The beginning of a new year can inspire a feeling of renewal and a readiness to get things done. We might vow to tackle household projects we’ve put off, to work harder at our jobs or at school, or to get in better shape physically.
I like to make lists of the things I plan to do, and I always feel accomplished as I cross off each task and move on to the next. Not long ago, however, I was adding jobs to my list faster than I could cross them off. Time constraints and limited resources left me feeling overwhelmed and helpless.
As the pressure and stress mounted, I decided I needed to forget my list for a moment – I wasn’t getting anything accomplished anyway! – and pray. For me, praying often begins with putting aside my worries and plans and letting my thought be quiet. Then I can listen for direction from God, who I understand as the universal Mind that expresses intelligence, order, and clarity in its spiritual creation, which includes each one of us.
Very soon a question came to my thought: What if all I had to do today was to love? This wasn’t what I’d expected. Actually, I had kind of hoped my prayer would lead me to some practical ideas about how to get everything done. Still, I did find this to be a very freeing thought, so I began to really consider it.
I remembered that once when Christ Jesus was asked what the most important law was, he answered by citing two commandments from the Hebrew Scriptures: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself’ ” (Matthew 22:37-39, Eugene Peterson, “The Message”).
I thought, How do I make this kind of love my first priority? I can start by gratefully and humbly acknowledging God as infinite Love and the source of all the love we express, then check my thoughts and actions throughout the day to be sure they are guided by Love.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “Love for God and man is the true incentive in both healing and teaching. Love inspires, illumines, designates, and leads the way” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 454).
After spending some time giving gratitude to God and praying to better see that all of God’s children are embraced in His infinite love, I returned to my list of jobs. I found that I was able to calmly and confidently take care of each one, having just the time and resources I needed.
What better way to begin a new year and the new activities and duties that come with it than to realize that loving God and humanity best guides our thoughts and actions, even as we make our lists and proceed to do what’s needed.