Home

No regrets

January 8, 2017

Especially at the start of a new year, the tendency can be to look back and feel bad about something that happened – or didn’t happen; something you wished you’d said or done, or perhaps wished you hadn’t said or done.  It’s natural to review one’s decisions and circumstances for the purpose of making them better.  Dwelling on them, however, tends to impede progress.

A desire for improvement can certainly be fueled by not wanting to make the same mistakes, and an examination of “what went wrong” is useful if its purpose is to bring about a better future.  Wishful or wistful thinking and regret, however, often tend to have the opposite effect: keeping one unproductively stuck in the past.

A good example is of Christ Jesus following the resurrection.  He appropriately chastised his disciples for being afraid and doubting what he had told them. But he didn’t rebuke them for not saving his life.  Instead, he encouraged them to come out from hiding and share the good news of life eternal – news he had equipped them to tell. (See Mark 16)

While our own missed opportunities may not be so dramatic, they certainly can be as consuming as they were for the disciples before Jesus opened their eyes to the wonderful possibilities the future held.  And it’s likely that we may have some wrongs to right somewhere in our past.  But the best way to do it is to look forward and upward.

The author of Hebrews writes “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…”  (12:1)  In other words, we all have things that would distract or even waylay us, but instead of giving in to them, let us be ready to tackle what lies ahead, knowing that we are capable and willing.  This certainly doesn’t mean we should ignore unresolved difficulties.  But it does mean that we should face them with the expectancy of healing, and hope for a brighter tomorrow.

Jesus never told any of his followers, “sorry, you’re just stuck with it until you get to heaven.”  What he did say was, “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 3:2).  We can expect that our regrets and sorrows, our shames and unfinished business can be made right, right here because the remedy is at hand.  That holier viewpoint of our past is a guarantee that whatever appears to hold us back or down will dissolve as it comes in contact with the light of Christ.

This sweet and tender assurance of hope and health and harmony is the natural consequence of knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God…”  (Rom 8:28)  And though it seems that loving God may be a caveat for this progressive outcome, the fact is, loving God is what you and I are designed to do.  Acknowledging it, giving it more attention than our unhappy past, simply reveals the goodness of the kingdom of heaven that’s already at work on our behalf.

And that’s a pretty good reason for no regrets.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Life goes on.

December 17, 2016

Even though the temperature is 26 degrees, the hummingbirds are coming in twos and threes to the feeder outside my window.  Even though the pond is covered in ice, the red wing blackbirds are eating the cattails that ring its edge. Even though there are 4 inches of snow on the ground, the deer are pawing through it and finding tender shoots beneath.  On the surface, it appears that life has stopped, frozen in its tracks.  But a closer look reveals that life goes on.

Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)  This is not just some future reality; a closer look reveals that this is now and here.

Even though the days are short and darkness dominates, even though the cold brings everything to a standstill, this really is the season of life and of light. The advent of the eternal Christ, made plain in the birth of Jesus, is the assurance of eternal life.  A closer look is required, but it reveals that the promise of light and life is kept.  The yearned for renewal is tenderly revealed, even in the dark and cold.

In a much loved poem, author and theologian Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Life is light, and wisdom might, and God is All.”  (Poems, pg.79)  That Life-light reveals how close, how present are hope and happiness.

Look around.  Look closely.  Don’t let circumstances dictate what you know. Let the light of Life tell you.  It will reveal, Life goes on.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Love alone is Life

December 7, 2016

That’s a phrase from a poem by Mary Baker Eddy.  (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 387) It’s not only a powerful statement about God, who is both Love and Life, but about existence – life itself – that is most effective and useful when it’s powered by love.

Love makes the best relationships.  It satisfies the most needs.  It redeems even the most awful conditions.  And it lifts its giver and receiver high above fear and hate and loss.  Not just when the sun shines, but in all kinds of weather.

The life that is filled with love is happy and safe and progressive.  And it is also the most necessary kind of life.

Live in love.  Let every moment of your life be love expressed.

The final phrase of that poem mentioned above says that life most sweet, as heart to heart speaks kindly when we meet and part.

That’s the kind of love worth living.  That’s the kind of life worth loving.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

That is my prayer every day.  It’s not to find more reasons to love, but more occasions to love.  And without condition. I’ll admit I’m not always successful. Still, making the effort keeps me pointed in the right direction.

Jesus said that anyone can love those that love them – that’s easy.  (Luke 6:32) But he asked us to love everyone.  And that would be how others would know we were his followers – because of our willingness and followthrough on loving all.  (John 13:35)

The Master saw his fellow man as beloved and necessary parts of God’s creation.  They weren’t good and bad, deserving and unworthy, keepers and tossers.  Instead, Jesus understood that all, every man, woman, and child, were created in his heavenly Father’s image and likeness, in the likeness of divine Love.  It was this understanding that enabled him to heal the sick, cast out sin, and raise the dead.

Looking for more opportunities to love – especially those who are different than us, or who disagree with us – ultimately opens the door to finding things that we have in common.  And there are so many when we take the time to look for them.  And that’s the point.

Is it easy?  No.  My prayer often includes asking for help in doing it: help to be willing, help to be consistent, help to be sincere, and to be effective.  Because love at its most effective is selfless.  That kind of love blesses all without regard to circumstances or participants.

Mary Baker Eddy wrote a wonderful treatise on love (Miscellaneous Writings, page 249).  I’ve excerpted a part here: “Love is not something put upon a shelf, to be taken down on rare occasions with sugar-tongs and laid on a rose-leaf. I make strong demands on love, call for active witnesses to prove it, and noble sacrifices and grand achievements as its results. Unless these appear, I cast aside the word as a sham and counterfeit, having no ring of the true metal. Love cannot be a mere abstraction, or goodness without activity and power. As a human quality, the glorious significance of affection is more than words: it is the tender, unselfish deed done in secret; the silent, ceaseless prayer; the self-forgetful heart that overflows; the veiled form stealing on an errand of mercy, out of a side door; the little feet tripping along the sidewalk; the gentle hand opening the door that turns toward want and woe, sickness and sorrow, and thus lighting the dark places of earth.”

May your day be filled with giving – and receiving – love in all directions.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

You may recognize that as a line from the old hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers by S. Baring-Gould.  It’s not sung much anymore but that sentiment is still valid.  Especially today.  Especially every day.  Because every day, we live side by side.

As the same hymn also says, we are “one in charity.”

That’s the assignment for all of us today: to be united in finding a way to be charitable towards one another, to extend courtesy, to give grace.  Regardless of who won the election, regardless of the color of your skin or the neighborhood you live in, regardless of the church you go to or don’t go to, regardless of your education or your income, let us remember that we’re all neighbors and that united we stand.

Show your charity today, show your kindness today.  Don’t let today be about the election, but let it be about neighborliness.  Let it be about compassion. Let it be about the fact that administrations come and go, but we will always be one.

I don’t care about who you voted for.  I care about you.  Today and every day.

Join me.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

At breakfast recently, a couple came and sat at the table next to ours.  They reviewed their menus, placed their order, and then the husband picked up his smartphone while his wife sat patiently watching him.  After a few minutes she gently tapped him on the arm and said, “don’t forget that I’m here.”  He looked up sheepishly, put the phone down, squeezed her hand, and they proceeded to chat happily about their plans for the day.

This is not a post about smartphones.

This is a post about God.

So often we get so involved in the details of our lives: our problems, our needs, our issues, our agendas, our aches and pains, and yes, our social media, that we forget that God is right here, right with us, ready to help.  We work so hard to try to figure it out ourselves, to fix it ourselves.  Yet divine Love, another name for God, has the perfect solution right at hand.

Worry, anxiety, stress – all names for fear – dissolve when we turn our troubles over to God.  Doing so makes even the good times more free, more happy.

Prayer that starts by affirming God’s ever present Love lifts troubled thought above the dismay.  There, new possibilities for solutions and progress present themselves naturally as inspired ideas, spiritual nudges, and healing.  Your receptivity is guaranteed when you refuse to be bullied by concern.

Personal issues, like your health, finances, or relationships, or more global issues, like politics, climate, or terrorism, all respond positively when you see them through Love’s eyes.  God has the broadest view possible of His beloved creation, and He sees only good, as the first chapter of Genesis explains in verse 31 (God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good).  When we take on this higher and holier view as our own – seeing God’s creation as entirely good – fear’s grasp upon us is loosened.  Conditions which seemed dire are transformed and healing occurs.

Jesus restored health and life to countless individuals in just this way.  Many of those instances are recorded in the Gospels.  When he turned to his heavenly Father in full trust, and full acknowledgement of God’s loving omnipotence, sin, sickness, and even death simply disappeared.  He explained, “I can of mine own self do nothing…because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”  (John 5:30)  He knew that it was always God’s will to do good.

This same understanding of the ever ready power and influence of God is available today.  All we have to do is look up from our problems into the saving truth of divine Love.  There, we are shielded from harm, saved from sin, healed of sickness, and moved forward into joy and satisfaction.

That’s actually a pretty good description of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus said is right here (Matt 10:7)  Which means that we don’t have to wait for all those blessings, we just have to see them more clearly than we see fear. Fear can’t change or diminish good, but it does seem to hide it when we’re preoccupied by it.  But God is always reminding us, “don’t forget that I’m here.”

Don’t forget that Love is here.

Don’t forget that good is here.

You don’t have to be afraid.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.

Are you dismayed?

August 7, 2016

It seems as though there are so many disconcerting things going on in the world today: terrible violence; political negativity; famine; fire; fear.  And we may feel helpless to do anything about it, let alone make a contribution to any kind of improvement.

But there is something you can do.

If the situation seems hopeless, then bring to bear what you know about hope.

If you’re feeling helpless, then look for someone to be helpful to.

If the conditions are frightening, then introduce love into the mix.

If all seems lost, then share the good that you have found.

If you are only hearing lies, then tell the truth.

Does all of this seem counter-intuitive?  Jesus didn’t think so.  He fed the hungry, healed the sick, and raised the dead.  No situation was too far gone.  Not even his own crucifixion.  He overcame that too.  He told his followers (including us): “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”  (John 16:33)  And this, he said, is why he could: “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”  (Matt 19:26)

We can remember that when it seems as though the human circumstances are overwhelming and the human solutions too feeble.  Our own resources may be limited or exhausted; our strength diminished or gone.  But God is infinite good, infinite help, infinite hope.  God’s power doesn’t yield to evil or fear or lack or even death.

Jesus promised that “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do.”  In other words, if Jesus could overcome all of those issues by trusting God, then so can we as we take to heart his teachings; not through human strength but by relying wholly on the divine.

There is something you can do.

This beloved hymn (361 from the Christian Science Hymnal) has a wonderful promise:

Trust all to God, the Father,
Confide thou in none other,
He is thy sole defense;
He cares for thee past measure,
Seek Him who has thy treasure,
Thy helper is omnipotence.

Melissa Hayden is a Christian Science practitioner in Salem, OR. You can find more information and additional articles at this link.  If you like what you’re reading, click the “add me” button.