Growing spiritually is an amazing, soul-feeding thing that happens when God becomes so central to life, to being. And yet at points on my spiritual journey, I’ve felt reluctant to “leave all for Christ” for fear that I will become an ascetic and lose touch with those I love. But what does it really mean to love God with “all your heart and with all your soul” (see Josh. 22:5). What is lost and what is gained? Does spiritual devotion equal coldness and solitude?
The other day, while I was sitting in my office, a cardboard box perched on top of some file boxes caught my eye. On the side of the box were the words wireless router. Hmm. I thought back to the days before wireless Internet. Remember when we had dial-up and ethernet cords to connect us to the Internet? What a revolution it was to have the option to go wireless—moving from the tangible to the intangible! At first, it may have been unthinkable that we would relinquish our secure cords for this wireless connection. But now having weathered the transition myself, I can attest that a wireless connection has enhanced my Internet use. With Wi-Fi, there’s an even faster, more versatile connection.
I am learning that the tie that binds me to others is that central love of God—a love
of virtue and Truth. It’s much bigger than
a biological or emotional connection.
Going “Wi-Fi” with our lives is like letting go of our personal ego or limiting attachments to things and people. But I don’t think this means we become withdrawn. As we grow in our devotion to God, our connection with other people is strengthened by greater trust and inspiration that God is caring for each of Her children directly.
It might seem like a stretch to obey Jesus’ command to “call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9). But I find it very attractive and liberating to remember that God is the Creator of all-enabling good at all times. I seem most tangled up when I think that I am the glue or the source of happiness or health for my friends and family. What a heavy load to carry! Instead, I am learning that the tie that binds me to others is that central love of God—a love of virtue and Truth. It’s much bigger than a biological or emotional connection.
Mary Baker Eddy knew what it means to be weaned from leaning on human ties. She faced plenty of disappointments in her immediate family and even among students. She had to pursue higher ways of relating to people, and wrote: “The spiritually minded meet on the stairs which lead up to spiritual love. This affection, so far from being personal worship, fulfils the law of Love which Paul enjoined upon the Galatians. This is the Mind ‘which was also in Christ Jesus,’ and knows no material limitations. It is the unity of good and bond of perfectness” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 76).
In the New Testament, the disciples gave up ties to their businesses, such as fishing, in order to follow Jesus. This meant relinquishing a reliable means of earning an income to trust a new path. The early students and workers in the Christian Science movement had similar fervor when they committed their lives fully to healing work, and yet I wonder if both the disciples and pioneering Christian Scientists felt uncertain at times, maybe even asking, “Will I lose touch with those I love?”
I’m learning that as I find my connection with God, my relationships with other people are strengthened, diversified, less possessive, and increasingly compassionate. Growing spiritually or being more Christlike—more unselfish, more aware of the whole—helps me understand the ontological sense that God is All, the only. Mrs. Eddy states, “Ontology is defined as ‘the science of the necessary constituents and relations of all beings,’ and it underlies all metaphysical practice” (Science and Health, p. 460). Oneness promotes wholeness and unity. It seems that the only thing lost by devoting our thoughts and desires to God is the harried sense of never feeling satisfied with human relationships. That’s not such a bad thing to lose!
A few years ago, I went by myself to attend a “Twelfth Night” service in the town where I lived. Twelfth Night is a time concluding the 12 days of Christmas, when some Christian churches celebrate Epiphany, or the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus, considered to be when the Christ is revealed to the world. Sitting in this ecumenical service, listening to the various religious leaders speak, and watching the lighting of candles, I felt deeply moved by the examples of devotion that I saw. I felt a connection to the other people in my community that I hadn’t felt in quite a while.
I had been getting even more into my study of Christian Science, including regular study of the Bible, and felt hungry to share what I was learning with other people. At the same time, I wondered if this spiritual devotion wasn’t taking me further from my friends. I hoped not.
But right there in my community, taking the time to worship, I knew that I wasn’t alone. I found this spiritual connectedness in a community church service. Maybe others will find it on a sports field, first date, or at work. But as God’s ideas, we are a significant part of how God expresses Herself. Devotion is about loving God, not elevating ourselves above others or isolating ourselves. Our gentle, faithful expression and growing spiritually cannot preclude or invalidate a love for other people.
Finally, this past fall I traveled to Asia to visit friends and to learn how religion and spirituality play a role in people’s lives. Prior to the trip, I spent time praying to discern what this trip was all about. In my heart, I knew it wasn’t just for my own enrichment but to see the universal nature of God and how God is present in the hearts and minds of people around the world. I knew that there would be challenges on the trip, but starting from a place of prayer and devotion set a tone of flexibility and spontaneity.
Sometimes people are afraid to leave the familiar ties, the “cords” of mortal life, but I’m finding that “going wireless” with our lives and love is OK. Putting God at the center enhances every part of being—because we aren’t searching madly to find happiness and connectedness in transient ways.
I don’t think any of us wants to travel this path alone, and yet it’s clear we have to let go of some of the old ways of doing things, and perhaps of worrying about how love will appear in our lives, if we want to make way for new, more divine possibilities.
As we all draw close to God, to the Divine, we will find that unencumbered connection with our source and the All of creation.
Ginger Mack is a Christian Science practitioner from Madison, Wisconsin.
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