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Love--and differences

YOU don't have to be a pollster to know of the divisions among many people on the issue of where women belong. Just tune in to the conversations of two women as different as my mother and me. Mother thinks it's a shame women aren't satisfied to stay at home anymore. She says women who have to work ought to get equal pay, of course. But she feels people should value the work and nurturing of homemaking first. ``Then so many marriages wouldn't go on the rocks.'' I think I understand my mother's view, which is related to her own generation, her own marriage. But I have another point of view. ``Mother, each woman ought to be able to decide for herself. Maybe marriage. Maybe a job, too, or children, or both. Maybe no marriage or children. But let each work it out individually--not like playing an assigned part. What about me? I've combined marriage and children and work.'' She didn't reply, ``You had me to help.'' What she said was, ``Naturally, dear, but that's different. I mean you are different; you have to be yourself, and of course, I love you.'' I was touched by her succinct explanation of acceptance. It reminded me that each of us, man or woman, of whatever age, can be accepted as uniquely himself or herself, with our differences, and that love is the key to domestic peace. For my mother and me, reliance on prayer and on universal truths from the Bible has deepened this love. She the homemaker, I the professional woman--we who have to be ourselves--both have found, and continue to find, specific comfort in Christ Jesus' life, and in such words as: ``Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.'' 1 ``Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.'' 2 The basic issue here is not so much where a woman--or a man--puts individuality to work, but the spiritual perception of what individuality really is. We gain that perception through accepting and loving our spiritual integrity as the children of God. To think of ourselves or others simply as male or female creatures, jogging through disparate spheres, blurs the true focus. But to identify ourselves as the sons and daughters of God, Spirit, leads in far more interesting directions than any role playing, conformity, or myth making. Then we find it less of a struggle to love, to express goodness, to determine what is fair and best for all concerned. Awareness of our spiritual identity also releases gracious encouragement for others to seek their own highest desire, and in such love for another we begin to display the quilt of mutual understanding. More vital than rhetoric or rationalized decisions, however compelling they may be, is that second factor of my mother's logic--the ``I love you''--because it survives disagreement without bitterness and can eventually bring healing. Such affection, uplifted by meekness and purity of thought, is at the heart of Christian values. Nor is it too much to expect that we can follow the example of Christ Jesus--a life favoring godliness over all other desires and demands. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ``Jesus was compassionate, true, faithful to rebuke, ready to forgive. He said, `Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' `Love one another, as I have loved you.' No estrangement, no emulation, no deceit, enters into the heart that loves as Jesus loved.'' 3 1 Matthew 6:33. 2 Matthew 5:9. 3 Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 18.

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