An ideal husband
by Ginny Luedeman
Reprinted from the September 2005 issue of The Christian Science Journal.
If I had my way, my husband would always put the cereal away, take his shoes off when he came into the house, ask directions, and say, “I’m sorry” with ease.
But this is not the case. Even after 36 years of marriage, Craig and I are still working on the little things. And I know we’re not the only ones.
Interpersonal relationships offer plenty of opportunities to let go of your own opinions about how other people should be doing things. Whether it’s a spouse’s domestic habits, a child’s life choices or the way a fellow church member ran the last business meeting, it can often be tempting to feel that everything would be great if people just accepted your wonderfully helpful advice.
Paradoxically, though, I’ve found that this approach can actually impede the very progress you’re hoping to promote. How? By keeping your thoughts stuck in the realm of the human, which is the opposite of how healing happens. As long as we perceive others as flawed mortals whose behavior doesn’t measure up to our own standards, we’re not seeing them the way God sees them. Yet it’s this divine viewpoint that heals.
Jesus was not critical of sinners; he healed them.
Take this stark example of individuals with contrasting approaches: Jesus, the most exalted man who’s ever walked the earth, surrounded by people considered to be sinners, people whose behavior fell far short of what social and religious codes dictated. Yet the Bible doesn’t record a critical word crossing Jesus’ lips during his encounters with these people. Instead, he healed them.
And he did that not by focusing on any human characteristics that needed to change, or even by offering helpful suggestions on how they might improve themselves, but through love. Through how he perceived them—as already perfect.
As Mary Baker Eddy explained it: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God’s own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick.”
The key to healing is changing your thinking.
Jesus proved that the key to healing any difficulty—including a disagreement about how someone is doing something—is changing your own thinking. Sometimes this opens the way for an individual’s behavior to change. But more often than not, I’ve found it changes me.
It changes my own opinionatedness, willfulness and self-justification into humility and love. And sometimes—often, even—that’s all that’s necessary. The problem becomes a nonissue and I’m freed to be the supportive friend, wife, committee member I want to be. The relationship is strengthened, too.
A recent scene from my marriage comes to mind. It might seem small, but it illustrates the power of changing one’s view of another person from the material to the spiritual. My husband and I were having our usual morning conversation, discussing our schedules for the day. Even though I prefer speaking face to face, Craig stood behind my place on the sofa with his back to me, munching cereal while we talked.
I found myself fighting back feelings of hurt, anger and insult. I was taught to speak to people eye to eye—especially about important matters. But Craig had a very different upbringing. In his family, you could talk to someone from across the room while you were engaged in another activity and no one’s feelings would be hurt.
Still, I thought, there is a chair right in front of me—and he has time—so he should be sitting there looking at me instead of standing behind me. How rude is that?
Finally, I choked back the hurt and sharply asked him to face me while we talked. He kindly came over and we worked things out, but I was left feeling uneasy about my attitude.
My opinion of right and wrong led me to judge him.
Once again, I realized, my disappointment in another individual had come from my own opinion of what was right or wrong or how I thought a particular situation should play out. Instead of focusing on what’s good about my husband—on the qualities that spring from his deeper, spiritual nature—I had judged him, and then felt trapped by my own self-righteousness. The joy that usually defines our marriage was momentarily lost.
The way I see it, my day is full of opportunities to decide if I’m going to build up or tear down my husband, support him or criticize him. When I walk into the kitchen and find the cereal box on the counter, I can think, My husband doesn’t think about me and the fact that I’m trying my hardest to keep this home clean.
Or, instead, I can be grateful for the many spiritual, God-given qualities he expresses—like order when he mows the lawn, or loving care when he collects firewood, or kindness when he rubs my feet. If I choose the latter, that loving support will help him in a way that condemnation never will.
True compassion is the recognition that we all have much to learn about expressing God’s goodness and that, in the process, we need to be patient with each other. Kindness judges “righteous judgment” and loves from a spiritual standpoint. It supports the good in another, and, in the light of that kindness, our loved ones will see more clearly if there’s a need to change, and they’ll do it with joy.
Any insistence on our part that we have to be the one to show them the light means we don’t believe they have access to the divine inspiration that we do—that we need to be an intermediary between that individual and God. But that’s simply not true.
The divine Parent imparts joy and intelligence to all His children.
In reality, we all have equal access to God and His spiritual qualities. We’re all made in His image, with His unlimited goodness to express. The same divine Parent is continuously imparting unlimited joy, gentleness, intelligence, beauty and so on, to each of His children.
I find I get a lot further with my relationships when I spend my time acknowledging that everyone can hear God, rather than trying to interpret the voice of God for them. And when I acknowledge that the very Love that is God is the true and only source of my husband, and of others, then I’m honoring everyone’s spiritual identity.
Craig and I have loved discovering what’s good and God-given in each other. So our discussion that morning turned into another opportunity to look deeper and discover more of our spiritual nature. When I saw Craig later that day, I apologized for my reaction and expressed my gratitude for all that he does and is. And what do you know—he said he would try harder to be more connected when we talk in the future.
By then, though, that was no longer the point. Because I saw once again that, ultimately, it’s the spiritual lessons we learn about our spiritual nature that make the biggest difference in our interactions with one another.
Resolving to see that “perfect man” of God’s
creating brings whatever healing a relationship needs. And frees us
all to be who we really are—and to help each other grow.
A clear spiritual view:
Science and Health:
King James Bible:
Copyright (c) 2004 The Christian Science Publishing Society. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission.
Copyright ï¿½ 2004 ginnyl.com. All rights reserved.