Through my work in the healing ministry I often get the opportunity to talk with college students and recent grads. At this point in life (as well as perhaps many times throughout our lives) there is the question of what’s next? It seems that with this question, there comes with it a lot of worry or fear about finding one’s right place including – right employment and place to live. Sometimes this fear can lead us to some self-focused thinking, and a lot of “I” statements and questions…
- I want “x”… and I don’t want “y”.
- What can I get out of this job or what can I gain from it?
- How much will I make?
- What’s in it for me?
In these conversations, I’ve sometimes been lead to pose the question – “Have you thought about it this way perhaps – “how can I be a blessing?”” In other words, how can I best serve… God, my fellow man, my community, the world, etc.?
Often I find a light goes off for the person I’m chatting with… you can see the light break across their face and a weigh lift of their shoulders. Sometimes I’ve been met with the response – “Wow, I never thought of it that way.” Or “Hmmm, you know, I’ve really only been thinking about what’s in it for me, but that’s a good way to look at it.”
I found in one case, when the person and I chatted a week later, new possibilities were unfolding in a harmonious way that had not been there before or hadn’t been considered. And when one considers how one can be a blessing, then thought opens to new possibilities and ideas and a willingness to consider options that at face value may not seem in line with personal benefit. But the thing is, when we are willing to be a blessing, we cannot help but be blessed in return – as Mary Baker Eddy puts it:
“…whatever blesses one blesses all…”Science and heatlh with key to the scriptures
This was certainly the case when I lead a study abroad program in New Zealand with a group of college students. One of our goals of the trip was to be a blessing wherever we went. We found that in doing so, our thought was more open and aware of the people around us, and not so inward or self-focused. It allowed us to engage with others without thinking about what we might get in return. But the result was that people were more open with us and willing to share of themselves, and how can we not be blessed by that sharing?
In another instanced, I was helping a friend, who was moving back to the US from another country and needed to sell her car. We talked about how the car had been a blessing to her and her family and would be a blessing to the next family, and that seeing it as a blessing to be share rather than a mere transaction to get done and checked off the moving to-do list, we would see the situation unfold harmoniously. Well, it was getting down to the wire, time-wise, but we persisted in knowing the car would bless someone else. One night, just a few days before departing, there was a big storm that brought down trees and branches. The next day, we got a response to the add. A family was very much in need of a new car, because theirs had been crushed by a falling tree in the storm. My friend’s car was a perfect fit for this family’s needs. And in fact, the woman who was interested in purchasing the car said her father had worked overseas when they had been growing up and she was aware of all that needed to happen in a move such as my friend was doing. The woman offered to take the car “as is” without my friend getting it cleaned and “detailed”, as she had planned to do upon sale, for a slight reduction in the cost. It was certainly a blessing all the way around because it freed up much needed time on our end as well. The woman also offered to let us keep the car a couple more days, right up until the night before we were all headed to the airport. It all couldn’t have worked out more perfectly if we had planned it, and in fact even better than we had imagined, and everyone was blessed by the entire situation.
So how can you make decisions based on being a blessing or seeing the blessings all around you? And how are you going to be a blessing to those around you today?
Do you wonder what the future holds for you? Do you every wish you had a crystal ball and could see how it all turns out? I certainly do sometimes… I think we all do at one time or another…certainly when we’re going through a challenge whether it is trying to figure out what’s next in life – jobs, relationships, location, home… or dealing with some form of sickness that seems scary and just wanting to know we will be OK…
I’ve heard people say, “I just want “this” (sickness, challenging situation, sense of lack or loss) to go away. I want healing to come… and I just want to know when and how it will all work out.”
I too have experienced this at times…. This morning I was thinking about the statement from the Bible from the book of Isaiah
… to know the end from the beginning…
and that God knows the future, not only because God is the all-knowing, infinite Mind, but because God knows the present, and is always in the eternal now. This ties in with what is stated in Jeremiah –
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
What does it mean to know the end from the beginning? Well, we know that the Bible tells us in Genesis (which means beginning), that it states “In the beginning God…”in fact, this is the opening line of the whole book, the entire story. And God create man, and everything else, and states that is all “very good.” In fact, God doesn’t declare that it is all VERY good, until the last verse of Chapter 1… not until everything was create and all working together harmoniously.
“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…”
So, I think that because God created man and the universe and it was/is all very good… and because God is All and Eternal and unchanging, doesn’t it stand to reason that the end will also be very good, as will all the middle bits…? But how? Well, God is good, and only knows good… and it is just a matter of us waking up and tuning into what God is telling us each moment, that we can experience this goodness for ourselves. In Malachi it states And in Malachi –
…prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
So the good and the blessings are abundant and constant and consistent and never-ending. As Mary Baker Eddy states in her text Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,
“God is not moved by the breath of praise to do more than He has already done, nor can the infinite do less than bestow all good, since He is unchanging wisdom and Love.”
I’m often tempted to think, but what if…? And when I remember, I try to replace that “what if” with “what is”… What is true about God, good, and me and my life as the image and likeness, or reflection of God, good. What is true of God, who is Love, as we learn in the New Testament… and me, who is loved, cherished, adored and cared for unconditionally, as Her beloved child?
I started thinking about all of this because I was reflecting back on a time when I started watching a TV show… it was a real suspense, thriller, action type of show… it’s one of those shows where it’s almost arbitrary where one episode ends and the next starts because it’s constant action and they just pick up exactly where they leave off and always with a cliff hanger about what’s about to happen next. And because it’s on Netflix, one episode came after another and suddenly a good bit of time had gone by and I got completely sucked in for a little while…
I find I’m one of those people that gets really into a book or movie or show, so I’m usually more careful and choosy about what I read or watch, because it tends to stick with me a bit. Lately I haven’t really watched this kind of show because I don’t like those images or feelings to linger in my thought afterwards… (I used to love the crime dramas, but I’m more of a Great British Baking Show or World of Dance kinda person now… though every now and then one of those suspense shows will peak my interest and I’ll give it a try for a bit…
Well, in this case, I found that after watching the show for a little while one night, I ended up dreaming about it and awakening before my alarm the next morning. I couldn’t shake the desire to see what happens next or find out how it all turns out… I was actually afraid for the main character and her friends…
But what I wanted even more at that moment was I actually really wanted to just stop thinking about it all together and focus on my day… and focus my thought on God and prayer… but I couldn’t seem to break the mesmerism. And that’s exactly what it was… mesmerism.
I realized this was the same kind of mesmerism that had a hold of my thought about a physical challenge that I had been working through. It seemed like a scary one… and I found myself wanting to know how it was all going to turn out for my life and my health… much like the show. I was afraid… and sometimes would think about others I had known who had similar symptoms… or what I had read about, seen advertised or even seen in shows I had watched in the past, where it never seemed to turn out very well in the end for the people who had these symptoms.
Well, to deal with breaking the mesmerism of this silly TV show… I decided to skip to the end. I read the brief synopsis of the final episode of the season and it said they would reveal who was behind all the evil stuff going on. So, I watched the first five minutes. That’s all it took. I found out who was behind it, realized that of course the good guys would win… and that was the end of it. The mesmerism was completely broken… shattered, even. My interest in the show what gone, and I was free. I was able to focus on my prayers and my daily work. But it got me thinking in a new way…
What if I knew the end of this physical “suspense drama”? Would I no longer be afraid? Would I see it for the unreality that it was? How could I find out how it ends? How could I really know…? And that’s when the verse from Isaiah came to thought. But I DO know, I reasoned. Because God is All, unchanging Good… that IS true right now and always… and because God created me, in Her image and likeness, I can only be good, and filled with goodness, right now and always. And God wants only good for me, provides only good for me, sustains me with that goodness… as a friend once said, “every part of us was created to glorify God”… so there could never be any part of me that is not good, holy, pure, true… not now, not ever. And with that the mesmerism and fear broke… and I was then better able to pray and hear more clearly the messages God was sending… messages of love… messages that said,
“I love you, I have always loved you, I will always love you, you are my beloved and all will be well, for all IS well.”
The Bible – Isaiah 46:10
The Bible – Jeremiah 29:11
The Bible – Genesis 1:1
The Bible – Genesis 1:31
The Bible – Malachi 3:10
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy p. 2
I was recently reflecting on a favorite Bible passage and how to apply it directly to my thoughts and actions… perhaps it will be helpful to you as well as we begin this new year with a fresh start and fresh thinking.
For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.Jeremiah 29:11
Other Translations say I know the plans I have for you… And they say for welfare, well-being, prosperity, goodness not of evil, harm, calamity, disaster… And they go on to say “to give you a future and a hope.”
I started to think about this wonderful passage from the Bible and how much peace it brings to my thought. I also started to think about how Mary Baker Eddy, in one of my favorite books, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, shared with us the idea that God is infinite, divine Mind… And given that we are created in God’s image and likeness, we reflect that one Mind.
So we can thereby reason that we can only have thoughts of peace and hope and prosperity and goodness. I started to think about what if we said this to ourselves and others…
“I know the thoughts I think towards you, thoughts of peace and not of evil… To bring you a sense of hope.”
What if those were the only kind of thoughts we thought about ourselves… Peaceful thoughts filled with goodness that lead to hope rather than the negative loop of self-condemnation or fear and doubt… The constant comparing with others either puffing ourselves up or cutting ourselves down when we compare where we are in life to where others are… The constant criticism or condemning of ourselves and/or others …the endless loop of complaints or pessimistic or negative thinking.
It seems between like between the media and social media there are many temptations to continuously fill our thoughts with negative or fear-based thoughts either towards ourselves or others. Thoughts like “we/they are not good enough, not worthy, don’t belong…”
What if we consider our thinking about others friends, peers, siblings, parents, children, coworkers, maybe even or seeming enemies or those on the other side of politics from us… What if instead of thoughts of negativity, harm, disaster, calamity or any form of evil thinking… We thought only thoughts of peace, goodness and hope towards them. Wouldn’t that fill our thought with those ideas thereby uplifting us and our own thinking. Wouldn’t that fill us and thereby our day and future with hope and goodness and a sense of peace?