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TeenConnect: UpFront

Stop the drama

From the Christian Science Sentinel - July 6, 2017

From the teen column: UpFront - July 6, 2017

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TeenConnect: Up Front

It was the perfect storm—of drama. There was one person in my circle who seemed prone to emotional outbursts, pouting, giving others the silent treatment, and just generally being unpredictable. One day she was sweet and fun to be around, and the next, she’d be terrorizing someone in the group with one of her terrible moods.

Yes, she had her issues, but the rest of us also had our own—and we didn’t handle things very well. We spent a lot of time talking about her, analyzing her behavior, feeling hurt when it was directed at us, and getting buffeted by her emotional gales.

Believe it or not, this soap opera didn’t take place during high school, although all the drama certainly reminded me of the friendship highs and lows of my teen years. To be fair, my high school friends and I got along well overall and resolved our problems quickly. So maybe “drama” seems like a strong word. But to me, it’s a good description of anything that has us acting out roles that aren’t natural to us: the drama queen, the misunderstood friend, the victim, or the gossip.

“Drama” is a good description of anything that has us acting out roles that aren’t natural to us.

Understanding that we don’t have to take on these unnatural roles is the first step in eliminating friend and relationship drama. While it may feel like we’re each just a bunch of personality traits, with the worst ones leading to friend and relationship issues, I’ve learned through my study of Christian Science that each of us is actually God’s child. 

What does that mean? Well, since God is Love, which governs by the divine law of universal harmony, the son or daughter of Love must express compassion, unselfishness, and kindness. Since God is Soul, each of us must consistently embody peace and goodness, not moodiness and unpredictability.

Seeing those qualities right where a drama is being played out isn’t about ignoring bad behavior or pretending it doesn’t affect you. It’s actually a little bit like being Peter in the story from the Bible where Jesus walks on the water—in the middle of a storm!—to meet the disciples’ boat (see Matthew 14:22–32). When Peter recognizes that it’s Jesus, he asks Jesus if he can walk on the water, too. When Jesus encourages him, he gets out of the boat and starts across the surface of the water. It’s what happens next that’s been helpful to me in dealing with drama. 

When I stayed true to a Christly view, the drama with my friend almost totally evaporated.

When Peter keeps his focus completely on Christ Jesus (no emotional drama there), he moves across the top of the sea with no problem. But the moment Peter becomes distracted by the storm raging around him—the size of the waves and the whipping of the wind—he becomes fearful and begins to sink. What saves him is the tender Christ presence, which lifts him up out of those feelings of being afraid, distracted, and overwhelmed, and shows him that he’s safe. In fact, it shows him that everyone is safe. The story ends with Jesus and Peter making it back to the boat—and the storm stops. 

In dealing with that difficult friend, I realized that the drama, the outbursts, and my own inclination to discuss and bemoan her behavior with other friends, were like the storm in the story of Peter; they were distractions from what was really going on. Instead, in those challenging moments, I had the opportunity to keep my thoughts on the love of God, expressed by the Christ, and what the Christ was showing me. 

Here’s the way Mary Baker Eddy explains it in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Christ presents the indestructible man, whom Spirit creates, constitutes, and governs” (p. 316). That spiritual vision, that true view, is what stops the storm. It’s what shows us that as God’s children, we’re safe—safe from acting out negative roles or being something other than the way God created us.

When I stayed true to that Christly view, the drama with my friend almost totally evaporated. Though she still had the occasional mood swing, her outbursts became less frequent. Even better, when they did happen, I didn’t react anymore. I never would’ve thought that this was possible—which is how I know this was definitely a healing for me, and that it also helped my friend.

Our families, friends, churches, and schools, as well as our world at large, need each of us to be agents of peace. So while we may still encounter drama, we don’t have to get caught up in it. The Bible promises: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (Isaiah 26:3). Keeping our thoughts close to God enables us to be unmoved by the winds and waves of daily life. Instead, it empowers us to bring peace with us—and to still storms wherever we go.

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