Healing family discord through Christian Science

[Name withheld by request]

Family as an ideal represents many things: physical and emotional security; unconditional, constant love; a quiet retreat from each day's challenges. Too often however, strife, abuse, or loneliness seems to be characteristic of the human family. The study and practice of Christian Science show that family discord can be healed through prayer.

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Often as a child and in the following years, I yearned for a family in which there was shared joy, an atmosphere of harmony and demonstrated love. I knew the members of my family loved each other, but as in many families, there was often conflict when we were together. Even at times of relative harmony, I would be on edge, afraid inharmony would erupt at any moment. Family times were not happy times for me. Later as an adult, single and living alone, I longed for my own family, one more harmonious than I felt I had.

One year as the Christmas holidays approached, I began to think about my trip home. I dreaded it! I loved my parents and appreciated all they had done for me; so out of a sense of duty I planned to go. But I really didn't want to go.

That particular year it occurred to me that I could bring healing light to the situation. I had become a student of Christian Science and accepted the truth of God's goodness and the consequent perfection and harmony of His creation. I had experienced healings resulting from prayer—prayer that recognized and affirmed the perfection of man made in God's image. This recognition of truth had been naturally displacing the fears and false beliefs in my thought and then in my human experience.

In this case what was needed was a clear and correct concept of family. So I began my healing work by doing research in the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings, especially her book Science and Health. Using Concordances, I found references on topics such as family, father, mother, brother, sister, unity and other related ideas. As a result of this study, several things became clear.

In the Bible I found Jesus saying, "Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." Matt. 23:9. In Science and Health I was introduced to the idea that God is Father-Mother of us all. The Bible is full of accounts of God's practical fathering and mothering; He feeds, guides, and protects His own. I realized that I was one of those children and that my heritage, provision, and government were from God. I thought about these facts often and especially loved thinking about how "pleased" God was to give me—and all mankind—all good. As Christ Jesus put it: "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Luke 12:32.

Family describes the unity of God's ideas. "Man," states Science and Health, "is the family name for all ideas,—the sons and daughters of God." Science and Health, p. 515. Man is the individual spiritual manifestation of God, and the whole family of man bears witness to God. God is the head of the family. All the family members, God's spiritual ideas, are under His loving control, obedient to Him and thus in concord with one another, expressing His harmony, unity, order. I rejoiced that family unity, oneness, was truly a spiritual fact, one that could be demonstrated in healing.

After spending time in study and then using these truths in prayer, I remembered the statement in Science and Health about the understanding prayer that includes an honest desire to do right: "Such prayer is answered, in so far as we put our desires into practice." Ibid., p. 15. So I needed also to live my highest sense of family. To help me do this I made a list of things that people did in families to express harmony, order, love. My list included things like the following: building up one another, caring for one another's needs, appreciating one another's spiritual individuality, being considerate of one another's rights. And then I endeavored to live these. I recall two examples.

In one case, I had heard some gossip about a co-worker and was eager to share it. Then I recalled that the family way was to heal and not broadcast another's faults. So I rejected the information as not spiritually true of the woman, who was really the Father's perfect child; and the gossip was not passed on.

The other instance proved to be a greater challenge. I worked closely with a man who often irritated me. This had gone on for as long as we had worked together. But now I resolved to love, to respect his competence, and to acknowledge his individuality, his right to approach things differently than I did. As ideas of God we were members of God's family, and each had a place, purpose, and sure reward. Neither could interfere with the other's expression of God. I prayed often to set aside self-will and personal sense and to see all of us in our Godlike perfection and unity in the kingdom of God. Over time I was no longer aware of wanting to love; the loving and caring became natural. A deep family relationship developed between us, which included both personal warmth and professional respect.

That particular year when I went home for my Christmas visit, we had the most "family" visit ever. When it was time to leave, for the first time in my life I wasn't glad to escape from my family. We had sweetness, unity, and quiet joy in one another's presence. And our family never went back to the old way; step by small step our sense of family harmony continued to grow.

Healing discord in one family is of course cause for great gratitude. But it has significance far beyond this one healing. God is the Father-Mother of man, of every member of His spiritual family, and He maintains harmony and order in His creation everywhere. These are spiritual facts. Spiritual facts can be demonstrated in human experience, because they are the reality, not what the material senses say. Our study and practice of Christian Science bear witness to this. As we recognize the universal application of Truth and the God-power enforcing Truth as law, we can rightfully expect to see the demonstration of healing on a much broader scale. Then racial, religious, and political strife can and will be healed, as surely as family discord.

December 9, 1985

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