Keeping God as the head of the household
There was an old woman
who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children,
she knew just what to do.
She fed them and bathed
them and kissed their sweet heads.
They all said their prayers
and crawled into their beds.
I remember hearing this from my mom and grandmother when I was growing up. Their modified version of the traditional Mother Goose nursery rhyme spoke of the family being full of love and blessings instead of being a burden and a struggle. I liked it because it made me smile, knowing that divine Love, God, was the head of the household—or shoe, as it were!
The simple sweetness of this children’s poem sent a comforting message to me throughout the years as I became a mom of seven children, who are now young adults. It reminds me that God’s children (all of us) are the expression of Mind, Principle, Spirit, Life, Truth, Soul, and Love, which are synonyms for God, as taught in Christian Science. Going to God in active prayer with the expectation of receiving good answers was a part of my spiritual education growing up, but I had to learn to implement such prayer consistently in my life as a parent.
I have been given many opportunities to learn new ways to open up my thought to God’s guidance, let go of limited expectations, and grow in my spiritual understanding as I have prayed for a deeper knowledge of man’s relation to God.
On a consistent basis, as my husband and I were raising our children, we would get a lot of questions from people about having a big family. Understandably, some people would immediately start thinking about the logistics of running a household for nine people. And then they would say, “Oh my, the laundry! I can’t even imagine!” And I would reply, “Don’t be overwhelmed for me.” This was a fun quip, but it has a deeper, spiritual meaning. It meant that they didn’t need to take on a sense of burden or struggle for me. I was working with God—listening to divine Love and proving step by step that God is my Parent, too, and was caring for me.
I would reply, “Don’t be overwhelmed for me.” This was a fun quip, but it has a deeper, spiritual meaning.
When the kids were growing up, we had a very full calendar, but we declared that right activity is governed by God, good. With this as our starting point, time and place, supply and demand, could be seen not as limitations but as opportunities to see good revealed. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the reader finds this as part of the spiritual definition of day: “The objects of time and sense disappear in the illumination of spiritual understanding, and Mind measures time according to the good that is unfolded. This unfolding is God’s day, and ‘there shall be no night there’ ” (p. 584).
Our goal each day was to do good— to be obedient to what God was asking us to do and to bless and be blessed as a result. So I affirmed that fear, lack, frustration, exhaustion, conflicting human opinions, etc., couldn’t throw us off of the rock of Truth. We lived each day in “God’s day,” and we could not suffer as a result of doing good.
I’m so grateful for the strong metaphysical support my husband has always brought to the family and that we work together as students of Christian Science. And yet, it’s important to mention that each person, as an individual, demonstrates his or her own relation to Father-Mother God. This means I can go to God right away when I need answers. It’s a trusted friendship that is right where I am, day and night. I have to listen with humility, get myself out of the way, … and then be obedient to God’s guidance.
Going to God as our Father-Mother God and friend—letting Love guide us and starting with an expectation that we have everything we need right here, right now—has been a foundation stone for our family. Science and Health explains, “Metaphysics resolves things into thoughts, and exchanges the objects of sense for the ideas of Soul” (p. 269). We have built on a spiritual foundation that is wide and deep. We have had challenges through the years and, knowing that divine Love was at the helm, have seen many healings.
One such challenge was on a weekend when our family was driving to a location about five hours from our hometown for a large family gathering. One of our toddlers started feeling ill on the way and needed constant care during the road trip. We had left in the evening and arrived at a family member’s home around midnight. After my husband and I got the children and their traveling items and luggage unloaded and everyone settled in their beds, I snuggled up with our little one. He rested peacefully, waking from time to time for just a few moments and then resting quietly again.
I stayed up most of the night, softly singing hymns from the Christian Science Hymnal and reading the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly. When our toddler woke up around 7 a.m., he was completely free from every symptom that he had experienced in the car and during the evening. With a big grin on his face, he hopped up and went to play.
As I got up to get ready for the day, I realized I was feeling overwhelmed by the same symptoms of illness he had been experiencing. I thought, Really?! Our trip was for the purpose of a fun family visit, and there just wasn’t any room for sickness or strife. This was a weekend to express love, joy, harmony, and gratitude. So I paused and thought to myself, What have you been doing all night? You have been comforting. You have been expressing love and joyfully caring for your child—God’s child. And where does that comfort come from? It comes from my Father-Mother God. My divine Parent.
As a reflection of divine Love, I expressed comfort from the divine source and could not be adversely affected in any way. I stood my ground and mentally planted my flag of freedom. What was true for my little boy was true for me! And right then, all symptoms of illness were gone. I was free—completely free. That mental acknowledgment of my innate freedom as God’s child took just a few moments. I knew that God cares for all of His children equally, and I affirmed that Truth embraces all of us. I was healthy the entire weekend and grateful for this immediate healing.
I have learned to go to God with deep humility.
Something that was important to my husband and me was teaching the children to know that their relation to their Father-Mother God was tangible and always available. Their comfort was in God, and God was right where they were all the time; they were strengthened by that concept. Simple ways of teaching this came from the Bible Lessons, the Christian Science periodicals, and the Christian Science Hymnal.
The Bible was a source of strength. In Second Corinthians we read: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (9:6, 7). Sometimes it took reminders that Love was guiding our day and that the things we didn’t want to do were really expressions of something bigger. Activities such as cleaning bathrooms, making beds, straightening up rooms, doing laundry, and feeding pets were expressions of love, thoughtfulness, order, cleanliness, and all seven of those synonyms for God I mentioned earlier. Being obedient to good, God, sets us on the right path for the next thing in our day, so choosing good is important.
When there was arguing, unkindness, unwillingness, or ingratitude, our family talked together about how to handle it. The children learned that self-government is God-directed government; that it was important to recognize that selfishness, willfulness, ingratitude, and dishonesty are not included in their spiritual nature as God’s children; that there is joy in choosing unselfishness, compassion, gratitude, and honesty; and that freedom comes from recognizing that we reflect God, Spirit. Parenting challenges were moments my husband and I took to realign our thought to the obedience of Christ.
I love this quote from the Bible: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (II Corinthians 10:3–5).
Through the years, I have learned to go to God with deep humility. I continue to be grateful for being able to meet challenges with spiritual understanding and reliance on Father-Mother God. Breaking free from the temptation to be overwhelmed—for yourself and for others—comes with knowing that divine Love leads the way. I encourage you to take inspiration from the Lord’s Prayer and the spiritual sense of this prayer given on pages 16 and 17 of Science and Health. Know God as the divine Parent, that “Love is reflected in love,” and that you and your household are in the kingdom of heaven, where harmony reigns.