MY favorite blues harmonica player was performing at a large festival. I wanted to go. But I had spent the same holiday weekend the previous year at a festival with a special friend. We had since broken up, and I was afraid I'd feel terribly lonely.
When I boarded the bus to the festival, everyone else was with friends. The seat next to mine remained empty. Feeling dismal, I began to pray. I didn't pray for a specific outcome. I didn't even pray to receive a blessing. Instead, I found myself praying to be a blessing. This was a breakthrough. Up to that point I'd been thinking only about how I felt. My prayer shifted my thought away from myself and drew it to God.
I had hoped to find a friend or two around the blues stage, but I didn't. As I looked for an empty spot on the lawn, though, I noticed a woman sitting alone. Remembering my prayer to be a blessing, I asked if I could join her. She was delighted, and we talked nonstop until the music started.
As I stood in line for lemonade afterward, a man I had met at a dance came over to say hello. We enjoyed the rest of the festival together. I never had a lonely moment. Neither did he. It was a pretty amazing day.
Have you ever felt almost invisible when you're unhappy? I have. The world looks bleak, and I feel bleak, and nobody looks my way. Praying to be a blessing shatters this self-defeating routine. It transforms our thoughts and our faces. People respond.
Such prayer isn't complicated. It can be as simple as shifting our attention to God. A gloomy picture of ourselves can be as hypnotic as a bad television show. And it doesn't have any more reality. But it can seem like quite an effort to turn our thought to the spiritual reality God is telling us about!
Sometimes I turn to God by listening for His direction: "God, what do You want me to do with this day?" Other times I turn to God by thinking about who He is: God is divine Love, the source of friendship and affection, the remedy for loneliness; He is Life, the source of sparkle and buoyancy; He is Soul, the source of self-worth, the antidote for depression. Then I start thinking of others. How can I express God's nature to help meet others' needs and lift their spirits? That's when I become visible again. People notice me in lemonade lines.
Getting our thoughts off ourselves and onto God and those around us is like opening a door and welcoming good into our lives. The Bible is full of examples. Abraham and Ruth are two of them. Genesis tells the story of Abram (later called Abraham) and Lot. When the land couldn't support them both, Abram let his nephew have first choice of where he would go. After the two men separated, God gave Abram all the land he could see (see Genesis, chap. 13).
When Ruth's husband died, she chose to stay with Naomi, her widowed mother-in-law-chose to be a blessing-instead of returning to her family. The book of Ruth records her words to Naomi: "Whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (1:16). So when Naomi returned to her own country, Ruth accompanied her. And Ruth's actions and remarriage brought blessing and provision to both herself and Naomi.
During the late 1800's, an American woman named Mary Baker Eddy was convinced that Scriptural promises and healings were based on reliable law, not chance or a creator's whim. She studied Christ Jesus' works and prayed until she consistently healed physical and mental troubles by turning to God and obeying His laws. Her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures shows how each of us can demonstrate the law of Christian healing she discovered and named Christian Science.
Unselfishness is a vital factor in bringing the law of Love, God, to bear on our relationships and daily activities. In Science and Health Mrs. Eddy explains, "The rich in spirit help the poor in one grand brotherhood, all having the same Principle, or Father; and blessed is that man who seeth his brother's need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another's good" (p. 518).
The harmonica player gave a fantastic performance. As his blues grew richer, mine dissolved, dispelled by the simple desire to be a blessing.