At one time or another, many of us have felt as if we've fallen into a pit. A couple of years ago, I was in a particularly deep one.
Circumstances had led me to believe that I was no longer a valuable employee, that my work was not worthy, and that I had spent recent years toiling in vain. I spiraled down into gloom quite quickly.
I dismissed the offers of encouragement from my husband and close friends, knowing they didn't understand just how bad things were. One friend who called was particularly persistent, despite my rebuffs. At one point I said, "Look, I'm in a deep muddy pit, and if I try to get out, I'll only slide back in."
She then told me a story from the Bible that began to soften my hardened heart.
There was a time when the prophet Jeremiah was put into a dungeon and left to die. The account in the Bible says he was without food or water and that he "sunk in the mire." Some servants then pulled him to safety, using cords and rags. (See Jeremiah, chapter 38.)
My friend asked, "Will you let this servant help this prophet out of the pit?"
At first it felt absurd to me to be called a prophet, particularly given my emotional state. I didn't feel like a prophet even when I was feeling good, let alone then.
But her question touched me. It was a glimmer of hope in the darkness. I responded with something like "Good luck." But it made me listen further, and I began to feel the love behind her words. I was also moved by her persistence and deep desire to help. She was going to pray for me.
We talked the next day about life-work in general. She told me that one of the reasons Jesus is still revered 2,000 years later – why his life is still so influential today – is that he always held to what was true, no matter what was going on around him. He didn't let circumstances shake his understanding of what he knew of God and His creation. And to her, that's what success in life was about.
This insight resonated with me. All the worldly accomplishments that could be achieved in a life could never be as significant as holding to what is true, what is of God, in the midst of whatever is going on around you.
Holding to what's true is something I knew I had done in the past and could continue to do. And if that's what really mattered, I could certainly live a purposeful and meaningful life.
I was beginning to see more light. And by the next day, I had been lifted out of the pit.
As I thought more about my desire to follow Jesus' example, I was further motivated by this call to action by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science: "It is possible, – yea, it is the duty and privilege of every child, man, and woman, – to follow in some degree the example of the Master by the demonstration of Truth and Life, of health and holiness" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 37).
I saw that I could work to live this kind of life regardless of my particular duties in my job and regardless of whether others thought my work was valuable.
Meanwhile, my assessment of how my work was being perceived and of the appropriateness of the duties I was being given adjusted in a positive way. I no longer felt unworthy or that my work was in vain.
I look back on this experience as a divine rescue from sorrow. It's remarkable to me how it happened – so quickly and with several people's love and support playing an important part. I see now what I couldn't see then: Each one of them was fulfilling their role in my needs, too – to love, no matter what they were seeing. They held true to who they knew I was.
What saved me was the very activity that I wanted to commit to – holding to what's true. It can make all the difference.