Bean soup and marriage
THE soup bubbled on the stove, its friendly fragrance mingling with the spice from the apple bread in the oven. Its steam traveled invisibly across the room and condensed on the windowpane so thickly that it completely obscured the scene beyond. Of course, I did not have to throw out the soup to clear the window. Warmth from the fireplace quickly did that, and once again I could enjoy the lively view-- sun-dazzled snow, wild birds scrambling at the feeder, a pair of red squirrels checking out their daily peanut supply.
It reminded me of my marriage and a rash on my hand. Like the soup and the condensation, there was no visible connection, but the rash had developed under my wedding ring! As a Christian Scientist I turned to God for healing, and an important lesson soon became obvious. I had been irritated with my marriage, and something had to change. Happily, I didn't have to throw out the marriage to clear up the rash, but I did have to eliminate criticism and replace it with Christly love, which does not wait for favorable conditions but demands daily expression. The rash disappeared overnight, my disposition improved, and the ring once again rested comfortably on my finger.
When a relationship comes to a boil, and the mental steam it generates shows up in some unexpected places, the answer is not to willfully throw away the marriage but to focus on it the warmth of God's love for all His children. This love is always with us, but sometimes it needs to be expressed to a greater extent, especially toward those nearest us, and particularly during the most trying times.
Christian Science teaches us to turn to the one divine Mind, God, to find the solution to problems. This brings us into harmony with the Biblical command ``Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.'' 1 Within that quiet consciousness of good that comes through communion with our creator lie all the qualities needed to put a firm foundation under an unsteady relationship. Loyalty, patience, appreciation--and, above all, forgiveness--are some of the healing elements that characterize Christlike love emanating from divine Mind.
Prayer, receptive to God's spiritual harmony and enlightenment, uncovers attitudes that belong neither to God nor to His image, man. Such prayer so purifies the thinking of the one praying that the very qualities needed to protect and strengthen a marriage come clearly into view, dissolving hostilities.
How tempting it is to believe that happiness depends on another's willingness to shape up! However justified such a view may seem, it rarely leads to healing. Rather, it often detours a marriage downhill to a dead end, with no winners and nothing left but abundant opportunity to fix the blame. As we are willing to gain a spiritually based attitude ourselves, we are more likely to find that the tense atmosphere is relieved and that our own calmness influences those around us.
The Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy,2 devotes an entire chapter to the subject of marriage.3 It emphasizes individual fidelity and moral integrity as the strength of family unity. It helps us understand that our commitment to God is directly related to our commitment to each other. The Bible asks, ``He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?'' 4
In order to love God and our fellow beings we need to make a commitment to be morally right ourselves. Such commitment does not involve a resigned attitude that learns to live with a simmering situation, nor is it an experimental commitment. (Such a contradiction in terms amounts to no commitment at all.) The commitment that heals is a firm allegiance to express good unselfishly, and to reflect the God-imparted dominion required to express good, regardless of what others do. Such Christian character has its source in the most dependable relationship of all--man's sonship with God. Our commitment to worship the one God as our creator does not remove us from daily experiences but so improves them that it brings us into line with the unity that Christianity promises.
Today's marriage covenant needs to be relieved of steaming discord and frosty indifference. God's love, understood and expressed, is the warmth that melts icy hostilities. The Psalmist said, ``Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.'' 5 The perception of God's tender care encourages and comforts. The way clears. Everyone benefits.
1 Philippians 2:5. 2 The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science. 3 See pp. 56-69. 4 I John 4:20. 5 Psalms 37:5.