Thursday, June 02, 2005

"There is good in him"

Okay, so I saw Star Wars III for the second time last night, with my son. And I loved it as much the second time. I know, I know, I've read all the reviews that talk about weak dialog, poor acting, etc., but I didn't see it. I was just as happy at the end, with all the loose ends tied up from thirty years of wondering.

And the spiritual point? Was there one, you ask? Well, I thought so! So here goes.

Without revealing too many plot points (as if you don't know them already), one character (who shall remain nameless) said about another character (who became totally evil -- guess which one): "There is good in him. I know there is still…" (And then that character became unable to speak -- no revealing plot points here!)

"There is good in him." No matter how evil he seemed at the moment.

A theme I love. So here's my offering for today, a version of which was published in The Christian Science Monitor yesterday.


Hopelessness isn’t a normal thing for me, but in this instance, I was out of options.

My son, whom I adore, was just continually getting into trouble. No sooner had we worked through the crime and punishment for one kind of mischief-making than he’d devise a whole new batch. And it was getting more serious as he got older. By the time he was in 6th grade, it was his schoolwork that was suffering. Intelligent as he was, he was pulling Ds and Fs in all his classes.

Everything I tried had failed. Teacher conferences, sitting down with him during homework, lecturing him about paying attention in class, none of it had any lasting effect. Revoking privileges like computer time or television didn’t do any good either, and just made our time at home very stressful.

Where can you go when situations seem hopeless? When your own human efforts don’t even begin to make a dent in the problem?

One particular evening, after he’d been subjected to another of my tirades before bed, I just broke down. I knew I was failing at helping him, but couldn’t think of anything I could do. I was terrified about his future and overwhelmed at facing this alone.

So I called a friend of the family who's also a Christian Science practitioner. She knows my little guy pretty well. And as I spewed out all his escapades, suddenly she burst into laughter. “You know he's a clever boy! Don't you worry about him. See the good in him.”

This brought me up short. I knew she meant that my boy as a spiritual creation of the one God who is Principle and Truth embodied only good. He is inherently good because he's created that way by our mutual Parent, God. These mischievous and undisciplined moments were not the final word on him. I had been defining him by his actions; my friend reminded me to define him by his being.

I protested at first. I mean, didn't he need to just toe the line? Once we were off the phone though, I thought about it more deeply. This sentence from the Christian Science textbook clarified things for me: “To calculate one's life-prospects from a material basis, would infringe upon spiritual law and misguide human hope.” I could see then that's exactly what I had been doing. I had been extrapolating his bad grades into a lifetime of failure for him. I was “calculating [my son's] life-prospects” from a limited, mortal basis instead of seeing his genuine potential as God's child.

I didn't fully understand what this meant though until the next time his irresponsibility resulted in a failing grade. I have to admit, I went ballistic. He had also lied to me about it and tried to cover it up, and I became a towering inferno of rage, as he stood there with tears in his eyes. In the middle of this though, I heard my friend's cheerful voice in my head -- “See the good in him!”

I stopped suddenly, and just looked at him. He stared back at me. I thought about how much I loved him and what a great guy he is, generally. I thought about his cheerfulness, his creativity, his helpfulness. And I heard myself saying, “I'm not going to let this ruin our time together anymore. We're going to forget about it for now and have fun.”

That evening, we had a relaxed family time like we hadn't had in weeks. And I subsequently found the calm to let go of my anxiety about his grades. I listened to my friend and tried to see only the good in him. When he came home with a bad grade, I just kept saying, “I have faith in you and I know you'll figure this grade thing out.”

What's interesting to me is that both he and I feel that the healing took place then. I talked about it with him more recently, now that his 7th grade marks are indeed where they should be in the Bs and As category. It took some time for the grades to change, but it was my learning to see the good in him that made the difference to him and to our relationship.

As I write this, I'm reminded of this passage from Psalms: “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God.” When you turn to God, nothing is hopeless.


Who can you see the good in today?

Your ideas and inspiration are welcome! Please comment below or Contact Laura.
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At 6/02/2005 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Amy said...

Hi Laura!
I got your blog address from the S&H study group...anyway, just wanted to thank you for this. Your friend's words, about defining your son by his actions rather than his being was exactly what I needed today in seeing the good in someone close to me. :o)

At 6/02/2005 10:03:00 AM, Blogger Laura said...

Thank you! so glad it was helpful!

FYI, for anyone who wants to know, the Science and Health study group is at They're reading it through together in a year. I'm participating, and loving it.


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