An inspiring weekend helps this college freshman get with her true calling and what it means to trust God with her life plans. “How do you make God laugh? You tell God your plans.”
I’d always heard that joke growing up, but I never took it seriously. I’d giggle and quickly brush it off. But oh, how relevant it is to my life today.
Let me begin by admitting that, spoken aloud, my dreams make me sound like a rather determined six-year-old who is sputtering off a list of catchy job titles to a teacher during Show and Tell: I am going to be a writer. I am also going to act and create an awesome television series, helping to resurrect the failing sitcom. I will graduate from college, join the Peace Corps, and attend a top-notch graduate school for communications or creative writing. And, I will do all of this with Broadway pizzazz.
Except I am not six. I’m a freshman in college, and those are my actual dreams. I share them with professors who ask what I want to become and to mentoring adults who wish to offer me guidance. But sometimes their responses are too brutal: “You’re no longer a kid, Leah. Can you really attain all of this?”
“The job market is awful.” “You’d better start sending out stories to contacts right now.” “You and all the other English majors out there want the same things.”
I realize some of these comments are meant to help. But who says I can’t attain my dreams? I have a plan! So, slightly discouraged, I’ve often let doubt pervade my thoughts, and I sulk off somewhere to reevaluate what I want in life.
Flash forward, away from “Debbie Downer” dialogues, to the recent TMC Youth Spiritual Activist Summit in New York City, held in April. It was a weekend full of lectures, workshops, concerts, attended by hundreds of other young Christian Scientists, all expressing their common love and excitement about this uplifting and supportive religion and way of life, Christian Science. This summit was my Jonah-being-delivered-from-the-whale moment; this was a rod becoming a snake; this was manna falling from the sky.
Filled with immense pressure and fear that my dreams were unrealistic, and that I’d end up destitute, jobless and poor, I entered the Summit with a few months’ baggage, worrying about my future. Funny—or rather, perfect—that the first lecture I went to was on finding your calling and changing the world. Without going into the specifics of this excellent talk, I will point to a few elements I picked up, ideas that would revolutionize the way I was, and am, pursuing my dreams.
We began by writing down the qualities that described who we are as individuals—OK, easy enough; I’d done that in Sunday School—and then, from those qualities, extrapolating ways we could express them. Then this process was reversed, taking things we loved doing—for me, creating, acting, writing—and exploring the qualities that comprised them. For example, writing is an expression of creativity, of love, of wishing to help people throughout the world with the written word.
I’d been planning to pursue a career I was determined was my calling—to write and act. I’d gone to college, joined clubs, and pursued internships that all fit nicely and built on this goal. And up until now, Christian Science had been a semi-support system along the way. I was used to saying,
“To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings”
, as a kind of mantra as I walked from class to class. 1 What I failed to realize was that everything I was trying to attain had been approached from a human, material standpoint. No more was my calling simply to be a writer or an actor—I was realizing those were just labels.
I’d been looking at my career path backwards and needed to reverse my thought: What spiritual qualities fulfill me, and how can those be expressed? Is writing the only way to express creativity? Is acting the only way I can attain joy? My true calling is to be an expression of God, and so long as I am expressing Love or Life or any other synonym for God, I am virtually “clad in the panoply of Love” 2, unable to be harmed by the tempestuous and erroneous thoughts of financial instability and trying to be in total control of my own life plans.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Starting from a higher standpoint, one rises spontaneously, even as light emits light without effort; for ‘where your treasure is, there will your heart also’ “. 3 If I based my job in spirituality, started my calling from a higher standpoint, not one based on ego and self-speculation of worth, the opportunities I would find would be boundless. I couldn’t be penalized for expressing God, for multiplying my God-given talents. I’d been accepting the idea that writers make no money, and had been basing my sense of security on the dollar! But the 91st Psalm states that “in him will I trust…. Thou shalt not be afraid”. 4
If my joy and my love in life come from creativity, I will find a way of being creative. “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”. 5 As long as I’m pursuing the qualities I love, I will be blessed and kept safe from harm.
If I let go of my material drive for success and willingly accept and believe that “a man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” 6 , I need not fear discouragement, or failure in not finding what I deem the perfect job. I will be encouraged and motivated with the renewed faith that my talents can be expressed in innumerable ways.
In giving a prayerful treatment one usually starts with the cause of all things, God. Why hadn’t I applied this to my goals in life? Mary Baker Eddy wrote,
“To begin rightly is to end rightly”
. 7 If I begin with love as the leading force of what I do, and hold fast to the knowledge that I am a creative expression of God, I won’t fear for my future, but embrace it. I won’t be penalized for choosing writing, but I also shouldn’t pigeonhole myself to a particular “Leah-designed” path either.
With the social pressures suddenly melting away from me, within one day, I literally encountered an unexpected opportunity to trust God’s plan for me!
I’d been waiting to hear about a summer internship from a publishing company in New York City, but an opportunity to travel overseas and teach young children began to unfold. The final plan isn’t yet in place, and so as not to “make God laugh,” I gladly let go of my own plans, accepting that my calling is not something I can determine, but something I can discover through the expression of divine Love.
From the May 2010 edition of The Christian Science Sentinel
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Topics: Anxiety | Tags: Aha moments