It felt AS IF some cosmic casting director had made a gigantic mistake. I was playing the wrong role. Or so I thought.
I had been called to help plan a large conference and was thrilled at the prospect of making a difference. But as the pace accelerated, I began to feel lost, as if I was in the wrong job. From the start, I'd been ready to jump in with both feet, immerse myself in the work, learn new skills. Now it seemed that there was a serious mismatch between the demands of the job and my ability to carry them out.
I prayed just to make it through the day without feeling like a failure. How had my limited business experience qualified me to participate where I'd been placed? Was I in over my head?
Often during the day, I would retreat to my two favorite life-skills books, the Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. Ideas in these books were the lifelines I needed. "What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" (Mic. 6:8), the Bible reassured. "Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need," promised Science and Health (page 494).
Both books encouraged me to stop fretting about skills I lacked and instead to focus on spiritual qualities I already possessed - qualities such as compassion and integrity and the sincere desire to help others, which had been so useful to me as a stay-at-home mom and community volunteer. I found myself asking God to use me in whatever way I was best qualified. But at times I still felt desperately inadequate.
And then it happened. I was standing on an outdoor plaza, talking with my 21-year-old daughter who had just arrived for the conference. Suddenly she cried out, "Oh, Mom! That baby!" What I saw when I turned to face the nearby reflecting pool was a young child, maybe a year old, gasping for breath as he sank below the surface of the shallow water.
In an instant, I was in the pool - clothes, security passes, shoes, and all - lifting up the sputtering, coughing baby who had drifted beyond arm's reach. The stunned father, a local resident who must have been momentarily distracted, was visibly shaken. My daughter and I spent the next several minutes comforting both father and child. The baby quickly became more absorbed in a runaway hat than in the memory of his underwater adventure.
The dad was grateful, but harder to console. Eventually he relaxed, and we retreated to make our report to security and to let the father gather his composure and his baby supplies before heading home for the day.
It was then that it struck me. When we first saw the baby, others were around the pool, but no one else was within about 40 feet, and it was obvious that speed was important. We didn't see the baby fall in, and he must have already been struggling for a few seconds. Why hadn't anyone else seen it? Or if they had, why were they frozen in place watching but not responding?
Up until this point, I had felt I was just too slow to be working in this fast-paced environment and that there wasn't time to catch on to processes and methods familiar to full-time workers but new to me. Things that came naturally to longtime employees required time for me to think through.
The fact that I was able to respond so quickly in this critical situation felt to me like God's way of saying that I was needed.
Did I feel like some kind of hero? Not at all. But I did gain a new appreciation for what it means to be useful. And at no point during the rest of the conference week did I ever doubt that I had been called to play an important role. Increasingly I looked for opportunities to offer a nurturing touch to co-workers. And some of my interviewing and writing work was successfully included in the conference after all.
No matter what you are currently doing, God has a divinely directed purpose for you, too. Don't ever doubt your worth or your placement. You can trust that divine Love is even now equipping you with the necessary qualities to be forever useful and needed.