We might think it’s inevitable that a demanding schedule will leave us feeling burned out, but today’s contributor explores the quality of grace and how it can transform our approach to each day.
Where I live, it’s that time of year again: High school and college students are busy plotting their academic and extracurricular schedules. Parents with school-aged kids are charting their complex work/school/day care/sports calendars with what seems like the expertise of NASA flight engineers!
For many, the whirl of work, school, and family life can seem overwhelming at times. While some feel they more or less can stay on top of things, some risk borderline burnout by the end of each week. Still others may feel inadequate and wryly quip: “I’m great at multitasking. I can waste time, be unproductive, and procrastinate all at once.”
Being busy is not inherently wrong, but is there something that can temper busyness? How can we let each day “flow” rather than “whirl”? How can we be more productive but keep our sense of peace and well-being?
The answer, I’ve found, is grace. Grace is the oil that makes everything flow smoothly and gently. And from my own experience, I’ve learned that having a graceful flow to the day doesn’t come from just being more relaxed or having a laid-back attitude. It’s about understanding where grace as a spiritual quality comes from.
Grace is a wholly divine impetus, flowing from God to each of us. It includes intelligence, wisdom, order, and tenderness. In reality, none of us can really lack grace, because as the offspring of God, divine Love, we reflect the divine nature and have inherited grace as part of our true, spiritual identity, made in the image and likeness of God. This profound concept, that our genuine nature is Godlike, stems from the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible, where God “saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (verse 31).
A grace-filled thought isn’t dominated by self-will; rather, it acknowledges and yields to the divine will, which is always good. Grace is flexible, but not unprincipled. Grace surrenders fear and worry to the spiritual understanding that the one infinite God alone is at the helm each day, and so there can’t be any other competing power or presence. Through my study of Christian Science, giving me a better understanding of man’s real nature and identity as God’s child, I’ve come to know that we are simply reflections of God’s all-intelligent control.
This expanded view of God and our relation to Him has deepened my trust in God’s gracious government, helping me to have faith even when moments seem stressful or burdensome. I like to think about the idea, often used in the Bible, of “waiting” on God. Waiting gracefully on God is not standing idle – it’s a state of receptivity, stillness of thought, preparedness to listen for spiritual intuitions – and it involves prayer. I make judgment calls virtually every moment each day – we all do – prioritizing, scheduling, weighing one plan of action against another. As I’ve practiced waiting on God, it has helped me feel more equipped for the daily demand of decisionmaking, and more confident in the path I choose.
For instance, I have found that a task may be desirable at first glance, but then I might get the feeling that it’s not the right time for it. Or, some chore may be on my to-do list, but then I perceive it’s not really necessary just then. If I feel resistant toward giving up what I had planned on doing for something else I hadn’t considered, grace helps me recognize this error of thought and then pursue whatever right thing I feel guided by God to do. In just these ways, I can rest assured that God is helping me make wise and ordered decisions for that day, helping things flow smoothly. The more I prayerfully listen for divine guidance and yield to God’s plan for each day, the more evidence I see of harmony, order, and progress all around me. Grace makes me more gracious, too, keeping thought looking outward toward others, so that I can be of greater help when needed.
Fortunately, expressing grace is not “one more thing” to add to our day! Instead, grace transforms our day. Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper in 1908 and accomplished remarkable things in publishing and religious reform, especially for a woman in her day, once wrote: “Every human thought must turn instinctively to the divine Mind as its sole centre and intelligence” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” pp. 307-308). As we actively turn to the divine Mind and make room for grace in our lives, we’ll begin to feel the order and peace that flow from the one Mind, our heavenly Father. With God, the infinite source of all grace, guiding us, each day can be wonderful.