Hugs are great, but we can do more to help

Beginning to realize the nature of God as divine Love opens a whole new and infinite context for loving others thoughtfully, and for trust in God’s power to heal.

Some years ago, my adult daughter sent me flowers; it felt like a great big hug. Her caring buoyed me at a time when I really needed some extra love. It got me thinking about how a compassionate heart intuits just what’s needed: a hug, a helpful word, an encouraging message sent at the right time, or simply the willingness to be present for another person. Who hasn’t felt a lift from doubt or discouragement when someone has expressed practical caring?

So, why does that caring stir the heart? The flowers felt like a hug because they were reflective of more—they were evidence of the source of good, which is intelligent, divine Love, a name for God from the Bible (see I John 4:8). This Love is universal, reigning over all creation. Love operates as law to bless all humanity. 

As I thought about the relationship between the affection that knew just when to send the flowers and the divine Love that causes its own children to naturally love each other, I remembered another time when someone I was with intuitively sensed my need. I was grappling with severe pain when my friend gently wrapped me up in a hug with a soft “No.” I knew instinctively that my friend’s “No” was rebuking the pain as causeless and illegitimate, since it didn’t come from God. The pain immediately disappeared. The hug wasn’t the power that healed it. But that embrace provided tangible reassurance of the presence of God’s unwavering love and the spiritual perfection of my being. Right then, it buoyed my trust that the law of divine Love was operating, supreme over any apparent cause for or sense of pain.

How do we express more of the divine Love that goes beyond helping people feel a little bit better and actually heals? I have found that it comes down to turning our heart and thoughts to God, and not accepting as inevitable certain physical or emotional outcomes. 

Ever since the first time I encountered the healing power of Christian Science, I’ve cherished the Lord’s Prayer that Jesus gave to his followers two thousand years ago. This prayer establishes for me the healing efficacy of loving God and loving humanity. Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, interprets one line in the Lord’s Prayer as “And Love is reflected in love” (p. 17). Divine Love with a capital L is God, the fundamental, forever-operating source of selfless love in each of us. Beginning to realize the nature of God as divine Love opens a whole new and infinite context for loving others thoughtfully, and for trust in God’s power to heal. We find fresh assurance that Love truly does reach each heart to bless. 

The more human affection is motivated by selflessness, the more it is a window through which God shines. We are reflecting Love more expansively. Pure motives are evidence of the Divine in all of us, the proof that goodness and love characterize the essence of true being. Unselfed love courageously challenges fear, willingly breaks through resentment, and consciously strives to negate any chronic lethargy or moral laxness. Seeing the man and woman that God created as inherently whole, loved, innocent, and free is the most practical, healing answer to human suffering.

To give an illustration, some time ago I experienced increasingly severe chest pains. At the time, I was upset, and even frightened, by someone’s persistent antagonistic and aggressive behavior toward me, behavior for which they didn’t seem to have clear reasons. When I tried to be kind to this individual, it didn’t help. I realized that improving this negative situation was going to require something deeper than just being intentionally nice. I needed to acknowledge the real, God-created nature inherent in each of us as divine Love’s expression, regardless of how threatening and unreasonable the individual seemed to be. 

As I prayed in this way, I realized a clearer sense of God’s all-embracing fatherhood and motherhood, and recalled this biblical passage from Ezekiel: “Behold, all souls are mine” (18:4). This statement included the other person as well as me. I felt the calm parenting of God’s always-present love. Fear left, and so did the chest pains. A few months later, I saw this person, and
all the aggression was entirely gone.

Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this magazine, wrote in a 1905 newspaper article, “Look high enough, and you see the heart of humanity warming and winning” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 268).

Seeking and acknowledging a higher perception of humanity affirms our spirituality, our true nature as God’s, Spirit’s, direct expression. Receiving hugs and flowers certainly supports each of us, but the value of these gestures may be difficult to quantify. Making it our purpose to better understand the Love that owns creation, however, does have measurable results. When we love others with spiritual understanding, this heals, one heart at a time, until the whole world comes to know divine Love as the most effective healing answer.

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