I was on a road trip with college friends. I had known these girls, especially one of them, for several semesters. But being together around campus and traveling together on a road trip were very different experiences.
On the way home, we unknowingly took a wrong turn out of town and headed east instead of west. For several hours, none of the towns we passed through seemed to be on our map, and by the time we realized what had happened, we were seriously delayed. We’d planned to stay with a cousin on the way home, but because of the map-reading mistake, that was clearly out of the question. To make matters worse, when my parents had lent us the car, they’d asked us to drive only during daylight hours, and now we were driving into the night. My friends were unconcerned about my parents’ rule, but I became angry and a bit sour.
My friends were unconcerned about my parents’ rule, but I became angry and a bit sour.
When my turn to drive ended, I rotated to the back seat and found myself in a terrific struggle. I knew it wasn’t right to be so angry, but I couldn’t stop feeling that I was the “righteous” one against the three of them.
As we drove along, a poem by Mary Baker Eddy that I’d learned in Christian Science Sunday School kept coming to mind. But I resisted it. I couldn’t understand what a prayer like “Shepherd, show me how to go” (Poems, p. 14) had to do with my problem.
Yet as the evening wore on, and I tired of my mental wrestling, I finally obeyed that divine nudge and began to go through the poem line by line. I knew it by heart because I had sung it as a hymn many times while I was growing up. When I reached the words “Make self-righteousness be still,” I realized how bad I’d been acting. Sure, we could have stopped at a motel earlier—before dark—but our situation was pretty much unavoidable. And it wasn’t really anyone’s fault. As this gentle recognition of everyone’s innocence dawned on me, I felt a great relief, my anger dissolved, and I completely let go of any feeling that my companions were enemies, or anything less than friends.
As this gentle recognition of everyone’s innocence dawned on me, I felt a great relief, and my anger dissolved.
The tension in the car broke, and we all began laughing and joking. Just a few minutes later, we found a motel where we could spend the night, and the rest of our trip home was uneventful. A few years after that adventure, one of my friends from that trip was even a bridesmaid at my wedding, and we kept in touch for a long time after that.
This experience was a great example of God’s ideas always being there to help us when we find ourselves tempted to fall for an attitude of “me versus them” or “I’m right.” God is infinite, all-embracing Love, and when we feel this love, self-righteousness—or anything that would make us feel separate from others—naturally dissolves. Then we can do more than simply get along; we can feel and demonstrate our oneness with each other—and the joy that comes with it.