“Is that your job?” A question sparks healing.
I realized that it wasn’t my relatives that needed to change but my thinking about them.
Originally published for the Christian Science Sentinel online on December 15, 2022
During the month before Christmas one year, I began getting calls from two of my relatives. They’d had a big fight, and each wanted to tell me their side of the story. As angry accusations flew back and forth, neither person wanted anything to do with the other. Prospects for the family Christmas party were looking dim.
I did my best to calm each relative and, after many more phone calls, managed to broker a shaky peace. We were all relieved that plans for the family get-together were back on. But a few days before Christmas, I woke up feeling sick and so exhausted that I could hardly get out of bed.
As I reached out to God in prayer, I knew that there was more to address than the physical symptoms. I felt burdened. I was afraid my relatives would have another fight and spoil Christmas for the whole family.
When I called a Christian Science practitioner for prayer, I told her that this wasn’t the first time I’d been called upon to help these relatives sort out their disagreements. I explained how hard I’d been trying to help them get along better, but the practitioner wasn’t impressed. After listening patiently, she asked, “Is that your job?”
As I prayed to understand the true role of a peacemaker, I realized that it begins with understanding God.
This question put the situation in a new light. I recalled that once when Christ Jesus was asked to settle a family dispute, he replied, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” (Luke 12:14). I reasoned that if Jesus didn’t need to step in and mediate a quarrel, maybe I didn’t either.
But what about the beatitude “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9)? As I prayed to understand the true role of a peacemaker, I realized that it begins with understanding God as the creator and governor of all. Each of God’s children has a direct relationship to Him that is always intact, is never dysfunctional, and requires no mediator. And since God is totally good, every aspect of His creation must also be good. In God’s infinitude, there is no room for conflict.
Soon I realized that it wasn’t my relatives that needed to change but my thinking about them. I grasped that my responsibility was to stop viewing them as all-too-human personalities regularly at odds with each other and instead follow Jesus’ example: I could leave my loved ones in the care of their Father-Mother God, knowing that in reality they are obedient to Him and in harmony with each other.
It was so clear that God didn’t make me a judge over my family—and that my family couldn’t make me one either.
The burden and fatigue melted away, and I soon felt fine as I thought about God embracing us all in one love, maintaining us forever at peace. It was so clear that God didn’t make me a judge over my family—and that my family couldn’t make me one either.
Within the next day or so, I got calls from both relatives letting me know that all was well between them and that they were looking forward to spending Christmas together. We all ended up having a happy holiday. And though that wasn’t the last argument they ever had, the rancor was gone, and their relationship was more harmonious going forward. When occasional conflicts did come up, I resisted the temptation to get pulled in, and the two were always able to work things out themselves.
I am very grateful for what Christian Science teaches about the foundation for healthy relationships, which is our true, spiritual relation to God. A clear understanding of our perfect and uninterrupted oneness with divine Love, God, promotes peace within us and with each other.