My time to be creative had come. I looked forward to it and dreaded it at the same time.
A year earlier I’d worked with a friend on an inspirational program that demanded creativity; and this time, I had to do it by myself. I admired her so much – she was capable, articulate, and, most of all, creative. But admiration quickly turned to jealousy as that awful thought – “I’m not as creative as she is” – kept repeating itself. I thought I could never measure up. I tried to tell myself that I had contributed in my own way, so I shouldn’t feel afraid. But I wasn’t making a dent in overcoming the fear. Bottom line: Working on my own felt terrifying and intimidating.
So I decided to pray to find a way out of this paralyzing fear. Praying when I feel stuck is something I’m used to doing. Leaning on and listening to God for answers helps me move forward.
It was hard to get quiet enough to hear God’s direction and feel His comfort. I remembered Jesus’ instructions about praying – to go into your “closet” and shut the door (see Matthew 6:6). I thought of the closet as a quiet mental place where I could get away from the assault of negative thoughts and fears, and hear God.
In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote: “The closet typifies the sanctuary of Spirit, the door of which shuts out sinful sense but lets in Truth, Life, and Love.... To enter into the heart of prayer, the door of the erring senses must be closed. Lips must be mute and materialism silent, that man may have audience with Spirit, the divine Principle, Love, which destroys all error” (p. 15).
One of the first things I realized when I turned all my attention to God was that I had a choice: to keep listening to the fear and distractions, or to turn away from them and listen to God. The fear was making my life miserable, so I chose to listen for God’s messages.
I hear these divine messages in different ways. Sometimes I feel God’s presence and hear His direction by getting an intuition; sometimes I receive an idea; and sometimes I just feel more of God’s love and comfort reassuring me there is an answer, a way forward.
The tumult in my thought began to dissipate, and I heard a message: “I’m not asking you to be like your friend. I am only asking you to give what you have to give – period.” I knew this was God’s message because I immediately felt more peace. Deep down I always knew that God, Love, never pressures me into trying to be like someone else. But I needed to be reminded. What a relief!
As I embraced this simple and profound message “to give what I had to give,” the fear vanished. I felt free, like myself again.
God made each of us with something good and beautiful to give. No one is left out. The grip of fear can have us believing that we’re deficient, unworthy, not talented enough. Believing those thoughts can convince us that we don’t have something important to give – that we don’t matter. If those thoughts aren’t detected and rejected, we may find ourselves running away from our mission, feeling depressed, or refusing even to try to give our best.
I’m comforted to realize that the only thing God is asking me to do is to give my best, my all. The Bible says: “Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have” (II Corinthians 8:11, 12, New Living Translation).
Jesus’ parable of the talents teaches the lesson of being willing to give what we have to give (see Matthew 25:14-30, New King James version). This parable encourages us to have the humility to use our gifts, no matter how big or small.
The story begins with a man delegating responsibilities to his servants. He gives one servant five talents (an amount of money). To another he gives two, and to another, one.
The first two servants double their investments, and their master is pleased: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” he says. “You were faithful over a few things; I will make you ruler over many things.”
But the man who received one talent hid it in the ground. His master is angry and says that the talent should be taken away from him and given to the servant who has 10 talents.
Why did the servant with only one talent bury it in the ground? He was afraid. And that’s how I had been manipulated – by fear of failure, of not being talented enough, of not being as good as someone else.
Mrs. Eddy wrote: “In order to apprehend more, we must put into practice what we already know.... If ‘faithful over a few things,’ we shall be made rulers over many; but the one unused talent decays and is lost” (Science and Health, p. 323).
As I was willing to go forward and focus on what I was being asked to give – rather than being distracted by the past or by comparing myself to another person – the program turned out to be full of joy, inspiration, and creativity.
Willingness to use the talents we have not only satisfies our own hearts but blesses the world.