"Thank you, Father, for including me." These were very surprising words, but they came to my thought as clearly as if a voice had spoken them. Even more important to me than the words, though, was the feeling - an overwhelming feeling of being included, of being totally, lovingly, warmly embraced.
The scene, on the other hand, was the opposite.
I had just been excluded from - not informed of, or invited to - a staff meeting. The company was in the process of restructuring and downsizing, and my high-level management position had been eliminated. My salary was cut nearly in half, and for several months I had been in a somewhat nebulous position in sales.
Friends and family members had expressed outrage during this time, encouraged me to leave the company, and offered suggestions. I must admit, it was tempting. I sensed, however, that there were deeper lessons, and I would be the loser if I walked away from them. How true this proved to be.
No stranger to employment challenges, the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, "Be of good cheer; the warfare with one's self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment ..." ("Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896," pg. 118).
After many years of ill health and financial insecurity, struggling and searching for a way out, she had discovered a deeper basis of life. She called this discovery Christian Science because it was provable in her life. In 1875 she wrote a book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," clearly explaining what she had learned of this deeper, spiritual reality and identity. The impact on her own life was profound. Mrs. Eddy regained her full health and went on to become a strong, independent businesswoman, successful healer, teacher, lecturer, author, and publisher.
In an address delivered in 1893, which includes the lines quoted above, she advised others from her own experience: "Self-ignorance, self-will, self-righteousness, lust, covetousness, envy, revenge, are foes to grace, peace, and progress; they must be met manfully and overcome, or they will uproot all happiness."
I asked a friend to pray with me in this new line of employment. The main thrust of my prayer was an earnest desire to become humble enough to hear what God wanted me to hear in order to destroy the foes to my "grace, peace, and progress." "I am willing" became my moment-by-moment prayer to God.
During many difficult months, I became willing. Willing to file, willing to collate, willing to offer help. This became easier as I became more comfortable with what God was teaching me about employment and, most important, my true Employer. I came to see, and gradually accept and love, the idea that the infinite intelligence of the universe was the source of my employment. Really, I asked myself, how could there be another source?
God was generating and nurturing the useful qualities He had graciously bestowed on me - intelligence, creativity, enthusiasm, helpfulness. I decided to put in writing what I was learning. This is what I wrote: "I am fully, enjoyably, actively employed. I will never be more fully employed than I am today, because I have one Employer. I have had the same Employer eternally. My one Employer is gentle, tender, wise, loving. He knows what will best promote my growth and freedom; and provide opportunities for blessing, expression, happiness, pleasure. I am God's pleasure - God's will is God's pleasure. I am actively employed today, with unlimited opportunity."
So that day when I realized all the sales staff were sauntering past my cubicle to a meeting, I turned to God in prayer. And those words, "Thank you, Father," and the feeling of being included engulfed me. It was an awesome feeling. I felt included in something that's hard to put into words - a sense of being lifted up into a Love that includes the universe. A Love that includes each one of us at this moment. A Love that completely satisfies our desire to be included.
Eventually, I was told that my vague position was also being eliminated. But my feeling of inclusion remained. Within a few months, I was employed in a delightful, rewarding new job. The transition was easy and natural. I had the same Employer. I always will.