One time my daughter and I traveled to Los Angeles so she could participate in a week-long international acting conference. As the trip drew closer, I became more and more apprehensive. Was this really the right thing to do? What would it be like in LA?
Whenever I feel conflicted or confused, I turn to God, the divine Father-Mother of each of us, for answers. So I reached for my Bible. This holy book promises, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5, 6). And further on it says, “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Proverbs 16:3).
I realized I could trust God. While this helped, I still wasn’t completely at peace. But it was time to go.
When we arrived in LA, I was thrilled to find a Christian Science Reading Room in the hotel where we were staying. To me, a Reading Room has always been more than a religious bookstore or library. It is a welcoming sanctuary – a quiet oasis where anyone can go to commune with God and find healing and peace.
On the first day, while my daughter was at a workshop, I stopped in. I explained to the attendant how unsettled I felt. She recommended a pamphlet of some Christian Science articles that focused on the topic of “place.”
It was not a subject that I thought would help, but as I read, I knew this was just what I needed. One idea that jumped out at me was that each of us can occupy only the place prepared for us by God. And each of us has a special place already prepared for us at this very moment – not as mortals with a particular job but as God’s spiritual offspring, the very expression of His intelligence and love. There can be no competition for “our” spot in the divine order. We don’t have to wish, hope, fight, or strive for that place.
Understanding something of this spiritual reality makes a difference in our daily experience. When we listen for God’s inspiration, we find that not only is good waiting for us wherever we go, but we can also help others by being there. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes in “Retrospection and Introspection,” “Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity” (p. 70).
A poem I read titled “Father, You lead” was also particularly meaningful to me. It begins:
Where would You have me, my Father-Mother God?
How would You lead Your child?
What way have You prepared?
Father, You lead.
(Norman H. Williams, “Christian Science Sentinel,” June 22, 1981)
I left the Reading Room that day with a beautiful sense of peace. I also felt a profound sense of unity with all of the conference attendees. God doesn’t watch over just some people. God is the sole creator of all and cares for each of His precious children.
These ideas took away the feeling I’d been troubled by: the feeling that only a chosen few conference participants would have any opportunities. This was replaced with a sincere trust that God is guiding everyone. All we have to do is surrender any preconceived thoughts of where that should lead and humbly listen to God.
During the week, as I talked with many other parents of children from around the world, we found that we all shared similar concerns about the week and our children’s futures. Sometimes I shared a bit of what I had grasped in the Reading Room that first day. I even shared a copy of the pamphlet with one mother. Every day when I saw her after that, she would hold up the pamphlet to show me she was carrying it with her!
Every day I felt a sense of support, camaraderie, tenderness, and love expressed by the group. Even the conference moderator commented that this had been one of the most harmonious and loving groups that she had ever had the opportunity to work with.
Was my daughter “discovered”? Not in the actor sense of that word. But we both discovered a deeper understanding of our relation to God as well as a greater sense of place, purpose, and peace that comes from knowing that God has prepared a place for each one of us where we can bloom, grow, and help others. There is no competition for that.