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Frenemies? Or God’s children?
I didn’t want to go back. I’d taken a semester away during college—living in another city and working two jobs in publishing. It had been one of the best experiences of my life, and even though I loved my school, I was not looking forward to returning.
Mainly it was a friend thing. My friends at school were sometimes unpredictable—unexpectedly excluding me or making me feel bad about myself. It had happened a lot the year before, and it was even harder to think of returning to those dynamics now that I had a group of friends in my new city who didn’t act that way.
One day, the week before I had to leave, I was lamenting my departure yet again when a line from a hymn stopped me in my mental tracks: “Father, where Thine own children are, / I love to be” (Mary Baker Eddy, Poems, p. 13).
To be honest, I hadn’t really been thinking of my college friends as God’s own children. I’d been focused on their personalities and their occasionally unpleasant behavior.
But here was an entirely different perspective on the situation. God was telling me that He had created them—that He created all of us. It wasn’t that the friends I’d made during my semester away were God’s children and my friends back at school weren’t. We were all,
every one of us, designed by Love, made in His image.
We were all, every one of us, designed by Love, made in His image.
This can be tough to remember when someone isn’t being much of a friend. But I’d seen from past experiences that holding to the true view—of each of us as God’s own child—makes a difference. It allows us to be a witness to the spiritual and good nature of every one of God’s children. And when we do that, whatever isn’t Godlike—like personality, cattiness, or meanness—loses its so-called reality and disappears. The new view we get as a result of praying like this is always beautiful because we’ve caught a glimpse of the individual as God made him or her.
I realized that I didn’t have to dread going back to school or feel afraid about what might await me there. What awaited me was good—God and His expression. I could feel secure in that understanding even before I returned.
My change of thought about my friends was so complete that not only did the dread and worry leave me, but when I went back to school, I also had a dramatically different experience. The dynamics with my old friends improved, and I also made several new friends who became a really special part of my college experience.
I’ve loved reflecting on this healing at the start of each school year as I’ve prayed to support all the students who are going back for a new year. What is it you’re returning to? Not cliques and personalities—the bandies, geeks, popular kids and jocks—but God’s own children. Understanding this removes those divisions. It also opens our eyes to all the potential new friends who are just waiting to be discovered.