It’s not surprising that many of the relationships we see around us, or have ourselves, are strained if not broken. But why the surprise if people are what they often appear to be — a lot of messed-up mortals?
But hold on. How many of the people you work with side by side or pass in the aisle of the grocery store can you honestly say you know really, really well? Are they, in fact, messed-up mortals?
A friend of mine likens relationships with others as similar to having a classic book in your hand but never reading beyond the title page. There’s a lot more to know than what you see on the surface. In thinking about my friend’s comment I’ve found a New Testament writer as having a similar, though more profound view. He wrote: “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”
Feeling the need to have deeper, stronger relationships in my own life I’m inclined to look for more of those “angels,” where I’d been seeing only “strangers.” The effect has been not only new friendships, but superficial relationships have been strengthened, built on a truer sense of what each individual represents as an expression of the intelligence and goodness of God. I’m convinced that I’m seeing something very special—angelic, you might say—each time I see an expression of gratitude, an offer to help another, a measure of humility, or an unselfish act.
If you think about it, what underlies these heartfelt expressions and cements human bonds is quite amazing. It’s the fact that our relationship with one another is based on and governed by our relation to God, Love, the creator of man and the universe. “For in him we live, and move, and have our being,” it says in the New Testament. There’s nothing random, shallow, cold, or absent in the relation of God’s children to their Maker, and therefore to one another. In Science and Health Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The relations of God and man, divine Principle and idea, are indestructible in Science; and Science knows no lapse from nor return to harmony, but holds the divine order or spiritual law, in which God and all that He creates are perfect and eternal, to have remained unchanged in its eternal history.”
Consider what it means to have already a deep, permanent spiritual bond with our fellowman because we’re all offspring of the same joyous, perfect Creator. What if we were consistently thinking and acting truer to this heritage, reflecting God’s nature, and weren’t so readily accepting that we’re saddled with poor or shallow relationships?
Yet at times the obstacles to good relations seem insurmountable. Reading the news the other day I ran across words like irreconcilable, intense distrust, and hostility all in a single story describing the clash between ethnic groups in a particular region of the world. It’s tempting to believe there’s no hope of ever seeing civility or cooperation develop in an area marked by hatred and bloodshed. What reason do we have to believe that peaceful, meaningful relations could ever emerge from such entrenched disunity?
Isn’t it the overarching fact that inherent in each of us is the capacity — the spiritual sense — to recognize that we are the sons and daughters of one creator, the children of divine Love? What we sense spiritually is something of this deeper, enduring link we have to one another, a sense of our relationship as family, which ultimately supersedes historical, geographical, cultural, or biological ties.
When we think of ourselves as beings who were randomly formed, are self-centered, materialistic, emotion-driven—more uncaring than affectionate—then our basis for getting along with others is precarious at best. On the false assumption that man is composed of opposite components — both good and evil — we meet up with good friends on occasion but expect to encounter messed up people the rest of the time. As such most of our relations will never be more than fragile at best.
Our actual link to one another is spiritual and permanent. It doesn’t start when a friendship develops or a partnership is formed, nor does it dissolve when there are personal disagreements or even eruptions of war. Harmony is the eternal order of God’s universe, inclusive of man.
When we yearn to see others from this scientific standpoint it becomes clear we’re not just so many disparate mortals trying to force things together within a fractured, willful existence. Prayer becomes the means for being freed from that false sense and discerning the inspired idea that we’re intelligently and naturally compatible beyond anything humanly imagined. And in living more fully as the likeness of Love, we make a sincere effort to drop the tangled, negative mental qualities that would divide us, and instead devote ourselves to rightly relating to one another.
The impulsion of divine Love is universal, urging us all to become better acquainted with who we really are—members of one indivisible family, the offspring of God. When we think less about what’s missing or maligned in others, and more about what’s there to be seen and known, we’ll see and know them as they truly are. And the world will be a better place for it.