There is a way out of "burnout," stress on the job, and stress in our lives. And the way is through turning to God and discovering how much God loves each one of us, supports us in our journey, and helps us overcome challenges, whatever they may be.
Some time ago, while I was a single mother, I worked as a purchasing agent for a manufacturing company. With the demands of my job—I received upward of 50 phone calls per day—I really felt stressed and burned out every day. My routine included driving during rush hour, picking up my child from a baby sitter, feeling anxiety about my job, and hoping that I could be the best, most loving and patient mom while sticking to a tight schedule. I wondered when I'd be able to catch up and have what I considered a normal life. In addition, I began to develop stomach pains and had to deal with fears about this physical ailment.
When one is immersed in challenging situations like this, it's tempting to see oneself as bogged down in a human dilemma, with a yearning to escape from it, or at least improve upon it. But as a student of Christian Science, I understood that I had to look higher than the human sense of things; I had to look to God, to spiritual reality—the way God sees things—to find my solution. The Psalmist said, "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I" (Ps. 61:2). I understood that with God there was no fear or anxiety, no lack of balance. Instead, God was my source of love, strength, and daily renewal. And I strove to understand more of this divine balance and sustaining power.
Every morning before leaving for work, I made a special effort to spend some time studying the weekly Christian Science Bible Lesson, to find strength for the day and lift my thoughts to this higher viewpoint, where I knew healing would occur.
One of the Bible verses I loved was, "In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion" (Ps. 71:1). When I prayed with this verse, I was asking God to help me out of the confusing and stressful conditions occasioned at the office.
When the healing light of the Christ is in our hearts, those around us see that light and benefit from it.
God, who is the divine Mind, knew peace, harmony, stability, strength—the very things I needed. And because God is also Love, I could trust that His plan for me and all His children included the good that seemed to be eluding me. More and more, I became convinced that I was not alone, no matter how things seemed to be. I did have God. And then, a wonderful healing occurred in my life.
I came home one evening very exasperated from another difficult day, and felt pained in my stomach area. When I felt that way, it would occur to me that perhaps I had an ulcer. I longed to feel the healing power of God's truth, which is described in this statement from Science and Health: "Because Truth is omnipotent in goodness, error, Truth's opposite, has no might" (p. 367). That evening I went to bed but could not sleep. Worries about my job and my physical condition kept me awake. I tossed and turned and asked myself, "How can I take another day of this?" Resigning my employment was not an option.
In a moment of desperation, I began to have a mental talk with God. Christian Science has taught me that in addition to Mind and Love, God is divine Principle, upholding a universal, benevolent law that is always operating and available to help us. And I was deeply convinced that I could rely on this divine law. But at this point, I began to talk to God as if He was my best Friend and a divine Parent. I asked, "Father, what am I going to do?"
And God's answer came to me in the form of a couple of questions. I was quite surprised by this. The first question that came was, "What would you do if Jesus walked into your office?" I couldn't have thought that up in a million years! The follow-up question was, "How would you perform your job then?"
Well, those questions truly awakened me out of what felt like a hypnotic stupor, a mental haziness. You see, the office I worked in at that time was rife with gossip, low morale, strong opinions, complaints, and lots of employee turnover, which fueled an uneasy atmosphere and added to the stress I felt. So when God spoke to me in those questions, I thought if Jesus Christ walked into my office and sat down, I would be so in awe, so respectful, so reverent of this master Christian that I would be willing to do whatever he asked me to do. Then I considered the second question. And I knew from the bottom of my heart that I would perform my duties in the best possible, most perfect way I could, and that I'd do this for the glory of God. After all, wasn't this what Jesus had done?
I remembered Jesus' words: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake" (John 14:10, 11). I had a responsible position and companies were vying for the business I could place with them. But I realized I was not in this position to glorify Diane or exercise false ego, or for any prideful reason. I was there to glorify God.
This realization gave me a deep sense of peace and joy. My whole outlook changed. I went to sleep with a happy anticipation of good and a conviction that God had answered me. He had delivered me from all my fears. At the same time, all the physical discomfort I was feeling completely faded away. I never experienced it again. I was healed.
The next day I went to my office with an entirely new attitude. While I was driving to work I declared, "I work for God, and Jesus Christ is my manager." And I meant it. I knew that as long as I performed my work to the standards of Jesus Christ, letting it glorify God, everyone around me would be satisfied with my performance and it couldn't be stressful. I couldn't lose.
I returned to the very same position I'd held for years, but I went with new purpose and the enlightened understanding I'd gained. When my manager made a request of me, I was more than happy to accommodate. I felt hassle-free and unruffled throughout the day. Although the request was coming through the manager, I was working for the glory of God and measuring my performance by the standards of the Christ.
My mental and spiritual reformation brought a new sense of humility and love to the department, and others began to take notice. They too began to act differently. The demanding pace didn't change, but the static in the office was defused. People were calmer, there was a softening of character, and greater respect for each other was very apparent. A cleansing was taking place.
Mary Baker Eddy once quoted Wendell Phillips as saying, "One with God is a majority" (see Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, p. 245). When the healing light of the Christ, which Jesus embodied, is in our hearts, and we bring that light to any situation, those around us see it and benefit from it.
There was a happy follow-up to this healing, which was quite remarkable to me. The feelings of being burned out were gone. In fact, I really enjoyed going to work every day and reveled in the job. Instead of buying into negativity, to what may be described as outside business calamities, I began to see these instances as opportunities to turn immediately and confidently to divine Mind for intelligent answers. All this had far-reaching results. A changed emphasis, improved work quality, harmonized relationships, more intelligent decision making, and clearer spiritual discernment resulted in a promotion within a few months, which I gratefully accepted.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and 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.
When we feel that we are at the end of our rope, completely burned out and deeply challenged—whether as a homemaker, a parent, an employee, or even as someone looking for employment—we can hold on to God, hold on to everything we understand about Him as our best Friend, our divine Parent. The One who loves us stands beside us, and always will. Each of us can feel His support and see proof of the Almighty's ability to deliver and heal. His help is available to all—today.
FOR MORE ON THIS TOPIC
To hear Diane Sheth speak on this topic, tune in to Sentinel Radio during the week of January 9–15, 2010. For a listing of broadcast locations and times, go to www.sentinelradio.com. To purchase a download of this radio program, #1002, on or after January 9, go to www.sentinelradio.com and click on Audio Download Store.
Diane Sheth is now a Christian Science practitioner in Charlotteville, Virginia.
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