I THOUGHT I had forgiven him, but now I wasn't so sure. Through his fraudulent actions, our family had lost a great deal of money. This person, actually a family member himself, had just been released from prison. The next morning, I was going to have to see him. I anguished over the prospect of meeting with him face to face. I was enraged. Yet I knew that there was nothing to be gained from such feelings. Others might agree that all the hurt he had caused justified my resentment of him. But in my heart,
the resentment felt miserable. I was afraid, too. I was afraid that this individual could continue to cause havoc in my life. I felt that he was evil and we were not safe from the harm he could cause.
From past experience, I had learned that I could trust prayer to bring comfort and clear-mindedness. I called a friend, a Christian Scientist, to pray with me and to support my own prayer. I was in desperate need of peace and perspective. I knew they could be gained by turning to God in prayer. I then turned to the Bible, which had been a friend and guide so many times in my life. In it I found a passage in Matthew where Christ Jesus tells his followers, "Love your enemies and adds, "Pray for them which despitefully use you. Wasn't this asking too much? How could I pray for someone who had done such personal, criminal injury? Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures helped me to sort through my fears and concerns.
Since God is totally good, then God's creation is spiritual and is only good. This includes man. Man, as God's expression of Himself, is only good. Regardless of what seemed to me to be very strong evidence that this person was evil, the spiritual fact remained that man's true selfhood is neither mortal nor evil. An evil mortal is not the man of God's creating. Mrs. Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, points out in Science and Health: "Nothing is real and eternal,--nothing is Spirit,-- but God and His idea. Evil has no reality. It is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense. As I thought about these ideas, I began to see that the Christly demand was not just to love an evildoer. The demand was to allow myself to understand that evil, no matter how personal it seems to be, could exist only as a deception since God is All. In the deepest, Christian sense, an evil person is a false concept of man.
It was not easy. I spent the night in prayer, wrestling with these questions. But it made sense to me that God, the Maker of all, could not make evil. This kind of spiritual reasoning was not naively turning my back on evil. It was healing it. My fear and resentment yielded. I knew I was safe. I could meet this fellow face to face. He was not the enemy. It was a false belief of man--of a man unlike God--that was the only enemy.
As I watched the sun come up that morning, I was at peace. I knew the meeting could be productive. And it was. There is nothing other than prayer that could have given me the poise and strength so needed in this encounter. I was not intimidated or fearful or angry at any moment. For me, this was healing.
It is so easy to believe that evil can take irreversible control of people. But step by step, prayer upon prayer, the real enemy, spiritual ignorance, can be healed. The genuine love we so want to feel for others can fill our hearts. It's worth whatever effort is required, for only then will we support the real harmony and unity among men that the world needs.