The blessings of blessing
Three years into college, I quit school to try to figure out my life. I made endless lists of things I could do: travel, pursue a career in dance, earn some money. These were a few of many options. As hard as I tried to reason through each possibility, I just couldn’t come up with “the answer.” Nothing felt exactly right.
Finally I thought praying about it might be a plan. I had learned through a study of Christian Science that God was there, always. When I found myself in trouble, turning away from the struggle du jour and instead opening my thought to the divine presence, or God, brought answers every time. After all, the perspective of infinite Mind, God, was certainly way more expansive than my own limited view.
I sat down and in semi-desperation said: “OK, I give. God, where do You want me? Where can I bless the most?” Before, my thoughts had been focused on what I wanted to do. But I saw that to hear the answer that would allow me to be the biggest blessing, I had to be willing to give up my own will in the spirit of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done” (Matthew 6:10).
Once I relinquished my will by letting go of my own ideas, the answer was instant: Return to school. “What?” I thought. “Really?” This was not one of my carefully thought-through options, nor was it something I wanted to do. And besides, to go back would be problematic. I had not officially withdrawn from college; I had simply stopped attending classes. It seemed highly unlikely that I could just show up and register.
In semi-desperation I said: “God, where do You want me? Where can I bless the most?”
I was obedient to the divine directive, however, and was astonished to find my registration packet waiting for me as if I hadn’t been away for a whole year.
That proved to be one of the more important decisions I’ve ever made, because it set my life on a path that has been progressively satisfying and joyous. The ensuing blessings are a constant reminder that to go forward in any situation, I need to let go of my own sense of what I want and simply ask God where I can bless.
The desire to bless others is more natural to us than we might think, because unselfishness is part of our God-given identity. This might sound like a bold claim, since fear of the future, doubts about our ability to perform work effectively, even everyday busyness can keep our focus, well … on ourselves. But because God created us to reflect Him, and God is Love, it follows that our very identity includes the activity of Love being expressed.
This activity of Love, expressed in us as selfless love and a caring heart, brings huge benefits, as Mary Baker Eddy explained in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures when she wrote, “… blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good” (p. 518).
Mrs. Eddy’s words offer both a promise and a recipe for blessing and being blessed. The desire to bless others has enormous healing potential for all humanity. Just think: As each of us responds to this desire by thinking and acting unselfishly, the world is blessed in incalculable ways. The heart that yearns to help others, and to make the world a better place, is a heart perfectly positioned to receive Mind’s guidance as to how this can be done.
So then what can we do when our own concerns overwhelm us, or our thoughts seem filled with self? The first step is to cultivate a desire to grow and to ask our Father-Mother for what we actually need. The real need may be to focus less on our problems and to pray for others. Whatever it is, the all-knowing and all-loving Mind knows our need and supplies it.
If we need guidance, we’ve got it. Higher motives? They’re ours to adopt. Courage? God-given for us to express. Opportunities? God-provided for us to discover. Through daily prayer, we’ll discern more clearly that our oh-so-loving God is always present and able, by virtue of His allness, to equip us with whatever is necessary.
The desire to bless others is part of our God-given identity.
I saw this firsthand when I returned to college and it was a completely different experience. God showed me that because I expressed Him, I had the intelligence first to change my major and then to excel academically in my new field. (I was practically flunking out when I’d quit before.) Classes became joyous instead of tedious. And here was another good result of listening to God: If I hadn’t gone back, I wouldn’t have met my husband. The list goes on.
Putting into practice the action of thinking about others, and not just ourselves, has big implications for our daily lives as well. Each time we express love for another, we are bringing into human view a glimpse of the Divine. When we “seek our own in another’s good,” we are doing more than just expressing kindness. We are actually being embraced and motivated by God’s love. Living this way, being engaged at a heartfelt level of unselfed love, brings joy, satisfaction, and the peace that comes from putting into practice who we really are.
One time I asked the oldest class in our Sunday School what single thing in their lives made them the happiest. Instead of mentioning compliments from boyfriends or girlfriends, or academic achievements, one after another they related doing something for someone else. Hearing them speak so honestly of their lives reminded me of a passage of Mrs. Eddy’s that answers the question of how are we blessed by putting others in front of ourselves. She writes, “Whatever holds human thought in line with unselfed love, receives directly the divine power” (Science and Health, p. 192). When we feel this active presence of God’s love, equipping us with divine power, we are inspired to continue loving others, rather than allowing our thoughts to turn inward.
This brings healing in our own lives, as well as helping to lift the world into its God-promised peace. As we seek our own “in another’s good,” not only will we bless, but we’ll also be blessed in incredible ways.