If you have just been laid off from your place of employment, or have just retired, you may describe yourself as "out of work." That's what I was tempted to believe about myself when I was retired somewhat earlier than I had anticipated.
At such a time - and there are several million people in the United States working through a similar situation today - it would be more helpful to consider this as merely a transition from one form of usefulness to another. And transition times can be just as useful to one's development as a time of busy paid employment.
Someone suggested to me at the time when I first found myself free of a job, that when one door closed, it was so another would open.
But have you ever considered that sometimes the next door cannot open until we have firmly shut the one we came through? There is no room in thought for mourning the loss of a job, for feeling resentment toward the employer who fired you, or for feeling jealous about a fellow employee who is still working. What is past is past, and we cannot expect to move on until our thought is looking forward, no longer cluttered by ruminating about the past.
Transition time can also be used to consider the idea that one's worth is not mainly in what one does, but in what one is. For, what we are determines, more than anything else, how we can be the most useful in life. John Adams, living in France and separated from his children for some time during the American Revolution, wrote to one of them: "To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do." In reading this recently, I was reminded of some advice Mary Baker Eddy gave, when she wrote in answer to the question, What am I?, "I am able to impart truth, health, and happiness, and this is my rock of salvation and my reason for existing" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 165).
When you're out of work, it may seem that the talents you have are not appreciated. Now may be the time, more so than in times of an easy prosperity, to remind yourself that you are always the loved child of God, that your relation to God is actually an inseparable one, and that your identity as the reflection of your Maker is firmly established in Him, never in any state of transition.
The spiritual identity of each one of us reflects boundless intelligence. It has a divine purpose. It exists not to glorify one's limited sense of ego but to reflect the glory of God, the infinite Ego of which we are the reflection. As we go about our work of reflecting Love by being loving, by expressing intelligence and diligence, it is easier for someone considering employing us to see what an addition to that firm or work force we can be.
As we look for that new door to open, it's also helpful not to put a label on it beforehand. That is, our thought needs to be open to new avenues of work, to tasks that need to be done and that may actually demand more from us than the old job did. If we have established clearly our sense of spiritual identity, we know that the qualities that define us can be put to use in innumerable ways, most of which we probably haven't even considered.
Another remark of Mrs. Eddy's, this one from the Christian Science textbook, helped me in finding new approaches to activity when I retired: "Spirit, God, gathers unformed thoughts into their proper channels, and unfolds these thoughts, even as He opens the petals of a holy purpose in order that the purpose may appear" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 506).
Transition times may feel challenging when we are living through them. Put to good use, though, they can strengthen our sense of self-worth - that is, our worth as God's children - always active, useful, needed.
Mine elect shall long enjoy
the work of their hands....
For they are the seed of the
blessed of the Lord, and
their offspring with them.
Isaiah 65:22, 23