What gets you going?
A spiritual look at issues of interest to young people
Do you sometimes find it hard to get going and do the things you're supposed to do? Maybe you just don't feel like cleaning your room. Or being nice to your sister. Or maybe your know your homework is going to be really difficult, so you can't bring yourself to even open the book. What can you do to get yourself going?
If I'm overwhelmed by too much to do, or something hard to do, or just not wanting to do something I know I should do, I think about all the things I have to be grateful for.
Usually, I take my dog for a walk to do this thinking. I look at the trees and the mountains, and think about how grateful I am to live in such a beautiful place. Or about how grateful I am for my best friend, or the great summer I had. Or the cute doggie running ahead of me, chasing chipmunks and never catching them. I always feel close to God when I do that kind of thinking, which you could call prayer. I say, "Thank you, Father, for Your love and all of the goodness of Your creation."
Maybe you're wondering, "What does that have to do with getting me going?" Well, it seems like gratitude is just a feeling. But for me, if I'm really grateful, I want to act on it. Show my thanks to God in some way. I'll pray, "God, how can I serve You?" And the "some way," I've found, can be doing what I'm supposed to do. I'll think, "I can show my gratitude for these beautiful mountains by doing that hard assignment now." Or, "One way I can express my thanks for this wonderful home and family is to actually clean the place!" Doing good to other people, doing things that help them and make their day easier and brighter, is one way of serving God.
A book that has taught me a lot about gratitude is called "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by a woman named Mary Baker Eddy. She faced some really hard times - she was very sick, had serious family problems, and was poor and homeless for several years. But she kept working hard and praying hard. And she learned so much about how God is good and loves all of us, that she was healed of being sick, and was able to solve her other problems step by step.
She discovered that each one of us is actually an expression of God's goodness. And that our real nature doesn't include sickness or fear or anything else bad.
But Mary Baker Eddy didn't just say, "Gee, that's great. I'm grateful that I'm well now." No, her gratitude got her going, and she worked hard to help other people know about the ideas that had helped her so much. That's why she wrote Science and Health.
This book asks, "Are we really grateful for the good already received? Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more. Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech" (Pg. 3).
There's a story in the Bible that gives a good example of this (see Matt. 15:32-39). One day Jesus was speaking to a huge crowd of people - maybe about God's love for them and what it means that we're all the children of God. Well, the people were there for so long without any food that it looked like they could faint. And they only had seven loaves of bread with them, and a few fish - small fish at that.
Jesus told everyone to sit down - more than 4,000 people - and gave gratitude for the food that they did have. And I think he was feeling really grateful to know about God's love and care for each person there. But he didn't just stop there. No, he started giving the food to the crowd. And somehow there was enough for everyone, with lots of leftovers! That was gratitude getting things done.
Two things about showing gratitude through your actions are really great. First, it actually makes doing what you're supposed to do fun. It's like you're so full of thankfulness, you enjoy showing it by doing good things. Second, you're able to help other people.
So take the time to think about something you're really, really thankful for. I know there's something. Then let that feeling get you going. And be nice to your sister, too.
You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, which comes out every week.