DURING the economic downturn of the mid-1970s, the newspaper for which I worked needed to cut staff. I was laid off. This devastated me. I had a wife and child to support. What was I going to do?
As a Christian Scientist, I pray daily. Even in the middle of my distress I knew that first of all I should turn to God. I began to pray consecratedly for God's guidance. I also prepared a resume and made inquiries in areas where my talents and experience might be of use.
Nothing much happened immediately. As my wife and I prayed, we began to see that we could use this challenging time as an opportunity to realign our priorities. We decided to sell our house and move closer to where both our families lived.
Eventually I began an entirely new career. The career change required several years, however, and I had to learn some lessons on the way. Here are some of the ideas that helped me.
* Praying for myself every day. A friend had urged me to pray for myself each day for at least ten minutes. During this career change I learned to pray with more precision, more devotion. I regularly affirmed what I knew to be the facts of my identity: that I was created by the all-loving, all-powerful, ever-present God; that I express spiritual qualities--intelligence, usefulness, wholeness; that my expression of these qualities constitutes my identity, my activity, my source of supply.
* Watching my thinking. During this time I faced a lot of discouraging thoughts, from ``You're a failure" to ``Why aren't you worrying more about supporting your family?" Prayer helped me to see that these thoughts were not my thinking. They were the world trying to think for me. They did not facilitate my career change or help my progress in any way. And I realized that because they didn't come from God I didn't have to accept them.
* Letting God guide me. Humility and consecration to good show us how to turn more fully to God for guidance. I tried to be willing to consider every idea that came along from the standpoint of what would serve God and my fellowman best.
* Actually living my desire for right activity. For a long time I asked myself: ``OK, I'm praying. But what am I doing?" Then I began to realize that it wasn't enough to listen for God's guidance. I had to obey it actively, too. It was clear I could not be a praying couch-potato. I needed to be willing to follow the guidance I was praying to receive. The opportunities weren't always what I expected, but gradually I learned how to recognize them, how to be grateful for them, and how to take advantage of t hem.
* Persevering in prayer. As you might expect, I went through periods of discouragement. Sometimes I asked: ``God, is this really what I'm supposed to be doing? If not, please show me what I should do." One day I returned from a meeting feeling that the activity I was striving toward would never develop into anything. I picked up that day's issue of the Monitor and read the title of the religious article. It was: ``Don't Give Up." Encouraged, I persevered.
* Being patient and humble. Christ Jesus' example shows us that these are not qualities of passivity but of spiritual strength. They combine well with and enhance other qualities of strength: courage, energy, alertness.
* Being grateful for the good already received. Gratitude helps us to be receptive to more good. As the Psalmist urges: ``Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness."
* Seeing the spiritual purpose of what we are doing. As I prayed, I began to realize that we don't work to live--or live to work. We actually live to love, to grow spiritually. We work to show our unique expression of God's qualities. In short, our purpose is to glorify God.
What happened to me after I was let go? A play I'd written got performed at a university theater. One of the actors recommended the play to a producer he knew, and the play was produced for television. Through little effort of my own, I suddenly found myself on the threshold of possibilities I had never imagined would open up for me.
I still pray for myself daily. I still have to watch my thinking--though that's not always easy to do. I still listen for God's guidance.
The change of careers hasn't been an easy task, but the spiritual growth I've experienced has more than rewarded me for the effort it's taken. In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, explains that we can't put off such spiritual growth indefinitely. She writes, ``When this hour of development comes, even if you cling to a sense of personal joys, spiritual Love will force you to accept what best promotes your growth." This i s what God, divine Love, forced me to do in this situation. The outcome has been my coming into a fuller understanding of my spiritual identity, purpose, and being.
You can find more articles about spiritual healing in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.
Serve the Lord with gladness:
come before his presence
with singing. . . .
For the Lord is good;
his mercy is everlasting;
and his truth endureth
to all generations.
Psalms 100:2, 5