Respond with love

August 8, 2023 | 42 comments


Have you ever felt stung by another person’s comments? Perhaps they said something that felt cruel, unwarranted, inappropriate, or offensive?

Often these comments catch us off guard, seem to come out of nowhere, and leave us wondering, “What happened?” We may be left reeling with turbulent emotion on how to respond.

The first place I like to go when this happens is into my prayer chamber to listen for a response that brings healing.

If feeling stung, it helps me to remember that human pride, ego and self-righteousness are what feel stung. The child of God is never stung by evil comments. The child of God is always safe and secure in God’s Love, and no mortal inaccuracy can ever change that. So, rather than rise in self-indignation and react with an offended human ego, I pray to humble any mortal mind influence over my thought and be sure my attitude and response is aligned with healing Love, rather than reacting in defense of self-righteousness.

Reacting with pride and ego adds fuel to the unwanted fire and allows the carnal mind to take control of the situation. As the Bible reminds us, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare” (Proverbs 15:1, NLT).

If we’re looking for a healing outcome, we can master the “sting” of the surprise by staying humble, then discern words of wisdom that respond in a way that masters the situation rather than succumbs to it. We can move the interaction toward a positive outcome that blesses everyone.

For good results, avoid reacting with anger and out of control emotion. Respond with wisdom and love. Master the situation.

42 thoughts on “Respond with love”

  1. This is so important – I am constantly having to try and protect myself from this
    subtlety. which, as Evan says, can take us by surprise. Self-righteousness would immediately
    spring up, and if we are not watchful and react, things can turn very unpleasant and upsetting
    for all. By responding with love, the whole thing will disappear, and peace and love restored.
    So we must never react in anger but respond with love, as Evan rightly recommends.

    I find the following from Miscellaneous Writings called “Taking Offence”.- by Mary Baker Eddy, very helpful to keep in mind:-
    ((I hope I got the link right!)

    1. The link worked perfectly Maggie, and thank you for sending it. Thank you Evan for addressing this topic which unrecognized could lead to relationship division.

    2. Thank you Maggie. This stood out to me from Mrs. Eddy’s thoughts on taking offense,
      “To punish ourselves for others’ faults is superlative folly…..we can hardly afford to be miserable for the faults of others.”

      After seeing we have no need to get upset about the “faults” of others, we can go even higher in thought and impersonalize the error by detaching the so-called fault from the person, who is after all God’s faultless child. Then the faults seemingly expressed by the person, whether meanness, criticism, harshness, judgement, condemnation, whatever, can be destroyed by seeing that those are false qualities God didn’t create.

      It seems hard to see things this way when mortal mind is shouting at us that “we” have been attacked and must defend “ourselves.” .As Evan says, it is only the human ego (which is not us) that can feel stung. We remain “safe and secure in God’s Love.” Our OK-ness is untouched. I’ve been re-reading this helpful article J kindly shared about a week ago,
      “See Evil as Impersonal”

      1. Thank you so much for this article. It’s extremely helpful in praying about world leaders as well as on a personal level. And thank you Evan for this awesome blog with daily inspiration for all and by all!

      2. very nice Rose. Thank you for your many writings and articles you attach . I always love what you write.

        thank you Evan for your daily inspirations.

    3. Hi Just a comment. Have used “Taking Offence” many times. But it is not/not by Mrs Eddy. Author unknown. There is a very article on the background of this by , I think , the MBE Library. To be correct one should write , found in Miscellaneous writings.

      1. Thank you James – I hadn’t realised it wasn’t written by MBE, but it was obviously approved by her as it was included in Misc.Writings. As you say, I should have
        said that it is to be found in Miscellaneous Writings.

  2. Thank you Evan for stirring thought to the contemplation of our real Status:
    Hymn 370: “We are hid with Christ forever In the Father’s holy plan.“
    “Your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:3, 4).
    Christ Jesus: “Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and
    mother” (Mark 3:33–35).

  3. Thank you so much for this Evan. I have to say I found mastering self pity, self righteousness so difficult even though I knew they weren’t my own thoughts and didn’t originate in me, so I prayed for an answer. The answer came…God is love, God is the power of my thought and that of my neighbour. That was it! The battle ended. Divine Love won..”.

  4. I can only echo the positive sentiments of others leaving comments. Thank you, Evan, for dealing with this subject so thoroughly. Your conclusion, “Master the situation,” is perfect and is a reminder to me not to allow myself to ruminate about an unpleasant situation.

  5. Good morning! I’m so grateful that this is our topic for conversation today. I’m in the midst of a seeming raging storm of dangerous accusations, an ongoing nasty criticism from another person. This is a situation has been going on for about five years. However, in the last few weeks, I’ve really turned with all my thought, more bye too Al prayer, to really acknowledging the presence & the power of infinite Love.
    I’ve always loved the citation which Maggie has noted in her post. especially the very ending. Mrs.Eddy instructs us to never take offense, unless it be against God.

    I’ve come to love and repeat, as often as I can, the behavior described in hymn 315:
    Speak gently, it is better far to rule by love than fear; speak gently, let no harsh word mar the good we may do here
    Speak gently to the erring ones, they must have toiled in vain; per chance, unkindness made them so; O win them back again
    Speak gently, ’tis a little thing, dropped in the heart’s deep well; the good, the joy that it may bring,
    Eternity shall tell.
    I’m holding onto the thought that “all is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation”: it is God who is governing the entire spiritual universe, including man, and that they/we are obedient, as Mind’s spiritual ideas, to the Mind that makes them (us.)
    Thank you, Evan, as always

    1. Hi Annie, I related to what you said about a person being very critical towards you for many years. I’ve been working to forgive a relative who has been that way with me starting back in my adolescent years. Recently I mentioned to a friend that I was working to see that I was never actually touched or harmed by that relative’s words or actions. This friend said I was engaging in something called Spiritual Bypass. This is a term from psychology that seems to mean we must go back and feel and experience all the hurt and sadness (especially if it occurred during childhood) caused by the “offender” and fully feel our fear, hatred, anger towards them before we can heal. The “bypass” means we are skipping over releasing the stuck emotions and going to straight to the spiritual thoughts. This friend said we can’t really heal this way. Clearly this is not CS, but it left me a bit confused.

      Would be very helpful to me to hear any thoughts on this from dear SV readers (and Evan too if anything comes to mind). Thanks much.

      1. I agree with you, Rose. As I understand it, a “spiritual bypass” is when we don’t DEAL with the issue at hand, but pass it over superficially with affirmations, whereas Christian Science urges us to handle the problem–deal with it–not bypass it. We can do this by various means, especially, in my view, by realizing the Truth that the abuse never happened in REALITY, although it did seem to happen in our experience. Reality, governed by God, is what counts, and is where we live. Not always easy to demonstrate, but it is the Truth. Hope this helps. Love to you, Demaris

      2. Dear Rose, What comes to me is the statement that I fund helpful in such a situation” “When error speaks, nothing has been said”. This shows me that if God has not said it, it is not that person’s true thought, as all our true thoughts come from God, who is only good and manifests only good in us all. So we can let it go as nothing, it can produce no effect in us unless we let it. Respond with Love, this is the Christianly scientific way. We can thank God that all is well and harmony is the reality. and forgive lovingly.

      3. If we’re thinking of ourselves and others as human beings or morals with personalities and separate egos, maybe it might be negative to a human to bypass hurts etc. But a practitioner said once referring to our spiritual individuality, “There is no yesterday. You were never IN yesterday.” That thought that we were never IN mortal history of yesterday is so liberating and powerful. And neither was the human who supposedly hurt us. They were never IN yesterday either. Because we are not separate minds and egos living in time, separate from the Mind which is Love. We are not persons as there is one Person, God. We’d rather be the infinite image of the infinite God than a limited mortal with a limited and somewhat negative human history. We don’t want to be captive to a human history which regurgitates itself up, and keeps our thoughts remembering sadness and misery. We’re not IN that history. Our spiritual selfhood never was. We’re in the divine now as spiritual identity. There’s an account of some students coming upon Mrs. Eddy in the garden and she asked them if they knew what she was doing? She said to the effect she was mentally ridding herself of her past history. The human mind is wired to solve problems, I read, so it will go around and around the same old problems trying to find an answer. It’s like being stuck in the washing machine cycling around but if it doesn’t get new info (like fresh, clean water) it can never solve the problem. We don’t want our thought to get stuck in mortal sense of things recycling its past. So, we go up to the third degree and denounce mortal identity, and affirm our spiritual likeness which was never IN yesterday. Maybe it helps to denounce every hurtful thing that is bothering us now which an individual said or did and see why the statements or actions weren’t sourced by God, real, eternal, or have power over us. A practitioner said if something is getting our attention now, it’s good to pray about it. Reverse it and affirm the spiritual counterfact. So it’s not bypassing, but denouncing it, as having reality, power, presence or authority over our divine now. And affirming the spiritually good, real and powerful present today. We can ask God what His will is regarding what He wants us to think about, do or rejoice in today. Someone said happy individuals bless others and that happiness isn’t selfish or shallow. Maybe because happiness shows others of the divine possibility for them for joy, too, in their experience.

        1. Dear Lindajane, please see my comment I shared to thank you for your
          comment. It would be too scrunchy to put it here…

        2. Thank you so much Maggie, Demaris and Lindajane for your insightful comments on my question about spiritual bypass. All are very helpful and I will take time to read and ponder them again more deeply and prayerfully. Appreciate you all.

        3. Thank you for this! I love this idea about never being in the past. Mrs.Eddy says we need to “revise and expunge “our past. I have found that when praying sometimes old hurts and memories come bubbling up to consciousness and I believe that is a cue to that we need to do some revising and expunging instead of ignoring them or just ruminating on them. They. Wed to be replaced with the Truth of God’s presence and Love. Then they dissolve into the nothingness they always were.

      4. I have this to share based on an experience of a family member. She has been seeing different psychiatrists/psychologists/therapists for years based on a past traumatic events. I’m sure she has relived these events many times in her sessions, but unfortunately it has only made her feel more angry and bitter and has not resolved any issues for her to move forward. I think the key to spiritual healing is forgiveness and compassion, which does not bypass an issue but frees from holding on to this issue as part of one’s identity.

  6. Thank you Evan. This is a good reminder. It is true that nothing is something only love is. One may have compassion for the person hailing out abuses. This happens because the person does not know himself thus needs our love, the love of one who knows himself. It has been proven that Christian Science prayer brings healing to the situation. Peace always sets in.

  7. Thank you Annie – that hymn is really helpful to keep in mind – hymns are such a help as
    they are easy to remember and you can enjoy singing them around the house!

  8. I wrote these down, but didn’t write down the author, sorry:
    – Stop viewing people as all too human personalities – instead leave everyone in the care of Father-Mother God, knowing that in reality we are all obedient to Him and in harmony with each other.
    – God embraces us all in one love, maintaining us forever at peace. We have perfect and uninterrupted oneness with divine Love, God, which promotes peace within us and with each other.
    – No problem exists in omnipresent, omniscient Mind. Rising above difficulties, we are untroubled by them. We gain the joy of dominion.

    1. Wow, dear “J”, is that a wonderful and helpful comment, thank you very much! And thanks for the link to the article by Mark Swinney!-♡

      Thank you very much indeed, Evan, for your today’s healing SpiritView! Well, I am very grateful steadily learning in CS that God is all in all and the eternal Goodness and everpresent endless Love! And that we are His/Her loved, perfect spiritual ideas!
      Mrs. Eddy wrote the so comforting truth in SH under the heading: “What is Man” that man is idea, the image of Love! And on another page of SH we read that “man is the full representation of divine Mind, or you could also say …of divine Love. That means that in Divine Science there is no one who could hurt another. I must admit that I felt hurt sometimes by another’s saying, But as we learn today, is the true idea untouched by false feelings as in God’s kingdom hurting thoughts are never uttered!
      I love your SV very much, dear Evan!♡

  9. Once when I felt I was unjustly criticized or misunderstood, a practitioner said sometimes an explanation to others is helpful. She quoted Mrs. Eddy: “When error confronts you, withhold not the rebuke OR EXPLANATION which destroys error.” Before that Mrs. Eddy was discussing that our advancing course may provoke envy but it will also attract respect so it seems she wasn’t talking just about disease but other’s thoughts about us.
    It was a business situation I was dealing with and explaining the situation more fully was helpful so others understood the good motives and reasoning behind a course of action. Sometimes an explanation can help a human situation, and we can be prayerfully alert to an opportunity to do so.

  10. I have found that True friends accept us and our “opinions” for who we are.
    The world Seems so divided with politics and divisive thoughts occurring
    from the pandemic, etc., that some good people’s “minds” (little minds) have
    Seemed to be sort of poisoned, by like a hypnotic trance that keeps them
    from seeing the [T]ruth of things and who we All are as children of God..
    (It is important to keep this “animal magnetism” from reaching us, also).
    The statement in Maggie’s helpful article (Thank you, Maggie), “Well may we
    be offended at faults of our own, but we can hardly afford to be miserable for
    the faults of others”. Yes!
    I have found it best, rather than unproductively/frustratingly/unsuccessfully
    arguing … it is best for me, anyway, to let them believe what they will and
    let them go “in peace” with their thinking. I have found that when others are
    unopened to the [T]ruth about things ~ and God’s way of Love and understanding,
    it best to hold them in thought as perfect as God sees them, agree to disagree,
    think what they will, but not let it interfere with what I know to be true.
    I heard a saying regarding a dollar, “It is better to have 4 quarters than it is to
    have 100 pennies.” I interpret that as having Quality in good and True friendships
    of those who respect me for who I am and I do them, likewise. Seeing Everyone
    in God’s light and reflection is an ultimate goal, regardless of their “opinions”.
    I could comment with Pages on this topic … it is so important and relevant and
    appreciate so much the sharing of the spiritual view of it all. I am keeping it “short”. ; )

  11. Evan’s wisdom also applies to one’s own tendency to offend another. I have been known to lash out with harsh critical words to loved ones, out of a sense of being treated unfairly or disrespected, or out of self righteous judgment. Remorse always follows these temperamental outbursts,– self examination as to “why did I say that?”, — humble apologies,– and fervent prayer to express more God centered grace, composure, and unselfed Love. For me it has seemed to be an incessant battle with personal sense, but grateful there has been a measure of healing. Mary Baker Eddy writes these comforting words on page 118 of Misc. Writings…”Be of good cheer; the warfare with one’s self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you,– and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory.”

  12. (Updated January 3, 2023)

    The article titled “Taking Offense” is included in Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896 by Mary Baker Eddy. For many years there has been some uncertainty as to whether or not Eddy was in fact the author of this work. Despite extensive research into the question, the answers are complicated—and remain somewhat unclear. Here is what we know.

    The earliest known publication of “Taking Offence” was on May 15, 1869. It appeared on the front page of The Liberal Christian, a weekly newspaper based in New York City, with a focus on the Unitarian church. The article is signed by “The Editor,” who at the time was William Travis Clarke.1 According to the General Catalogue of the Harvard Divinity School, Clarke was the editor of the Christian Inquirer, later called The Liberal Christian, from 1865 until 1869.2 A “Valedictory,” which includes Clarke’s signed farewell, appeared in the paper on December 4, 1869, indicating that he was the editor responsible for the publication of “Taking Offense.”3

    A few weeks later, the article appeared in the June 2, 1869, issue of the Springfield [Massachusetts] Daily Republican, which attributed it to a “Liberal Christian.” It subsequently appeared anonymously in the February 1870 issue of Godey’s Lady’s Book.4

    A copy of “Taking Offense” appears in Eddy’s own scrapbook. However, the printing does not match those from The Liberal Christian, the Springfield Daily Republican, or Godey’s Lady’s Book. This indicates that the article was published elsewhere as well.5

    On April 14, 1883, “Taking Offense” was published anonymously in the first issue of the Journal of Christian Science.6 In June 1886, an excerpt was published in the Journal, prefaced with the comment “SOMEBODY has written these wise words:__.”7 When Miscellaneous Writings was compiled and published under Eddy’s direction in 1897, “Taking Offense” was included.

    Citing Godey’s and the anonymous reprints of the article in the Journal, critics asserted in 1929 that Eddy had plagiarized “Taking Offense,” based on its inclusion in Miscellaneous Writings. In the collections of The Mary Baker Eddy Library, this piece is found first as a clipping in Eddy’s scrapbook; it was among articles authored both by her and by many others that she saved and sometimes used in early issues of the Journal. Biographer Robert Peel felt strongly that the piece was not hers.8

    Eddy may not have written “Taking Offense.” But we do know she edited it. The final version that appears in Miscellaneous Writings shows that changes were made from the version that had appeared in the 1883 Journal, and it does not match any of the other versions that we have located.

    Eddy’s decision to include “Taking Offense” in her Miscellaneous Writings signifies that she deemed it important to read and consider. There were several other instances in which she chose to include passages or poems by other individuals that contributed to her core message. Some examples are A.E. Hamilton’s poem at the end of Retrospection and Introspection (“Ask God to give thee skill/In comfort’s art…”) and Martin Luther’s quote at the beginning of the chapter “Science of Being” in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (“Here I stand. I can do no otherwise; so help me God! Amen!”).9

  13. I cannot resist sharing again what happened to me when I was home from boarding school on Christmas vacation in Chicago. It was 6:00 at night and dark when a man grabbed me and stuck something in my back and said ” Do what I say or I will kill you.”. He dragged me to an empty field that had a billboard. I feel God spoke to me because I had this thought that came to mind. ” Your only hope is to see the God in him “. I then pulled back on him and as he looked at me I looked in his eyes and so only God Good. He kept pulling me and I did that again pulled back saw in his eyes only good and gently said leave me alonean. He gave me a push and said. ” All right go on then.” This absolutely changed my life and I have not felt threatened or angry with anyone since then!

  14. Dear Lindajane, Your thoughtful comment about person-alities and separate egos are very
    well inspired and described. Thank you!
    The friends I referred to had cut me off from friendship in thinking I was a “bad” person
    because of over and over again listening to “mortal” viewpoints, telling them falsities,
    mis-truths or un-truths or leaving out/censoring things that Are truth … or repeating over
    and over, fearful thinking, trying to sway their opinion, which for the most part worked
    with these individuals, about politics and matter-based so-called “remedies” with the
    pandemic. Thus they believed me to be wrong and I guess not worthy of friendship. In
    doing so in belittling my beliefs and not wanting to hear or understand my factual input,
    which every day is becoming more true in the “human” understanding, I keep them in my
    prayers and see them as God’s reflection of the One, perfect Mind and do not to take it
    Jesus overthrew the tables of the moneychangers and the Bible teaches us not to “cast
    pearls before swine” and “by their fruits shall ye know them”, but also, “Father, forgive them
    for they know not what they do”. I believe Mrs. Eddy also denounced error-onious, false
    thinking, not with the “person”, but with the supposed beliefs that were not God-like in
    thought. I hope this clarifies a bit more what I had written above. I so appreciate
    all of the wonderful thoughts shared and it all helps with my understanding. As Evan points
    out above, to “respond with love”, and in the case of these few friends, they may not know
    they are being loved, but they are.
    And Dear Marjorie, that was a very good demonstation that you shared. Thank you!

    1. Carol,
      It sounds like you’ve done everything you can with those friends. As one practitioner said something to the effect: “You don’t have to love a person, you just have to love.” That was from an audiochat with Bart Eck who had a domineering but well-meant mother. He felt he should love her more but didn’t like the domination aspect. This new insight helped with healing. Jesus didn’t spend much time on the unproductive. He said “follow thou me”. I read in a marketing book that the longer something has been around it gets segmented so big department stores get competitors for lingerie, swimwear stores, earring stores. So, our news has gotten segmented from 3 main channels, to cable news to individual podcasts. And they run the stories they think their listeners want to hear, and leave out the ones they wouldn’t like so in politics we’re not all presented with the same information. So, it’s hard to agree. It’s like a trial where each side only hears half the story. If you’ve educated yourself on both sides of an issue, it’s hard to discuss it with half-informed folks. But as Stephen Covey said – a best-selling business author – people don’t need to be right, they want to be understood. So, if we’ve listened respectfully to their point of view and repeated it back to them to show we understand it, that’s doing a lot. Then they MIGHT be open to hearing what we have to say. But if not, we can move on to more productive things. Seek first to understand, and then be understood Covey says. It sounds like you were very patient in listening to them and presenting your view. It appears they didn’t give your view the same respect so it is casting our pearls before swinish thought. One time I was pleasantly discussing a political situation with a dear family member (who had brought up the topic) standing in a doorway and his wife slammed the door in my face. I was aghast I thought. Then I remembered Mrs. Eddy writing: Why stand aghast at nothingness? And I realized the dear wife had just had a baby six weeks before, wasn’t getting sleep etc. It was nothing. I realized we were being clueless and inconsiderate having this discussion in the bathroom while she was bathing the baby. She needed peace and calm. He apologized for us, and it’s like it never happened. Thanks for your comments.

      1. Thank you so very much, Lindajane for your very thoughtful and thought
        provoking comment. I appreciate it very much and you bring up some
        very valid and helpful points. Yes, I had tried to be very patient with these
        certain friends. One, whom I’ve been friends with for years and we were
        totally opposites with many things, but always got along, came right out
        bluntly and said, she likes to “put her head in the sand” and not know about
        the issues. I think spiritually, we do need to be aware of things, so we can
        guard against any incoming mortal mind suggestions. All of the friends
        mentioned got their information from the same sources and had no desire
        to see or understand another viewpoint, so you are right, they were only
        half informed and some issues I had presented, they had no idea what I
        was talking about, because who they listened to had never included any
        of that information what they cherry-picked to “inform” their viewers with.
        The podcasts I listen to do tend to give both sides of the story, but mostly
        it reinforces Why their “opinion” makes more sense and their ideas are
        shown rather than just told about, which makes them more palpable. It
        is up to each of us to try to understand issues and each other in ways that
        help heal the divide, but like you (and Jesus) had said, if ideas are rejected
        and not respected, it is not productive to try to persuade or convince others
        who are unwilling to see our point of view. I think in CS, we are pretty used
        to being there with all sorts of willingness to share, IF someone is interested,
        but it is something very dear to our hearts and can be taken the wrong way,
        so , like the practitioner you mentioned above, had said, “You don’t have
        to love a person, you just have to love”. I think living by example, is the best
        way to do that. Understanding where we each are coming from in a kind
        way, is very useful as you realized with, the perhaps disturbing of the new
        mother, without realizing it.
        Thank you, again, so much for your kind response. It means a lot to receive
        your helpful and caring thoughts.

        1. Carol,
          Your situation was helpful to consider. It put the story of Jesus withering up the tree when it didn’t produce fruit into perspective. I’d never understood it quite. Now I do better. If a conversation is unproductive, wither it up. Ha!
          The relative I had political discussion with (my son actually) has a PhD in economics and we’ve always been able to discuss politics and most topics very comfortably. I like to know his perspective as he’s analytical and well-read and we share the same values, but vote for different parties. I almost shut the conversation down as I had with my other son when his wife was in the room and she breathed relief as she doesn’t like to discuss politics with family. So, I just answered a question or two from this son and figured we could sidetrack it till later if need be. I should have suggested we discuss it on our walk later. I’m just glad my sons are open to discussion. I’ve found reflective listening where you mirror back what they say very valuable in raising kids – comments like “So you want to drop out of college for awhile?” (instead of “Are you crazy – don’t you realize how many kids wish they could go to your school?” (That son decided to stay in school but he likes learning through experience better than book learning.) Now its “So you feel one political party needs to do more about the environment and talk about it more as a priority? What do you think is the biggest thing that could be done to help pollution, water shortages etc.? Do you think overbuilding is a problem? Do we have overpopulation or underpopulation? Etc. Thanks again for your comments!

  15. I’ve just come back to this discussion in the middle of the night as I couldn’t sleep, and so many more inspiring thoughts and testimonies of wisdom. Thank you all very much. God is so good,
    and Christian Science is the pearl of great price. There is only one infinite
    God, good governing us all forever.

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