Forgiveness was the last thing on my mind. I’d been nurturing a grudge for years, and now the subject came up in a conversation with a spiritual mentor. I’d initially contacted this Christian Science practitioner to help me gain a more spiritual perspective on my life. When I mentioned the situation that had spawned my resentment, the practitioner said, “Forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person. It has only to do with the peace you find in your own heart.”
“Really?” I thought. I had assumed that the only way I would find peace was to get the other person to change.
You see, several years ago, a close friend implied that a member of my family had done something terribly wrong. I was sure my relative was innocent. In response, this woman closed me out of her life and out of other relationships that were very dear to me. Her problem with my family hurt me, and I was angry at the injustice. In hopes of alleviating my pain and mending the broken relationships, I often imagined possible ways to persuade my friend to see things differently, but nothing I could think of seemed likely to bring about a resolution.
Fast forward to the conversation with the practitioner. The idea that forgiveness is the way for us to feel in our own heart our God-derived peace prompted me to reexamine how I was approaching this situation. I got really quiet, and I began to listen to God. A question came, “What hurts so much?” I answered that this individual had destroyed part of my family.
Our divine Father-Mother was embracing everyone in a universal family of love.
“What is family to me?” came next. I wanted to spend some time thinking about this. Was family more than my biological or social connections? I thought of the phrase “Our Father” from the Lord’s Prayer (see Matthew 6:9–13), along with Mary Baker Eddy’s interpretation of this phrase: “Our Father-Mother God …” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 16). She elaborated further elsewhere in the book by saying, “With one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; …” (pp. 469–470). That helped me see that our divine Father-Mother was embracing everyone—His infinite spiritual ideas, which express Him—in a universal family of love. No one can destroy this family, and no one has the power to cut anyone out of it.
The more I thought about this divine family and the more I identified myself and others as part of it, the more peaceful I became, and the less I needed to blame another person for “wrecking” what was important to me, because I saw that it couldn’t be wrecked!
This was my first breakthrough—feeling the presence of universal, divine Love, our Father-Mother God, that included me and everyone.
Then, like a little bird sitting on my shoulder, an angel message whispered in my thoughts, “Have you never made a mistake in your life?” I smiled, somewhat startled. I sensed this voice was the Christ, the divine message of God’s love. Without accusation, without condemnation, the Christ was ever so gently rousing me to greater self-knowledge. I’ve made many mistakes, I admitted, and I’ve always felt a divine hand guiding me forward—helping me know how to work through these mistakes and rectify what I’ve done.
Well, if I could trust my life to the guidance of God, couldn’t I trust everyone’s life to the same benevolent power? Right then, I stopped judging, blaming, wanting to prove that the other person was wrong; I could trust God to bring about any adjustment that was needed.
It was as if a hundred-pound weight fell off my shoulders. All that bitterness, anger, and hurt just melted away. The higher power was already doing the adjusting, beginning with me. I felt free! I was healed of the grudge.
I could trust God to bring about any adjustment that was needed.
There is a coda to this healing. Soon after this complete release from resentment, I unexpectedly ran into the person against whom I’d held a grudge. Without thinking about it, I greeted her as a friend. Later, I saw her at a party. As I was about to leave, I walked over and hugged her goodbye. If someone had told me before that I would hug this woman regardless of our history, the bad feelings, the hurtful things said, I would have thought it was impossible. But it was natural, since, despite what had appeared to be going on, we are both spiritual and good, children of God, members of divine Love’s family.
As I look back on this experience, I see that the healing took place in my heart, through a better spiritual understanding, before it was expressed outwardly in the changed way I felt and acted toward this individual with genuine warmth and kindness. I now know that I’m not responsible for making someone else change and can trust that each person’s spiritual journey is between God and them alone. And I’m at peace because, no matter what another person thinks or does, I can recognize his or her real identity and know that we both love and are loved by God.
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