I loved my work. I also loved the people I worked with. But one day everything came to an abrupt end. Without any warning, I was laid off.
In my situation, I knew what my next step of work would be I had already been working in my own business part time. So I knew I would pursue this work full time and I was happy about that. But this was a big change for me.
After spending a lot more time by myself working out of my home, I started feeling lonely and disconnected from people.
Feeling lonely was something I had never felt before. So, as I've done many times when faced with problems, I decided to ask God for an answer.
I began by thinking about my relation to God, my Father-Mother. It made sense to me that since God had created me, I was always going to be connected to Him. Mary Baker Eddy brings this point out in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "As a drop of water is one with the ocean, a ray of light one with the sun, even so God and man, Father and son, are one in being" (pg. 361).
Each of us is connected to God because we're all created by Him. And since we all have a relation to God, it follows logically that each of us has right relationships with His children.
Even though my work had changed and I wasn't in touch with many of the same people anymore, I realized that I still had to be connected to others in useful, joyous, satisfying ways. I remembered a passage from Science and Health where Mrs. Eddy says that man is not "an isolated, solitary idea, for he represents infinite Mind ..." (pg. 259).
As God's child, I realized I couldn't be isolated or left out of right relationships. I could see that I had to let go of the past and stop clinging to my former friendships so that I could see how God was connecting me to others in new ways.
Although I was grateful for these spiritual ideas, I still wasn't finding the connections I was yearning for. I felt that my prayers were desperate pleas to God to hurry up and fix my aching heart, to take away the empty feelings.
One day I felt so lonely that I couldn't stand it. I decided to call a friend who is a Christian Science practitioner and ask her to pray with me for healing. After describing how lonely I was feeling, she immediately suggested that I think of a couple of things I could do for others tangible good deeds.
At first I balked. After all, I was the one in need of help. But I knew that my friend loved me, and I trusted her prayers. So I rather reluctantly agreed.
Within 10 minutes, I came up with about five things I could do for others. What really surprised me is that I wanted to do them. I went to visit an older friend who needed some company. I called another friend who wanted to talk. Then I realized I could volunteer to do more work at the house where I live.
That was the last time I felt that desperate loneliness. I started to feel a joy about being a tangible blessing to others, even if in small ways. In fact, I was amazed when I started waking up in the morning thinking about what I could do for others that day. It was refreshing and invigorating.
Being willing to do those good deeds was what led me to a complete healing of loneliness and to much greater joy and satisfaction. As I continued to pray, to listen, I was struck by something I'd never seen before.
Although my desire for connection to others had felt legitimate and well-intentioned, it was putting too much focus on myself and what I wanted. But God was showing me something different: He was telling me that what really satisfied me was to love others in practical ways. As I was willing to do this, I did feel satisfied and connected to others in just the right way.
My main lesson was simple yet profound: My desire to be connected to others had to be subordinate to my willingness to love. Mrs. Eddy puts it this way: "True prayer is not asking God for love; it is learning to love, and to include all mankind in one affection" ("No and Yes," pg. 39).