Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

Love is the Liberator   Leave a comment

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“A few immortal sentences, breathing the omnipotence of divine justice, have been potent to break despotic fetters and abolish the whipping-post and slave market; but oppression neither went down in blood, nor did the breath of freedom come from the cannon’s mouth. Love is the liberator”.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p225) by Mary Baker Eddy

All Perfect Gifts are from God   Leave a comment

by Yvonne Prinsloo

At Christmastime I love to recall a Bible verse that is close to my heart: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

These words so beautifully express what I’ve learned from Christian Science about the Christly spirit of giving and receiving. When a gift is inspired by unselfish love that stems from an understanding that God is the true source of all good, it brings joy to both the giver and the receiver. 

But not every gift is a good one with pure motives behind it. Sometimes gifts are used as a means of controlling others, and they bring to the receiver not joy but a sense of oppression. 

Before my marriage, I found that my mother-in-law-to-be had a tendency to dominate, and I often sensed there were strings attached to the gifts she gave. For instance, my future in-laws told me that, as a wedding gift, they would like to furnish the one-bedroom flat my husband and I would be moving into. They made a date to join us at the shops to choose the furniture. 

On the surface this seemed to be a generous gift, but instead of feeling grateful, I felt imposed upon. I had been looking forward to furnishing our first home, and I worried that our freedom of expression would be encroached upon. Fear crept in as I thought of how different my mother-in-law’s taste was from mine. She always chose items that were elaborate and pretty, while I preferred things that were plain and tailored.

Yearning to find peace from the turmoil I was in, I turned to God with all my heart. What came to mind was the thought of two trees, an oak and a willow. Because the oak tree has only oak leaves growing on it, and the willow tree only willow leaves, it would be impossible to find even one willow leaf growing on an oak tree or one oak leaf growing on a willow. There is a law that maintains the individuality of each tree.

That made me think of a statement in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “The divine Mind maintains all identities, from a blade of grass to a star, as distinct and eternal” (p. 70). 

This calmed my fear. Just as I was certain that trees are individual and distinct, I could trust that God gives His children identities that are individual and distinct. This meant that my mother-in-law and I could not impose on one another’s identity. I realized with joy that our individual expression of God’s qualities is governed by divine Mind and is always safe from interference.

The next day we set out to buy the wedding present. I felt such peace, knowing that God was in control of everything and was maintaining the individuality of each of us. As we looked around the shops, I fell in love with a lounge suite—and to my joy, my mother-in-law liked it as well. We all did! Receiving the gift ended up being a happy experience. 

But soon, I again found myself harboring feelings of indignation at further offerings of gifts from my mother-in-law. They felt like an intrusion in my life and an attempt at control. 

Then one day I read this instruction in Mrs. Eddy’s Message to The Mother Church for 1902: “The Christian Scientist cherishes no resentment; he knows that that would harm him more than all the malice of his foes” (p. 19). 

I had to admit that cherishing resentment was exactly what I was doing, and it was only making things worse. I realized that to find my freedom, I had to let go of this negative attitude. But how? 

Again I turned to God for an answer. I thought about the perfection of God’s creation as described in the first chapter of the Bible, which tells us, “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Since there is nothing “very good” in being a victim or feeling annoyed, I had to conclude that this attitude did not truly belong to me as God’s child, and I prayed to be free of it. I also saw that God did not make an overbearing person, so I needed to correct my view of my mother-in-law and see her as God’s child, too.

I began to watch my thoughts and actions to make sure I wasn’t trying to manipulate or control others myself. For example, I decided to take each of my three little boys shopping individually when they needed new clothes, and let them choose their own outfits rather than me choosing for them. It was a wonderful experience, as each child picked clothes that suited his individuality. How happy and free we all felt! And how blessed I felt being led and governed by God.

My freedom from resentment toward my mother-in-law came one day when she arrived at our home to celebrate Christmas with us. I started to feel overwhelmed as the gifts being unloaded from the car never seemed to stop coming. They filled the fridges, the shelves, and the cake tins, and it wasn’t long before all my good intentions to watch my thoughts fell by the wayside. Again, I felt imposed upon. 

With a deep desire to be free from the feeling of oppression, I reached out to God for inspiration. Quick as a flash, a question came to me: “What is your mother-in-law’s motive for bringing you all these gifts?” 

Instead of attributing a selfish, controlling motive to her, I reasoned that as the spiritual expression of God, she could be motivated only by love. God was supplying every good thing to her, including right purpose and activity. Therefore, her gifts could bring only blessings. And I certainly did see that she loved us all and loved giving.

At that point, I recognized that these gifts she’d brought would free me from a lot of extra work and enable me to enjoy the holiday with the family. I felt humbled. All resentment faded and was replaced with love and gratitude. What a happy Christmas we celebrated together, just filled with love and joy!

However, there was another lesson I still had to learn. Eventually, instead of buying me gifts, my mother-in-law began giving me money to spend on a present for myself—but she would put a qualification on the gift. “You must buy something that you will remember me by,” she would say.

“Why can’t I buy something without a condition attached to it?” I thought. As I again prayed to find the truth that would free me, I gave deeper consideration to James 1:17: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”

Then I saw my mistake. I had been personalizing gifts—seeing them as things coming from a person. But now I saw that in reality, gifts are not material but spiritual—such as love, joy, peace, harmony—and that the true source of these gifts is God. Since God is good, His gifts could not include one iota of that which is not good, and they could bring with them “no variableness” nor “shadow of turning.” 

With deep gratitude, I understood that my mother-in-law could reflect only Love’s impartial goodness, which supplies all our needs. I felt so released from the false belief that I was reliant on a person rather than divine Principle for what I needed. 

The next Christmas, I took my mother-in-law Christmas shopping, and you will not be surprised to hear that we had a lovely day together, filled with happiness and companionship. As we walked past a carpet auction, I noticed a lovely carpet being auctioned. 

“Isn’t that beautiful!” I remarked. 

“Let’s just watch here for a bit” was her response. 

The next thing I heard was “Gone to the lady at the back!” My mother-in-law had bought me something that I loved. Later she told me it would not have been her first choice, but she was happy that I liked it. Truly, it was God’s gift, and I felt nothing but joy at receiving it.

Now I am a mother-in-law, and I have found freedom when giving gifts by knowing that my husband and I are not the source of supply, the source of good. “All perfect gifts are from above,” as a hymn by L. L. Randall says (Christian Science Hymnal, No. 342). 

How comforting it is to know that the one who gives is not personally responsible for another’s good, nor can the one who gives be depleted as a result of giving. Since all true gifts are from God’s abundant goodness, they bless both the giver and the receiver. And nothing can stop us from receiving what is rightfully ours as the children of God.

Click here to listen to this article or to read it directly from the December 14, 2020 Christian Science Sentinel.

Thoughts on Peace   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_12416220Peace – Readings from the Bible and the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:  But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.  (Bible – Matthew 5:  38, 39)

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth GodHe that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (Bible – I John 4: 7, 8)

Every Wednesday at 6.00 pm a Testimony Meeting is held at the Christian Science Church in Canberra.  Each meeting begins with readings selected from the two books designated as the Pastor of Christian Science:  The Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  A new topic for the readings is selected each week.

At the conclusion of the short readings the congregation is invited to share thoughts on this topic and relate how they have used the principles of Christian Science to solve life’s problems and bring physical healing.

If you are in Canberra on any Wednesday please join us. Everyone is welcome.

This recording represents the readings on the topic:  Peace

Can We Heal the Culture of Violence?   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_6602712 - CopyThe issue of violence is prominent in our community conversations at the moment. Terrorism, drug-related violence, domestic and institutional abuse, and even road rage are insistently crying out for our attention and solutions.

Despite serious efforts over many years to prevent violence, to deal with its effects and to punish the perpetrators, there’s now general agreement that violence will continue to escalate and to propagate fear in the community until we find and treat the real causes.

Fundamental beliefs that underlie and perpetuate all kinds of violence are: that humans have an animal nature prone to competition, self-preservation and aggression; that certain brain-based dysfunctions may be the root of addiction and violence, aggravated by abuse or neglect during childhood; and that there are deeply rooted social and cultural patterns, leading to a distorted sense of manhood and womanhood, that may take generations to change.

However, there’s evidence that these beliefs may be just that …. either long-held or fairly recent beliefs that need to be revised.

Drugs and alcohol are often associated with violence. People working in the police and community services speak of how addiction and abuse reoccur from generation to generation, and there is now general realisation that special attention needs to be given to the families involved.

However, there is some progress as communities work together to fight apathy and educate each other that this cycle can indeed be broken.

A retired commanding officer in the police force shared one such approach: “…anytime I knew I was going to a call related to domestic conflict or violence I would pick up the local pastor.” Often they were able to provide a spiritual viewpoint and connection that would later solve the problem.

It is often acknowledged that recognising a man’s spiritual nature has a healing effect.

Significant psychological research studies find that spirituality is not only helpful to, but integral to mental health. This is an important point in considering individual and whole-society wellbeing.

We may need to adjust our thinking about our real nature.

Another long-held false belief will be overturned by realising that the spiritual qualities generally attributed to women – such as care for others, gentleness, forgiveness and patience – and those qualities attributed to men – such as wisdom, truthfulness, tenaciousness and strength – are innate in both men and women.

Jesus’ ability to express both the fatherhood and motherhood of the divine set the benchmark for us. And like him, we’re actually “tuned in” to hear spiritual intuitions that will prompt, direct and uplift thought, although we may choose not to listen.

Knowing that no-one can be excluded from hearing and acting on divine thoughts can help to overcome violent impulses and begin to heal the culture of violence.

A pioneer in investigating the effects of our thoughts on our health, Mary Baker Eddy, recognised this voice as the ever-appearing of “the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)

When Susannah (not her real name) moved out of home and obtained a copy of that book, she just loved the way the author described the divine power that governs the universe as Father-Mother.

Her family had suffered violence at the hand of her father for many years. To think her father could be capable of reflecting the gentle motherhood of God seemed absolutely impossible. However, she decided to stop wrestling with this idea and worked hard to try to see him as reflecting this tender divine nature; learning that he was meant to be nurturing, gentle, tender.

Susannah was listening for the divine message, which replaced the macho view of her father and other men, with this new view of men. Her thought and experiences gradually began to change.

As the weeks went by, she learned that her parents had not had a fight in months and her father was treating her mother and sister with new tenderness. Eight years on, this is still the case.

A scientific approach to thought and prayer in this way does not whitewash evil deeds; rather it exposes the mistaken beliefs and causes them to be discarded.

Further changes in thinking about her own spiritual nature, meant that Susannah no longer saw herself or her mother as survivors of mental, verbal or physical intimidation, but as well-adjusted and balanced individuals.

She had no lingering emotional scars, but had learned truly to love and see the undamageable good in herself and her mother.

As Australian of the Year and domestic violence survivor, Rosie Batty, advocates, Susannah truly took responsibility for her own life, bringing vital change to those around her in the process.

Such approaches hint at the possibilities for healing the culture of violence in ourselves and in the community.

This article was contributed by Kay Stroud, of Queensland.  Kay writes on the connection between spirituality and health.  This article has been published on 40 APN news sites, including: Sunshine Coast Daily, Toowoomba Chronicle, Lismore Northern Star, Rockhampton Morning Bulletin, Mackay Daily Mercury,Tweed Daily News, Bundaberg News Mail, Coffs Coast Advocate, Grafton Daily Examiner,Gladstone Observer, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Gympie Times, Caboolture News, Stanthorpe Border Post

Love – The Fulfilling of the Law   Leave a comment

$ dreamstime_209356Love – the Fulfilling of the Law – Readings from the Bible and the textbook of Christian Science, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.

Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way.  Right motives give pinions to thought, and strength and freedom to speech and action.

(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy p454)

Every Wednesday at 6.00 pm a Testimony Meeting is held at the Christian Science Church in Canberra. Each meeting begins with readings selected from the two books designated as the Pastor of Christian Science: The Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy.  A new topic for the readings is selected each week.

At the conclusion of the short readings the congregation is invited to share thoughts on this topic and relate how they have used the principles of Christian Science to solve life’s problems and bring physical healing.

If you are in Canberra on any Wednesday please join us. Everyone is welcome.

This recording represents the readings on the topic: Love – the Fulfilling of the Law.

Help to heal our world; conquer fanaticism   1 comment

shutterstock_111413969What I most love about my country is our general lack of fanaticism – a startling contrast to recent high-profile instances of it here and elsewhere. I started thinking about this subject before the terrorism events in Paris, but those events have made dealing with fanatical thinking seem even more imperative.

A fanatic expresses excessive, irrational zeal. Far from taking an intelligent and well-informed stance on an issue, their passion and manic obsession with a cause or way of doing things colour their decision-making ability negatively.

Fanaticism about a political or religious philosophy that makes us feel superior; holding obsessively to a non-proven hypothesis; belief that there is only one way to play football and there’s a single worthy team; prejudice about what foods we should eat and the best way to cultivate them; or uncompromising belief that we only need to attend to the physical body to be healthy, are all too common habits that lead us down a slippery slope of intolerance. Fanatical beliefs are nearly always built on fear.

A red flag should go up if we find ourselves extremely sensitive about our viewpoint or hating anyone who opposes it.

Alternatively, common sense based on a positive stance, sure of a solution becoming apparent that will be good for everyone, is a better viewpoint. This demeanour is not just a good-old Aussie “she’ll be right” attitude, but grows out of a well-informed and caring approach to the world.

This is a spiritual approach that begins with ourselves – that is, feeling and accepting the love that comes from our divine source. It’s so much easier to love, when we’re feeling loved.

What will help the world through this current fermentation is our individual commitment to choosing love and understanding over hate and apathy.

I find it’s useful to ask myself: could I be a little more thoughtful and kinder with my comments? I’d have to confess that the answer is usually, “well, maybe.”

Try this scenario. If you could go back in time, would you choose to continually belittle our ancestors’ beliefs about a flat earth? Wouldn’t you instead gently nurture and point out bridges of understanding to help them comprehend the reality?

American Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, president of the Minaret of Freedom Institute was interviewed about possible motives for the killings at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Married to a Christian, Mr Ahmad holds a unique perspective on cross-cultural understanding (or misunderstandings) between Muslims and non-Muslims. He pointed out, “…it is one thing to make a joke about a rich man or a powerful man who slips and falls. It is something entirely different and not funny to make a joke about your poor old grandmother slipping and falling. To the Muslim people, jokes and cartoons about the faith of an oppressed people are not funny. They hurt.”

We all know how humiliation hurts, and most of us at some time have been down the road of wanting to lash out at a perceived enemy.

So, if we can empathise, we can forgive and work towards healing our world.

Academics and experienced change-managers in the field of terrorism psychology are stepping forward this week to share with the world some common patterns for success in de-radicalising regimes and terrorists. (http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2012/0525/Are-terrorists-beyond-redemption)

Surprisingly, these don’t include retribution but active, solution-based change-management, such as recognizing the needs of jihadists; finding them vocational education, jobs and even wives; and, recognizing the importance of their social network (http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2014/11/05/the-3-step-guide-to-de-radicalizing-jihadists/)

Whether or not you have a direct hand in these compassionate measures, you can begin to make a difference in the health of our wonderfully promising world by de-radicalising your own thinking.

Utilise this good advice to start the healing movement within your own circle:
•  “Hate no one; for hatred is a plague-spot that spreads its virus and kills at last…
•  If you have been badly wronged, forgive and forget…
•  Never return evil for evil;
•  and, above all, do not fancy that you have been wronged when you have not been.” (Mary Baker Eddy)

None of us have all the answers to the world’s problems right now, but today you can at least be a law to yourself to give up any fanatical beliefs you may be harbouring. This self-regulating action is also good for your stress levels, heart, immune system and much more.

This article is by Kay Stroud.  Her articles on the link between consciousness, spirituality and health appear regularly in APN print and online publications. For more information on these trends or answers to questions about Christian Science visit www.health4thinkers.com

5 Tips to All Round Better Health   Leave a comment

shutterstock_1257488601. Hope

Hope is the stuff of change, recovery and healing, according to Dr Shane Lopez, author of the new book:  Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. “Hope is half optimism. The other half is the belief in the power that you can make it so”, writes Lopez.

Hopeful people make an investment in the future that pays off in the present: in the way they eat, exercise, conserve energy, take care of themselves and stick to their treatment plan. He suggests that this sort of “change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry”.

It takes work to keep your thinking in tune with what’s good around you. For me, trust that ‘good will win’ lifts me out of the daily grind of thinking that what I see and hear is all there is to us, into a mental realm a bit higher.

2. Show Your Gratitude

Studies show that saying ‘thanks’ reduces stress, and giving back through volunteering is good for your heart, in more ways than one

For example, researchers from the University of British Columbia found that volunteers who felt more empathy and put in more time and effort not only experienced greater mental health but also better cardiovascular health.

Research cited by Dr Stephen Post in his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People also found that giving in high school predicts good physical and mental health in late adulthood; generous behaviour reduces adolescent depression and suicide risk; giving quells anxiety; giving to others helps facilitate self-forgiveness and increases your longevity; giving is so powerful that sometimes even just ‘thinking’ charitable thoughts helps us.

This could be the right moment to volunteer to do Meals on Wheels or tuck shop duty, offer to coach your friend in maths or put up your hand to coach the soccer team …. and give thanks. It could not only help others, but also help you.

3. Love

We need to move past our cultural preconceptions that sometimes equate love only with infatuation, sexual desire or fairytale endings. Love is kindness and compassion.

“Love literally [makes] people healthier”, reported Dr Barbara Fredrickson, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina.

“People tend to liken their emotions [like loving] to the weather, viewing them as uncontrollable,” said Fredrickson. This research shows not only that our emotions are controllable, but also that we can take the reins of our daily emotions and steer ourselves toward better physical health.

Love – moments of warmth, connection and openness sprinkled throughout your day – holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our life.

4. Forgive

It’s one of the hardest things to do, but if you do it will make a big difference to your happiness, your relationships and your health.

For example, researchers from the University of California in San Diego found that people who let go of their anger could decrease the physical effects of stress.

Forgiveness is aptly described as ‘a change of heart’. Iowa doctor, Katherine Hurst MD, says, “I had a patient who went through a rough divorce and it took her years to get over it. She was on antidepressants, blood pressure meds and sleeping pills. When she finally forgave him and forgot about the marriage she was able to go off all of them”.

5. Meditate

Take some time to meditate, or contemplate, each morning, even if only for a few minutes. Studies have shown that prayer, meditation and attendance at religious services all benefit health in ways that scientists cannot fully explain.

“… [meditating] even 5 or 10 minutes, say a couple of times a day can start to produce significant benefits”, affirms Dr Craig Hassad, internationally recognised expert in Mindfulness Meditation, now a resident at Monash University Medical School. And it seems that many can now attest to the health benefits of doing just that.

The inclusion of meditation or prayer as part of our health care is increasingly being recommended by doctors to treat both mental and physical illness. In time, could meditation be seen as ‘the new normal’?

I find that using only one of these fabulous 5 tips brightens my day and makes me feel a whole lot better – renewed and revitalised – which points to the proposition that we’re much more than just a body.

It’s clear that these 5 easy tips are mental change agents that empower us, and make us happier and more fulfilled.

Growing numbers of people are seeing how mental approaches like this also lead to surprisingly better physical and mental health.

This article is by Kay Stroud. Kay is a health writer focussing on the leading edge of consciousness, spirituality and health. Her articles can be found on Health4Thinkers.

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