Looking for a Friend?
AFTER many happy years in a large metropolitan area, I moved to a new job in a smaller city. The first few days of settling in were busy. Then, after a routine was established, I fully realized: My friends were hundreds of miles away! I knew a few people at my new job. But every time I made a lunch date, something would come up with my job -- which had tight deadlines -- and I would have to cancel. Three months into the job I still had no friends. I don't mind being alone, but I didn't like being all alone.
At this point I thought: Why not pray to God for help in overcoming the loneliness? I knew from my study of the Scriptures that Christ Jesus had regularly turned to God for help. And from the Bible I knew that God is Love and that He loves all of His children. Which meant that He loved me, too. But nothing much changed until one afternoon while I was taking a walk. I was feeling desperate and thought, ``O God, please send me a friend....'' At that moment, I saw a person in the distance and added, ``...like that one!''
To my amazement, the person turned out to be a friend of mine from the city I had left! She had come to town unexpectedly and, in a city of several hundred thousand people, we had met. After she left, I found myself thinking about the experience. Jesus said, ``This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.''1 The day-to-day love he expressed was based on prayer and on his certainty that God loves all His children. He knew God as Father and taught that we too should think in these terms.
Since we are all children of this one Father, it is natural for us to love one another. And there are many ways that we can show this. For example, really listening to what someone is saying or being patient with someone who is having difficulties. As we do this, we are taking the first steps into the kind of spiritual life Christ Jesus urged us to lead. As we become more accustomed to turning to God as our Father, we begin to see that love is a natural part of spiritual living.
But more than this, we are learning that our relationship to God and to one another is spiritual. So much of life argues that we are mortal beings, struggling against frustration, anger, loneliness. But, in truth, we are spiritual -- inseparable from God, from Love. To know and feel this to be true is not always easy. But if we are willing to make the effort, we are turning our lives over to Christ, to the true idea of God. Then we are replacing anger with love. And this love is actually a way of expressing God's nature wherever we are. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, addresses this idea in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. She says, ``Universal Love is the divine way in Christian Science.''2
Continuing to pray this way, I asked myself, ``How can I be more loving?'' One way was to take extra time to be friendly in the day-to-day operations at work. Instead of thinking so much about my needs, I began to try to think of others. Gradually my thoughts began to shift away from my own problems to a desire to understand God better and to live more of my actual spirituality. I wanted to be able to see and express His Christ. As I prayed, the obstacles to meeting people and having lunch with them were eliminated. Friendships took root and grew strong.
While making friends may be easier or harder depending on the circumstances, prayer can do much to show us how to love one another. And as we spiritualize our concept of who we really are -- the children of God -- wonderful things can happen.
1John 15:12. 2Science and Health, p. 266.