For improved interactions, be a learner

Learning to let God’s pure love, rather than willfulness, guide our efforts to care for others opens the door to inspiration that blesses all involved.

Christian Science Perspective audio edition
Loading the player...

Every human being makes mistakes now and then in the way we interact with others. The question is, How do we handle those mistakes?

I’ve found it wise to see our mistakes as learning opportunities. Then we can move forward instead of becoming mired in discouragement. The Bible counsels, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning” (Proverbs 9:9). And in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, points to the importance of learning from our experiences, writing, “Progress is born of experience” (p. 296).

The Christian Apostle Peter experienced this once when he was with others in a ship at sea, and the weather was stormy and turbulent. Christ Jesus, seeing from the shore that they were in trouble, was moved by God’s love to go to them. Jesus’ spiritual understanding enabled him to walk on the water toward the boat.

When Peter knew it was Jesus walking on the water toward them, he wanted to go to him. Peter started walking on the water as Jesus had bidden him, but he did so impetuously instead of conscientiously putting his trust in God. Consequently, the stormy conditions made him afraid, and he began to sink. “Immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (see Matthew 14:22-33).

Peter had to become humble and learn from experience to put his whole faith, his undoubting trust, in God. And his successful discipleship shows clearly that he made progress in this direction, even with a few missteps along the way.

It’s a good thing to become humble enough to learn from our experiences – to put our whole trust in God instead of resorting to human will. That’s not to say a blind trust, but a trust that comes from a growing understanding of God’s nature as good, and of everyone’s true identity as God’s loved children, spiritual and cared for at every moment.

I’ve had to learn, and am still learning, to understandingly trust God, instead of resorting to human will.

In raising my children, it wasn’t always easy to do this. As they grew up, sometimes it was tempting to judge them and to try to direct their thoughts and actions in ways that weren’t helpful or productive. But I found that taking a prayerful step back and affirming their identity as God’s pure, spiritual reflection resulted in more love and grace being expressed by us all. This approach has been helpful in other kinds of relationships, too, including in my interactions with patients in my public practice of Christian Science healing.

Our primary business, under all circumstances, is to let God – not willfulness – direct our thoughts. We can cherish the spiritual attitude captured in this verse from the Bible: “Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness” (Psalms 143:10). When we are humbly leaning on God and trusting His care for all, then we and others around us are freer to feel God’s tender, caring love.

Trying to control others is a burdensome impossibility. Instead, we can realize and love the true identity of each individual as the spiritual and perfect image of divine Love, God. A great weight is lifted off of us when we turn to God with a humble, surrendering willingness to love Him with all our heart, and to love others enough to trust that God is caring for them, too.

Then, instead of feeling judged and discouraged, those we are caring for feel supported, loved, and willing to learn. And we feel the freedom of letting our own thoughts, including how we think about others, be inspired and directed by God, divine Love.

These words in a hymn I love speak to the prayerful, healing approach we can nurture and sing within ourselves:

Come we daily then, dear Father,
Open hearts and willing hands,
Eager ears, expectant, joyful,
Ready for Thy right commands.
(Elizabeth C. Adams, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 58, © CSBD)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

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.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

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.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to For improved interactions, be a learner
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today