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Does love come and go?

From the July 8, 2019 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

I always expected to marry the right person. Reared with a traditional but illusive “Prince Charming” narrative, I imagined my own “prince” would appear, and each of us would find the solid and lasting love that would make us feel whole.

I did meet someone when I was in my twenties. I felt without any doubt that he was the right one. Then I found out about an unresolved relationship from his past. But since I trusted that our relationship was meant to be, I felt that it would work out. 

So when he announced his decision to continue instead with his other relationship, I was shocked and brokenhearted. A period of solitude followed, filled with deeper study of the books I’d come to rely on as a new student of Christian Science—the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s writings—and an earnest desire to understand how to create a lasting relationship. 

I avidly studied the chapter titled “Marriage” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mrs. Eddy. In it, she wrote that partners need “kindred tastes, motives, and aspirations” (p. 60) in order to create a successful marriage. Eventually, someone new came into my life, and as we got to know each other, these “kindred” qualities were abundantly evident. We moved forward joyfully with our wedding plans, until one day he admitted that he felt overwhelmed by a fear of commitment and didn’t want to follow through with our marriage after all. This time, the shock hit even harder, and I felt I’d lost everything that mattered.

When I was able to pray again, I asked for a complete willingness not to have a relationship. I began to see that I could have a fulfilling life with my work and friendships. And based on these two experiences, it seemed clear that God had something other than marriage in store for me. Or so I thought.

God’s love can be counted on, trusted, leaned on as a constant.

So, during the following years I wasn’t just sitting somewhere praying about marriage. I was working on developing a career and deepening my spiritual understanding. My spiritual studies led me to examine my own behaviors, expectations, and fears to see if they lined up with what I was discovering about my God-created identity. But gaining self-knowledge didn’t come from using a filter of harsh judgment. 

I found a more compassionate view by starting from an understanding of my real, spiritual nature as God’s image and likeness, and I actually came to enjoy the process of letting go of thought patterns and behaviors that didn’t coincide with this nature. Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Be of good cheer; the warfare with one’s self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you …” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 118). Progress was reflected in enduring friendships, extraordinary professional opportunities, and ever-increasing gratitude for Christian Science and all that it was teaching me. But because I still didn’t feel peaceful about marriage, I called a Christian Science practitioner for help.

She asked me a question: “Do you think love comes and goes?” 

I immediately answered no. From my study of the Bible and Science and Health, I had come to know God as Love—so much so that I didn’t believe this particular topic needed much study. But I paused, and considered her question again: Did I think love comes and goes? The revelation hit me like bright sun breaking over the horizon: This was exactly what I believed! And this was what had, for so long, been reflected in my experience. The practitioner’s dynamic, insightful question set me on a new quest to discover more of the breadth, depth, and eternal promise of Love—with a capital L.

Far beyond romantic love, which ebbs and flows, God’s love can be counted on, trusted, leaned on as a constant. It’s a law upon which we can make demands. So I began to “demand” to see divine Love in operation with family and friends, career and church, and in endeavors both tiny and immense. I did this by identifying every good detail of my life as an expression of Love: a paycheck, a compliment, a realization, a large thing such as receiving an award, a small thing such as someone holding a door open for me. All the relationships in my life began to improve as I expressed more patience and less judgmentalism, more support for and fewer expectations of others. This became easier to do as I felt the constancy of Love undergirding every aspect of my life.

What I’ve discovered about the permanence of divine Love goes far beyond a single relationship.

Then, something completely unexpected happened. A family friend introduced me to a wonderful man. He’d been divorced for several years and was ready for a more harmonious relationship. He expressed qualities of maturity, adventure, and fun. We dated for several months, then became engaged. And we’ve now been enjoying a wonderful marriage for many years.

What happened to the “Prince Charming” character in this narrative? He was more fantasy than reality. By letting go of the stereotype, I made room in my thoughts and heart for someone who’s courageous, honest, interested in growing, and committed to expressing the best husband qualities he possibly can. This, in turn, inspires me to do my best as well.

Neither of us is the “be all and end all” for each other. We have good times in our separate spheres and marvelous times when we’re together. What we’re experiencing is so well described in Mrs. Eddy’s chapter on marriage, where she writes, “Home is the dearest spot on earth, and it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections” (p. 58).

We’ve also had times of difficult decisions and divergent points of view, and discouraging moments of misunderstanding. On what do we rely when the waters grow choppy? He relies on his own spiritual values. I rely on what I continue to learn in Christian Science about divine Love. I feel I’ve developed trust that allows me to lean on Love—Love that will always lead me in the right direction.

While this marriage is a concrete example of the presence of Love in my life, what I’ve discovered about the permanence of Love goes far beyond a single relationship. In fact, I’m continuing to discover new ways to both experience and express the constancy of Love’s comfort, care, and blessings for all of us—no matter what our individual relationship status might be.

Does Love come and go? It took me a long time to really answer that question. And now I can unequivocally reply, “No. Love is always right here.”

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