No lost opportunities where God guides
I never experienced any loss from my decision to stay home with my children.
For some time now, women (and more and more men), have been feeling they must choose between being a stay-at-home parent and pursuing a career. While many women prefer to continue working at least part time once children arrive, some feel they have no choice. But increasing demands on family life during the global pandemic reportedly caused an exodus of women from the workforce.
There is much talk of how people can lose out on career opportunities and income when they decide to stay home to raise children. The argument is that once you step out of the business environment, you have lost your place on the upward ladder and may never regain it. But this does not have to be the case for anyone.
Many years ago, when I was a young single mother, I felt very strongly that I needed to be the one to raise my daughter, and putting her in day care did not seem the right thing at that time. Even though I had work experience and skills that were easily employable in the business world, it didn’t seem to be the path to follow.
I prayed for God to show me how to provide for my small family. Soon, I thought of the Bible story of the widow who had only a pot of oil in her house (see II Kings 4:1–7). She approached the prophet Elisha, indicating a dire situation in which her two sons were about to be taken by a creditor to be bondmen. Elisha asked her, “What hast thou in the house?” She responded, “Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.” Elisha then instructed her to borrow containers and fill them with the oil from the one pot. She was obedient, and was then able to sell the oil, pay her debt, and live with her children on what remained.
I found myself asking what “oil” I had in my house. In the Glossary of the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy gives the spiritual sense of the word oil as “consecration; charity; gentleness; prayer; heavenly inspiration” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 592). I prayed to receive more of this heavenly inspiration to guide me, and to fully express the qualities of charity and gentleness we naturally reflect as the expression of God.
It wasn’t long before the thought came that I had always been a good seamstress and had a mother and grandmother who also excelled at this skill. I decided to open my own sewing business, and ended up launching a career that lasted for over twenty years. After I remarried, having this business enabled me to work from home and to provide both of my children with an at-home parent until the younger one was into her teens. I also was able to add to the family income.
During those years, I sometimes was tempted to feel that I was missing out on things. Life seemed a little mundane at times. I had much to offer and wasn’t sure my talents were being used to their fullest. However, as a lifelong Christian Scientist, I never let this type of discouragement stay with me, and I would ask God to show me what I needed to know in order to feel satisfaction with the decisions I had been led to make. I felt that God, divine Love, had guided me each step of the way, and that therefore I could not be left out of any work that was mine to do.
I was reminded of Christ Jesus, who did not officially start his healing career until he was thirty, an age that would have been considered toward the end of one’s career at that time. But God had given him his work and the capacity to do it, and he would not fail in his healing mission. Jesus knew what his talents were and where they came from, and he knew that the one divine Mind, God, and not chance or human circumstance, was governing his life.
I would ask God to show me what I needed to know in order to feel satisfaction with the decisions I had been led to make.
During this time I read the three biographies of Mrs. Eddy by Robert Peel—The Years of Discovery, The Years of Trial, and The Years of Authority. I was inspired to learn that she took on seemingly mundane tasks, such as scrubbing the stairs of her home, while teaching, healing, and leading the burgeoning Christian Science movement (see Mary Baker Eddy: The Years of Trial, p. 65). I determined that no matter what my tasks were—whether pulling weeds, washing the car, or hemming dresses—I would do each to the best of my ability and with joy. I began to feel great satisfaction in everything I took on, because I no longer looked at each task as a human endeavor but as an opportunity to express the unlimited divine Mind—God.
When my younger daughter was 14, I went back into the business world part time. But the joy I felt and expressed to others soon opened up ways to work full time. I then was led to a job that suited me very well and allowed me to make use of the skills I had learned running my own business. In this new job, I discovered a career field that I hadn’t even known existed, one that enabled me to take full advantage of my skills. And to my delight, the manager of the department decided to mentor me as I pursued this new profession.
I worked for this organization for five years, eventually becoming a department manager, until I was let go as a result of a reorganization within the company. Yet I instinctively knew that divine Love would meet my need for employment. I knew that my spiritual identity was not tied to a career or specific position; my identity as a child of God was always intact and never unemployed.
I was provided with a severance package and used that time for prayer and a deep study of Christian Science while applying for work. I researched what Mrs. Eddy had to say about jobs, work, and employment, and I found many statements of truth that inspired and guided my prayers. My favorite was this: “Be of good cheer; the warfare with one’s self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you,—and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory” (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 118).
One day, I received a call from someone I had briefly met telling me that I should apply for a position that they were aware of within the federal workforce. I was hired, and found that my experience in my previous job was invaluable. My new work made full use of the skills I had acquired, and I was able to share my knowledge base with my new colleagues. I stayed in this job for 14 years, traveling extensively and having many wonderful opportunities to help others in the government, to be a peacemaker, and to share spiritual inspiration with my colleagues.
My salary after reentering the business environment never reflected any missed career opportunities; it was as if I had always been in the professional world. And in reality there is only one world in which we exist: the spiritual universe of God’s creation, in which there are no lost opportunities or untapped talents. I’m grateful to say I never experienced any loss from my decision to stay home with my children. I have always considered my children to be gifts from God, and we can never suffer a loss when being the recipient of God’s gifts.
If we are tempted to feel that certain choices will set us back, now or in the future, we can let go of these thoughts and trust that divine Love will always provide for us.