When you're left off the list
Whenever awards are in the air – most recently it was the Academy Awards – I get to thinking back to a few years ago when I learned something about recognition.
As a screenwriter, I was occasionally part of an arbitration process to determine screen credits. One time, after being left off the list, I felt discouraged and unappreciated.
I knew I needed a more expansive view of things. So I called a friend who is a Christian Science practitioner.
In the middle of my discouraged retelling of events, he broke into my soliloquy and said simply, "Your name is written in heaven."
I didn't know what he was talking about, other than recognizing it as paraphrased from the Bible.
But a moment later – almost in the twinkling of an eye – the words hit me with a bolt of spiritual lightning. This didn't feel like a convenient glossing over of the issue but an opportunity to take a bold look at the truth of who I was in God's eyes.
That afternoon, I looked up the passage in Luke, where the exact words are: "Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven" (10:20). That expanded the idea even further, because use of the plural "names" made me realize I could embrace the other writers – those who hadn't and those who had received screen credit. We were all in God's embrace. And Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science, confirms this: "Heaven is not a locality, but a divine state of Mind..." ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," p. 291).
My worth had already been established by our Creator. It was as if a light had been shone on where I had been looking for credit all along – more important, where I had been looking for my self-esteem.
I didn't realize what an impact that experience would have over the years. It not only helped during the rest of my career, but continues to be a vital healing force in my daily life whenever I think I am being slighted or unacknowledged.
Not long ago, my teenager had an English assignment to write a paper on a person in her life whom she greatly admired. At dinner that night she said glumly that she couldn't think of anybody. "I'm totally stumped," she offered up across the table.
Those old familiar thoughts came – as a single mother, I felt I'd done lots for my daughter, and in that moment I have to admit to thinking, "Would that be so hard to think of somebody? What about me?" When I went to bed, I quietly went to prayer, as I often do.
It was then that the practitioner's comment came to me: "Your name is written in heaven."
Of course! God already knew everything there is to know about me. As His child, His idea, I was whole and complete, lacking nothing – there wasn't "less" of me because I wasn't being patted on the back by someone else or my supposedly sterling traits weren't being put down on paper by a daughter who I knew loved me very much.
A couple of days later she was in her room enthusiastically writing her paper. No, I wasn't the subject. It was a teacher she'd had in elementary school, somebody she had often sought out at recess when she felt like an outsider on the playground, somebody who would regale her with tales of his climbing adventures in the Himalayas.
That man exhibited so many spiritual qualities that I – and clearly my daughter – so much appreciated. Loyalty, kindness, humor – and a love of inclusion. Inclusion – that's what heaven is, because it includes everybody.
And though awards and acknowledgements are nice, I know where my real "credit" lies. And it's nonnegotiable. As God's beloved child, each of us is loved, valued, and unceasingly appreciated – for all time.