Recently, a friend wrote and told me about this article titled “Masters of Love” in the Atlantic Monthly that discusses the psychology behind lasting marriages and solid relationships. This article reminded me of the video showing “the still face experiment” which shows the importance of a mother’s love and how affectionate responses help children develop better. The article and video made me ask how are affection and healing linked?
I admit that I haven’t always thought about affection as a means of healing, or even as a preventative (prophylactic) form of mental medicine. And just to clarify, I don’t mean affection as in physical love or sensuality. I see it as love expressed through goodness, purity, compassion, empathy, love — Christianity in action.
By connecting the dots I saw that affection is a catalyst for good. Kindness helps human development and it’s the oil that helps marriages work, and it’s essential to spiritual growth and Christian healing. As I thought about it I felt led to review I Corinthians, chapter 13. This scripture shows we need to have love and to give love. It’s just a fact. It’s why we have our being. But without love, even divine Love, God, supporting our motives and actions, we’ll lack what gives real substance to our hard work and good deeds.
This reminds me of what Mary Baker Eddy’s spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, where she wrote “Feed the famished affections (p.17:4-5)” being the spiritual substance of “Give us this day our daily bread.”
What does it mean to feed famished affections? In thinking about it, it made me see again that only divine Love could really feed and supply real affection. Only divine Love can give us true satisfaction, joy, and fulfillment. But isn’t the desire to express Love’s activity by being loving an important aspect of Christianity — deed over talk? Following this statement of “Feed the famished affections” is this:
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And Love is reflected in love;
—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p.17
As I pondered this line, I again felt these ideas helped me see more of what Christianity and Christ-healing is all about—expressing God’s love.
However, all of this takes practice. It takes patience, humility, and consecration. No one gets this all figured out overnight. But by practicing affectionate, moral behavior we grow. We learn and become better, and through it our relationships strengthen, it makes us grow, and we improve our lives as well as others as we express God’s loving affection—tender mercies—toward others.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The beautiful in character is also the good, welding indissolubly the links of affection.
—Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health, p.60