deeply rooted in the infinitely loving nature of our divine creator. So to really love one another in the highest sense is to acknowledge everyone’s identity as actually sourced in God.
Realizing, through prayer, that we are inseparable from divine Love fundamentally frees us from insecurities and fears that would hinder our freedom to reflect toward others the love that God expresses in everyone. I especially love the way this verse from the “Christian Science Hymnal” conveys it:
Though our fears may estrange and divide us,
May we seek to dissolve them through love.
We are sister and brother, each bound to the other,
One with our Father above.
(Mindy Jostyn, No. 524, alt. © CSBD)
I began to feel a divine kinship with this colleague, seeing beyond the human parameters of our identities and glimpsing the light of God’s love shining in us and our activities. For example, I was deeply grateful for the bighearted way in which she encouraged teens to stay in school and value their education.
The very next week, when I walked in the front door of the community center, there she was. Before I could say anything, she joyously welcomed me, calling from across the room, “Hi, Lisa!” This was a first. And I’m still in awe of how naturally a more heart-to-heart connection opened up between us after that.
“Love enriches the nature, enlarging, purifying, and elevating it.” This statement from the textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy (p. 57), so encapsulates what transformed my heart and this relationship.
This is a modest example. But the more we let God’s all-embracing and all-defining love govern how we interact and care for each other, the more we find it leads the way to healing and reconciliation in our wider world as well.