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Bring down the walls of division—everywhere

When we resolve our personal battles, the world feels the blessing.

From the November 26, 2001 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

Sometimes While Reading headlines in the newspaper, I come across an event or circumstance that demands immediate attention. The urgency of the account requires that I stop and pray about the situation. In those moments of reaching out to help another in distress, I've found it's me who is helped the most. These days many people are turning to God, the infinite Mind of the universe, for answers, assurance, and peace. As I sat down recently to pray about the present state of events, I thought of another time when an area of the world was in turmoil. It was when Cambodia was at war with Vietnam.

One day during that time, I was at a prayer meeting at work. The organization I worked for had invited everyone to attend this meeting to pray for peace in Cambodia. We spent ten minutes in silent prayer, and the room was very quiet. In that quietness, listening for God's ideas, I abruptly realized that I was engaged in a warfare of my own—with my boss. Forget Cambodia. I realized that at that moment I had a much greater personal need, that of bringing peace to a situation right in my own backyard. Before I could address the needs of Cambodia—which I sincerely wanted to do—I needed to heal the ongoing battle I'd been having with my boss. How could I promote and support peace somewhere else when I was fighting my own war?

Those ten minutes of prayer turned on the light in my darkened consciousness and made me realize my real need. So what did I do? I mentally held up my white flag and surrendered, right on the spot. I laid down my weapons of self-love, self-will, self-righteousness, and self-justification. In those few minutes, I gave up the mental battle I had been waging against my boss. My war was over. As the meeting ended, I became hopeful and determined that the tense situation between my boss and me could be worked out.

When I returned to the office, I apologized to my boss for my contribution to the friction and stress. I asked if we could start over. She accepted my apology, saying that everything was all right between us and that nothing in our situation needed changing.

But everything still wasn't all right—she just didn't want to deal with the problems we were having, such as my frustration because she wouldn't use my skills. She was completely closed to listening to my new ideas regarding the office, so I felt mentally stifled. I discovered at that moment that this was going to be a solo journey instead of a joint activity. This peacemaking was going to be my work, not hers. A passage in Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy helped me with my resolve to heal the problems: "Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds" (p. 1). I saw that before I took steps to bring peace to my environment, my way of thinking about everything needed to move In short, I had to become more spiritually minded.

The situation was healed, but it didn't happen overnight. There were days when friction and irritation tried to take over the relationship, making us react adversely to each other. During those times my spirits would sink. However, when I took time to pray, I would become strengthened mentally. This strength sometimes lasted for just a day. Finally the time came when I could maintain a spiritual view of each of us and of our work environment. At that point, I found I was able to consistently view both of us as being motivated solely by the one infinite Mind. And then—wow!—I felt as if I were walking right through the disagreements. The barriers that existed between my boss and me collapsed. The indifference I felt from her just vanished. The walls of our "battle" came tumbling down.

The result of this newfound freedom brought fresh and meaningful communication and mutual respect to our relationship. Now, truly, the war was over. And we both had won.

During this time of mental struggles, along with my many one-day victories, I had begun to glimpse how powerful my prayers for Cambodia could be. Through my mental and spiritual journey, I was winning my own battle right here in the States. I saw that my new spiritual insights and conviction that peace is a spiritual fact of God's infinite universal creation had to be helping the Cambodians. The previously tentative approach to my prayers now took on the roar of a mighty lion that permeated my consciousness. It was a roar that could help move mountains of fear and hatred.

How could I promote and support peace somewhere else when I was fighting my own war with my boss?

The meaning I found in that prayer meeting so many years ago is still vivid to me now. That same might and presence are especially needed in these times of doubt and alarm regarding terrorism and the anthrax scare. The spiritual conviction and understanding that the infinite Mind of the universe is here with us, individually and as nations, will allow each of us to win the battles that we fight within. And the outcome has to felt by the whole world.

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