Breaking through victimization

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 2016.

I am so inspired by the account of the Nigerian woman photographing her people’s strength and joy, encouraging them to rise above hopelessness, to uphold their dignity, and to help one another (see editorial on facing page).

No matter how difficult our circumstances may be, we can turn away from hopelessness to something greater and more powerful. I’ve come to see that this greater power is God, divine Love, and it is the basis for our hope and courage. The all-encompassing love of our Father-Mother God is right here, now. Christ Jesus best expressed this love, for all time. Like the sun shining through the clouds, the healing Christ, which Mary Baker Eddy explains as “the spiritual idea of divine Love” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 38), illuminates even the darkest of circumstances.

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One of my favorite Bible stories is when Paul and Silas, victims of religious persecution, sang hymns in prison. There seemed no escape, yet they turned away from hopelessness and began to pray and to sing praises to God. Suddenly, there was an earthquake, and the prisoners’ bonds dropped off and the doors opened. Most touching to me is that even though they were physically freed to escape, they waited for the guard to recognize their freedom and lead them from the prison (see Acts 16:16–40).

Today, prayer continues to help us recognize everyone’s freedom from adversity, large and small. Some years ago, praying released me from an oppressive financial partnership in which I found myself. Resenting the inequity of the relationship, I was constantly on my partner’s case. I was concerned though that this was beating the individual down and perpetuating a cycle of victimization.

So I earnestly strove to see that God, Spirit, had made both me and the other individual spiritually. The Bible explains, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsufferring, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Galatians 5:22, 23). There was nothing that could stop these qualities of God from being expressed in us.

Instead of dwelling on resentment, fear, blame, and guilt, I prayed for the grace to stop reliving the past and instead to see the goodness of God that was right there—and there was much! This helped me to speak kindly and patiently to my partner, and eventually an amicable and equitable dissolving of the partnership came about. While I was relieved, I continued to pray to gain complete freedom from feeling that the years in the partnership had taken a toll on me. This meant refusing to see either of us as a victim or a victimizer. Recently, when a family member brought up my experience, I realized that I felt no resentment, blame, or guilt. I felt completely free from any sense of victimization.

As we actively witness the expression of God in ourselves and others, we find there is nothing that can truly oppress us. Each of us has the right and ability to pray in a way that holds up the qualities of God, good. This is not ignoring problems. It is caring enough to do more than empathetically suffer with victimization. It is to engage in the compassionate and healing solution to it.

Adapted from an article published in The Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 2016.

Guest Editorial
To defend our Cause
February 13, 2017

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