There I sat, feeling that I was in way over my head. This interview was the first of a battery of meetings and tests for a select training program. The problem was, I didn't fit its requirements - at least on paper.
You might wonder how I came to be there. The answer is prayer - a humble, open searching of God's will for me. I believe in God's tender interest in the well-being of each one of us. That His allness includes an intimate knowledge of the goodness and value of every member of creation. That God's loving purpose for us is wrought in ways that match our needs and natures.
So I followed the strong impetus to apply. But acting further on my prayer was difficult. What was I doing there? I wasn't sure.
Some soul-searching was in order. Was my motive selfless? Yes. I desired to serve in ways that made better use of my qualities and proven skills. Was I willing to let this opportunity pass if my prayer led me in a different direction? Absolutely. I'd won the struggle over wanting something whether it seemed right or not. Did I have the courage to follow my spiritual intuition wherever it took me? I thought so.
Finally, one lone doubt remained: While perhaps God had led me to this point, the officials in charge hadn't bought into my application. They were considering it largely because of legal requirements relating to gender, but it was clear they didn't expect or desire that I measure up to the position. I held no graduate degree, I lacked specialized experience in this field, and all but one of the trainees in the program's history had been male.
As I continued my spiritual listening, a phrase came to thought: "endorsed pre-eminently by the approval of God." Instantly I understood. Rather than needing the endorsement of any other person, I had God's approval. He loves me just as He created me, just as I am.
My fear dissolved so completely that the next four months of interviews were marked by collegiality, respect, and an increasingly warm welcome. I could now consider the training opportunity without anxiety or longing and to honestly explain that I was interested in the program only if it were a good fit for everyone concerned.
This was a dramatic change - and a relief - from feeling the need to persuade or impress. More, it was entirely novel to my interviewers, and it effortlessly earned their regard. They considered my potential without the limits of tradition and commented on how surprised they were at my success.
The phrase I found in prayer - "endorsed pre-eminently by the approval of God" - is one way Mary Baker Eddy described Jesus in her work "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (page 42).
I've wondered whether it's right to claim for myself a status that belonged to Jesus. Pondering his mission has settled any doubts. As the Son of the Father-Mother we have in common, his very purpose was to prove that God's unending goodness was not just his, but ours. His words confirm this: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Luke 12:32). Jesus showed how God infinitely values all His children, without exception or interruption.
Understanding my endorsement by God radically changed my approval rating. Recognizing our God-given approval can regenerate even the most time-honored or sophisticated systems of human evaluation. When we look to God for endorsement, we follow the Bible's counsel: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Tim. 2:15).
About my application - on the eve of my acceptance into the program, an unforeseen development in my personal life necessitated my withdrawal. Why had I gone through this tough process only to drop out, I wondered. More prayer brought a clear answer: I needed the spiritual lesson, not the job. The next position I took - helping others think through career options and strategies - demanded a strong understanding of our infinite worth to God.
What is our spiritual approval rating? It's off the charts, because each of us is immeasurably good, indispensable, and precious to God.