A Christian Science perspective.
I’ve noticed that since about mid-January, every store I’ve gone into is advertising its wares through the lens of Valentine’s Day. The messages range from “Lovestruck,” “Shop Love and Romance,” “Be Mine,” “Show that special someone you care,” to “Sweet-talk your valentine with a box of chocolates” or “Add some sparkle to Valentine’s Day with jewelry.”
Recently I saw a movie in which the husband adored his wife and really supported her endeavors; he championed her and reinforced her qualities when she was feeling discouraged. As a single woman, I found myself thinking how nice it would be to have a companion like that. Later, a friend of mine asked me when was the last time I’d gone on a date. These thoughts, along with the barrage of “love” messages in the media, began to make me feel that there was something missing from my life, and this was disheartening.
But then I thought, “Hang on a minute! My life is satisfying and my activities are fulfilling. I have enriching relationships, and they are filled with love and caring. I wasn’t feeling any lack a week ago! What’s different?”
I had to ask myself, “Do you really feel you’re lacking something because you’re not in a relationship? Is the fact that you’re single truly discouraging? Are these really your thoughts, or are they suggestions?”
While my days are filled with meaningful and fulfilling activity now, there was certainly a time when I truly desired to be married and start a family, which I did. These were legitimate desires. Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy states in the chapter called “Marriage” in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” that “true harmony is in spiritual oneness” (p. 57). She says of couples, “Fulfilling the different demands of their united spheres, their sympathies should blend in sweet confidence and cheer, each partner sustaining the other, – thus hallowing the union of interests and affections, in which the heart finds peace and home” (p. 59).
While a deep desire for companionship is natural, a subliminal message designed to drive sales by pairing products with our emotions can subconsciously affect us. Now that I’m no longer married, I’ve found it particularly helpful to be alert to these suggestions.
I remembered back to my university days when I studied psychology and classical conditioning. Pavlov’s renowned research during the mid- to late 1800s illustrated the power of suggestion. During the same period in history, Mrs. Eddy was doing her own research into the healing power of the Christ, Truth, which Jesus taught and demonstrated as illustrated throughout the New Testament of the Bible. Eddy was alert to the idea of mental suggestion and its effects: “Unless one’s eyes are opened to the modes of mental malpractice, working so subtly that we mistake its suggestions for the impulses of our own thought, the victim will allow himself to drift in the wrong direction without knowing it” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 213).
I saw that that’s exactly what had happened to me. Those ads for Valentine’s Day gifts, the movie I watched, and my friend’s question about dating had all so subtly suggested that I should be in a romantic relationship that I began to mistake the idea for my own thinking. And I was drifting into feeling that I was missing something important.
Thankfully, I’d already taken the first step in liberating myself from this false sense; I had identified the fact that these were not my thoughts. The next step was to get clear about what my thoughts truly were – to declare what I already knew about myself – that my life is satisfying and fulfilling, that I have enriching relationships filled with love and caring.
St. Paul wrote, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). To me this says he knew that consolation can be found only in the mind of Christ, which Eddy described as illustrating “that blending with God, his divine Principle, which gives man dominion over all the earth” (Science and Health, p. 316).
Not only was I consoled, my consciousness was restored to its natural state, that of harmony and peace.
Anyone who is feeling he or she is lacking companionship has the capacity to love and be loved. Wherever an individual’s desire for companionship may come from – a deep place in one’s own heart, or the barrage of media messages that imply that if we’re not in a relationship we are necessarily dissatisfied – the source of all love, God as divine Love itself, is always embracing, guiding, and moving each of us in just the way we most need. Opening our hearts to that guidance and following it will lead us toward finding genuine satisfaction.