I was working late. As I walked toward my boss's office with a folder full of material, I felt like a packhorse carrying a heavy load. But in my case, the load was the growing burden of mistakes I thought I'd made.
The series of poor decisions had begun years earlier, right after college, with the career path I'd chosen. I went to a foreign country, only to find that wasn't the right path after all. That mistake alone cost me a couple of years.
Then I got married on what looked, in hindsight, like a whim. I was ill and penniless at the time, and I wondered if I'd really been honest with my husband. Maybe I'd just wanted someone else to take over for a while. I talked him into selling some property - another bad decision. Also, I felt I'd made mistakes in our daughter's upbringing.
Now, to top it off, I wasn't sure I still belonged in this job. I'd been hired as part of a new direction, but the direction had recently changed. And here I was, I thought - headed down the wrong path again.
I peeked around my boss's door, and as he looked up from his desk, I saw the kindest expression on his face. It was as though he saw right through me. I'm pretty sure I hadn't mentioned my discouragement to him. Certainly I hadn't told him the details of my life.
I did know, however, that he was a spiritually minded man, and that he had helped a lot of people pray through their problems. Before I even had the chance to say good evening, he said: "You didn't make a mistake. You just got there another way." I felt as if someone had told me I had the right to breathe!
The interesting thing was, I didn't feel I needed to say another thing. When I went back to my desk, I got to thinking more about this man's compassionate, insightful observation. The Bible tells of several individuals who felt this kind of intuitive response to other people's needs.
There's the story of King Artaxerxes, for instance, who was perceptive enough to see that his servant Nehemiah was sad. When pressed, Nehemiah told the king that he wanted to help rebuild his ancestral city. The king sent him off with his blessing (see Nehemiah, chapter 2).
I could see that it was in God's interest - not just my own! - that I would end up on the right path, no matter where I started out, and no matter how much I fumbled or stumbled along the way. I knew that the 23rd Psalm speaks of God as a Shepherd. It promises, "He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Ps. 23:3).
This verse in a favorite Christian hymn also reinforced my hope:
Holy Father, Thou hast taught us
We should live to Thee alone;
Year by year, Thy hand hath brought us
On through dangers oft unknown.
When we wandered, Thou hast found us;
When we doubted, sent us light;
Still Thine arm has been around us,
All our paths were in Thy sight.
(John M. Neale, "Christian Science Hymnal," No.115).
That was the beginning of getting back on the right path. A number of adjustments soon took place in my life, and I've felt less anxious, happier, more hopeful ever since. I'm seeing that all our paths are truly in God's sight. There's nowhere we can go, no path we can take, where God will not already be there. Watching. Loving. Guiding us right back to Him.
The understanding, even in a
degree, of the divine All-power
destroys fear, and plants
the feet in the true path..."
Mary Baker Eddy
"Science and Health
with Key to the Scriptures"