Finding love in miniature
Is it truly possible to love others as purely and universally as God does? Step by step, we can let God inspire in us more grace, tenderness, and compassion when we interact with others.
One day I came to the realization that my great need in life was to love humanity more deeply. To me this meant going beyond human affection and reflecting the love that emanates from God, whom the Bible describes as divine Love itself. Just as the sun shines on everything and everyone by its very nature, so God loves each one of us. Further, God created us to love others in the same way – and not just those we live closest to or know best, but everyone.
Striving to love everyone I thought of or came into contact with became my goal. I prayed to know how to begin.
Right away God gave me an answer in the form of inspiration to read from “Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896” by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science. There, I read this counsel: “A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated, would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God” (p. 354).
This really spoke to me. It was love in miniatures! How happy I was to see that my desire to love in a more heartfelt and genuine way didn’t require overwhelming steps. I could start with little adjustments in how I treated others – being more gracious, pure, tender, soft, thoughtful, and sincere.
I began to actively look for ways to put each of these qualities into action in my daily life. And there were plenty of opportunities! For instance, instead of reacting angrily to the driver who cut me off, the contractor who wasn’t returning my phone call, or the neighbor who made a curt remark, I prayed for grace, love, and the ability to forgive and respond in a way that would bless.
This took vigilance. The tendency of the mortal, carnal mind to voice its grievances, ruminate about wrongs, and magnify others’ failings and shortcomings didn’t always yield easily. But when we honestly open our hearts to Love, God, these attitudes dissolve and “the right action of the mental mechanism” is restored. In other words, we are improved mentally and morally – and, as I came to experience, even physically.
One day my husband suggested that we purchase a farm tractor, and instead of graciously considering the idea, I figuratively slammed the door in his face and said no to any more discussion. It wasn’t until a week later – when I was praying about my back, which had suddenly seized up and was painful – that I realized that “inflexible” and “unbending” didn’t only describe the problem with my back. It described my mental state when my husband had come to me with the idea.
Right away I felt a desire to correct this ungracious and belligerent attitude. I went to my husband and brought up the topic, this time letting divine Love rather than willfulness guide me. Within an hour, my back was pain-free and I was mobile again. And we ended up purchasing a tractor – which proved to be a valuable acquisition!
Loving more also means being more patient with oneself as well. If failing to be tender and gracious in some way, we can pray to be forgiven. We can pray for God to help us be less harsh in our assessment of others and forgive their seeming failings as well. Loving as God loves means striving to purify our motives and not express love in an attempt to manipulate or appease others. It means loving in a tender way, in which honesty doesn’t require accusing or alienating another.
I’m still a work in progress, but gentleness, kindness, and consideration are all aspects of love that can be put into practice in daily life. Prayer that softens the heart blesses all those around us – this includes ourselves and can even extend to other parts of the world and to people we may never meet face to face. Each step we take – even the miniature ones – to love more purely and expansively is a way of serving not only God, but our fellow men and women as well.
What better way is there to magnify God’s love than to be a witness to the Christ-love within each of us that leaves no one out?