Put Away All Bitterness
SHE was abandoned by her husband, left with four children, two of them still quite young. Before that, there had been his flagrant adultery. She and the children moved in with her mother and father. But her parents, devoutly religious, disapproved of the new faith she had adopted recently. They even took away the book whose teachings about God had led to her healing of a chronic illness through relying solely on His power. The book was Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
It could seem the mother of those four children had reason to be bitter, but she came to be known for her sweetness and quiet strength. She found a way to keep on reading that book, too. By the time I knew her, this woman, my grandmother, loved to tell how the Bible and Science and Health, with their message of Christian healing, had helped her and others.
One of her most precious stories was about a time when her by-then-octogenarian mother was staying with her for a visit. My grandmother was headed out the door to her branch Church of Christ, Scientist, when my great-grandmother called her back. Great-grandmother, who was still steadfast in her childhood religious affiliation, took my grandmother's hand and put some money into it. ``Give this to your church,'' she said. This showed that her antagonism toward Christian Science had been healed, and Grandmother felt sure that this was because her mother had seen how Science had helped her family, and also because Grandmother had not let bitterness sour her feelings toward her mother.
No pollution seems more poisonous than the bitterness of heart that comes from feeling one has received an undeserved dose of gall. Even if we try to gain some consolation in a mistaken view of God as an avenging deity, that does not neutralize sourness in our heart. Grandmother had found that the book Science and Health doesn't let its readers seek such empty and misguided solace. In unlocking the Scriptural teachings of God as Love, Science and Health shows divine Love to be the very Principle of our lives. The activity of this Principle enables us to forgive and to love even those whose actions appear to have cursed us. And this in turn helps us experience peace and progress in all areas of our lives.
Of course, it's one thing to say we should love our enemies-- including those who may be in our own families. It's another to do it--actually to follow the apostle's call as recorded in Ephesians, ``Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you'' (4:31, 32).
Resistance to loving when we most need to love can feel like the great stone at the door of the cave where Christ Jesus was buried after his crucifixion. What will roll it away? ``Glory be to God, and peace to the struggling hearts! Christ hath rolled away the stone from the door of human hope and faith, and through the revelation and demonstration of life in God, hath elevated them to possible at-one-ment with the spiritual idea of man and his divine Principle, Love,'' exclaims Mrs. Eddy in a chapter of Science and Health that explores the far-reaching meaning of the resurrection (p. 45).
The ever-present Christ, the true idea of divine Love, ceaselessly speaks to human thought, urging us to see that we are not truly mortals buried in hate or trapped by bitter experience. Christ reveals to us that we are actually Love's own offspring and that our purpose, our nature, is to love. Our humble yielding to Love, as the only Principle and cause, opens us up; we let bitterness be put away. We let Love be, in our lives, the governing power it truly is.
Christians find in Jesus' resurrection evidence of the power of divine Love to save--from bitterness and all evil. This infinite Love also removes the supposed ability of hatred and wrongdoing to leave a mark on our innocence. Putting away bitterness, through letting Love work, exposes evil's powerlessness and reveals that we truly are God's sons and daughters--full of sweetness and strength.