Gratitude for … tests?

Finals week: fall semester, junior year. I had tests in biology, math, Advanced Placement (AP) English and United States history, as well as my hardest class, Spanish 4 Honors. I was feeling very stressed and unhappy. The work was totally overwhelming. I had hundreds of textbook pages to review, vocabulary and tenses to memorize for Spanish, not to mention an out-of-class essay due for English. This wasn’t any fun at all.

I knew I needed to get into a better frame of mind. In my gloomy and overwhelmed state, I couldn’t focus on any of my work and was unable to get any studying done. 

Through previous experiences, I knew that I could find comfort in the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. In the past, when I’d needed healing, I’d turned to them and found immediate help. So that’s where I turned again. 

In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy poses a question that really stood out to me: “Are we really grateful for the good already received?” (p. 3). 

I realized that I was not being grateful at all, but self-absorbed. By focusing only on my own problems, I couldn’t appreciate all the good around me. 

Gratitude was all I could feel. What was there to be ungrateful about? 

In the Bible in the book of Genesis it says that “God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (1:31). I realized that if God’s creation, His kingdom, is completely good, and that kingdom is where I live, then gratitude was all I could feel. What was there to be ungrateful about?

With this realization, that everything in God’s kingdom expresses good, my thought completely shifted. Instead of being focused on myself, I was filled with a recognition of the good around me, and with gratitude for that good. I thought about all of the help I’d received from my teachers and my friends. I saw that as evidence of God’s love for me. I was grateful for the intelligence that I was able to demonstrate in my experience; I knew that intelligence was a quality of God, who is divine Mind, and that God reflected it in me. I realized that even the tests themselves were good and something to be grateful for. They were an opportunity to demonstrate intelligence, freedom, discipline, and joy. I knew that I could express only Mind’s understanding and Spirit’s clarity, which left no room for doubt or stress. 

This mental shift from self to the understanding of God’s goodness as ever present changed my attitude and I quickly became more joyful. I was able to experience a little of what this hymn expresses:

A grateful heart a garden is, 
Where there is always room 
For every lovely, Godlike grace 
To come to perfect bloom.

(Ethel Wasgatt Dennis, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 3, © CSBD)

I was seeing that if you are able to fill your thought and heart with gratitude, and recognize the allness of good, then it’s natural that happiness will follow.

That week of finals was a success, despite the previous stress and unhappiness. Instead of nerves and doubt, I felt calm confidence. Now, with spring semester finals approaching, I don’t feel freaked out or stressed at all. The tangible feeling of the allness of good has stayed with me, and I’m going into my tests happy and grateful.

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