By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
Over the years my view of Valentine’s Day has dramatically changed. Not because I’ve resigned myself to accept the commercialism associated with it. Rather, because I’ve come to understand more deeply what this day represents.
As a young guy in high school and college my notions of love were very different from what they are today. Back then, my concept of love was dependent upon another person, mainly a girlfriend, or the desire to have a girlfriend. My self-esteem was dependent upon how girls treated me, and viewed my “coolness.” Many aspects of that period of my life were pretty painful, and commercial images of what love is didn’t help. I really didn’t understand the nature of love.
In moments of despair and loneliness I would turn to my Bible, given to me when I went to Sunday School in a different church. It’s the Revised Standard Version. Inside the back cover I’d taped a list of topics with a corresponding list of citations that address each one. The topics I marked on my list are: “discouraged”, “everything seems to be going from bad to worse”, “things look ‘blue’”, “you can’t go to sleep”, “need forgiveness”, “are lonely or fearful”, and “want to know the way of prayer”.
That was a long time ago and I don’t remember a lot about my specific thoughts then. That little list in the back of my Bible, however, gives me some insight as to what was occupying me at the time. In retrospect, I’m glad that I turned to the Bible to find comfort and answers.
Maybe that was what prepared me to find a way of looking at life that changed my whole outlook. It was in college that, through a period of reflection and study, I discovered Christian Science. I realized that this religion contained the answers to many of my questions and doubts about myself. One thing that really stood out was that Mary Baker Eddy, the discover of Christian Science, defined Love as another term for God. The implications were profound for me.
The idea that Love is another name for God took the concept completely out of the realm of a human, personal emotion. I could see that what I’d been looking for in relationships was an emotional human attachment, vulnerable to hurt feelings, differing expectations, misunderstandings, and unhealthy physical attraction. I began to see that love was always given to me unconditionally by a loving God that cared very deeply for me no matter how “cool” I was or wasn’t.
What was most healing about this discovery was how it came into play in my life. I’ve heard criticisms of Christian Science that it’s cold and heartless. Those who don’t understand it sometimes accuse Christian Scientists of not caring about human pain and suffering–that Christian Scientists simply ignore the reality around them. That their concept of love is just a cerebral exercise like meditation.
My experience has been quite the opposite. What I found is that the more I prayed to know God better and to accept His love for me, the more I was able to love others for the good qualities they expressed, and to accept love from others. This love isn’t dependent on romance or physical attraction. Rather, it’s seeing God being expressed in others and myself, and thus God as Love being present among us, and expressed by us.
As I was learning about the true nature of Love as God, I feel that my relationships with other people, both men and women, began to take on a more gratifying nature. One of those people was someone who shared this same point of view as I did. She is now my wife. For over 37 years we’ve continued to grow together in our understanding of Love as the nature of God, and this understanding has enriched our relationship beyond my greatest hopes.
Without Christian Science, I might have never come to this richer understanding of love. It’s brought to light the eternal, permanent, and completely satisfying nature of Love that is God always present in my life. On Valentine’s Day, that’s the Love I’ll be celebrating, and its expression in my wonderful marriage.