A visitor to Boston’s dense residential and commercial district known as Back Bay might be surprised to learn they are standing right where ocean water used to be – and water still ebbs and flows beneath the filled land. The fill is unstable, so many building foundations have been anchored by piles that were driven through the sand, dirt, and water into more stable ground – in some cases, all the way down to the bedrock.
To me, this is a useful metaphor for building lasting relationships, too! I’ve found that when our values are secured on a spiritual foundation, then life-enriching relationships stand more solidly.
At one point years ago, I was living far from family and aching with loneliness. My new job was demanding, and I hadn’t yet formed meaningful friendships.
And then I met a guy. Oh gosh, he was fun and exciting, and – pinch myself – he wanted to be with me! The early days of our friendship were wonderful as we got to know each other. I was swept up in the newness and excitement, and I totally forgot about being lonely.
But as the relationship progressed, different expectations of each other emerged. It became clear that we weren’t in agreement in some key ways, including how the relationship would develop. I felt pressured to yield to his expectations. But what about mine? I was afraid to lose the relationship, but was it worth compromising what was important to me? The inner conflict became unbearable.
Whenever I am confused about direction in my life, I pray for clarity from God, the divine source of intelligence. Christian Science teaches that there is no confusion or instability in the unbreakable relation we each have to God, our heavenly Father-Mother, divine Love. Each of us stands safe and secure as God’s spiritual, loved offspring.
That’s when an image of one of the historic churches in Back Bay came to thought. Soaring beautifully in the sky, it appears to get its stability from the visible ground. But I knew it was constructed on piles that were anchored much deeper than outward appearances.
I asked myself, What was the bedrock of this relationship? And what anchors me throughout the ebbs and flows of life? Am I looking exclusively to a person for security and happiness, or am I relying on a firm foundation of divine wisdom?
In Christ Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he illustrated the effects of constructing one’s house – a metaphor for life – either on sand or on rock (see Matthew 7:24-27). Building on sand represents hearing Christ’s healing message of God’s love and goodness and immediately forgetting about it, which leaves one vulnerable to life’s storms. Building on the rock – accepting and humbly conforming to our unity with God – ensures greater stability in both storm and sunshine.
As I thought deeply about this, there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to build on the rock, harmonizing my life with God. I saw that God expresses in each of us spiritual qualities such as integrity, kindness, generosity, and unselfishness. This is our true, spiritual identity as God’s children, the bedrock of being that secures every relationship and nurtures a companionship that benefits both individuals. So, these God-given attributes could no more be compromised in me than in divinity!
Moreover, adhering to my God-derived individuality wouldn’t deprive me of good, as I’d earlier feared. It would free me to build a life of genuine happiness in healthy, harmonious concord with others.
A calm consciousness of God’s ever-presence came over me. For the first time in months, I felt safe, cared for, and deeply loved – without limits. And I knew that God always provides all that is needed, including wisdom, compassion, and confidence in navigating relationships. I was completely at peace.
Shortly after this awakening, my friend and I parted respectfully, each moving on in productive, fresh ways. In my case, this included a new and rewarding work assignment in Southeast Asia a few months later, where I developed new and lasting friendships.
Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, describes the nature of fulfilling companionship based on a solid, life-enriching, divine foundation: “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 57). When letting the wisdom of divine Truth and Love ground us, we – and those we interact with – are blessed.