Have you ever found yourself totally busy doing things, and then wondering why you were the one doing them? Or wondering why they were being done at all? It’s easy to fall into the trap of doing, doing, doing, without really thinking about why.
Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 230). We all want our work to be valuable and fruitful, but how can we ensure that it is? I’ve realized we have the right and the responsibility to evaluate our tasks from a mental basis of poise, dominion, and principle.
There was a time in my life when I felt like I was my family’s servant. Working professionally, and doing chores, meals, and more at home, left no time for spiritual study, personal time, church activities, or even any friends. I was in a muddle and often found myself tired and feeling trapped or lonely, as well as frustrated and helpless about all I thought I had to do.
I decided I really needed to turn to God for answers, because I knew that if all this activity was really my duty to do as a wife and mother, God would provide a way for me to do it without a sense of utter despair.
I began to pray daily to feel God’s presence and to be able to demonstrate the balance and joy that come from divine Principle. A hymn from the Christian Science Hymnal was very helpful to me during this time. The first verse goes, “How gentle God’s commands, / How kind His precepts are; / Come, cast your burdens on the Lord, / And trust His constant care” (No. 124).
To me this meant a few things.
- I could trust God to lead me to know what He wanted me to do to best express Him, because as divine Love’s expression, I have to listen and follow, and divine Love’s job is to lead. I could not let God down, because He is holding me up.
- This inspiration would be enough because it was a progressive thought from God; divinely inspired, and God doesn’t set us up for failure, but always provides the tools, knowledge, and skill for each of us to carry out His mission. Science and Health states, “. . . progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil” (p. 233).
- Whatever was required of me could never be a burden. I remembered that Jesus and Mrs. Eddy both had huge responsibilities that they carried out as representatives of good, but each of them fulfilled their mission with determination and steadfastness. They were alert to the temptation to bemoan their role as they worked to carry out God’s mission for them. I could follow their example and be grateful for the opportunity to do whatever I needed to do.
The guidance that God gave Moses in the Bible’s book of Exodus was also very helpful God urges Moses to tell the children of Israel directly to get moving, but He also instructs Moses to do so in a wise manner, and to make the way easier. There was a certain balance to Moses’ leadership. One verse reads, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea” (14:15,16).
I began to examine all the things I was doing and pairing them up with spiritual qualities.
Now, I wasn’t exactly parting a sea here! But I realized something. While it was certainly important for me to be helpful and nurturing to my family – to demonstrate the qualities of motherhood that God had given me – I had fallen into a trap where I was doing things that did not need to be done by me and were not even my responsibility. By waiting on my family hand and foot and going around behind them picking up any mess, I was actually depriving them of demonstrating their God-given dominion and independence. I needed to pave the way for my family to move forward, but then to let go, and let them find their highest sense of right action in their own lives, too.
Mrs. Eddy said in her Message to the Mother Church for 1900: “Usefulness is doing rightly by yourself and others. We lose a percentage due to our activity when doing the work that belongs to another” (p. 8) . In order to determine what to keep on my own action list and what to hand off, or take off, I began to examine all the things I was doing and pairing them up with spiritual qualities.
If I was doing something out of a sense of love, joy, peace, order, adherence to a prior agreement (reflecting Principle), wisdom, or like qualities, then it stayed on my own “to do” list. If I was doing something just because it needed to be done and no one else was doing it, or if I was doing it with a sense of burden, then I patiently instructed and joyfully delegated that task to the right person. I found that there were many tasks on the list that really didn’t need to be done at all, or at least not so frequently, and those also found their right place.
It was Love that led me through every step of thinking about my tasks, communicating the need for assistance, teaching my family how to do some necessary chores, and knowing what to let fall away. This required patience and persistence, two valuable Christly qualities which Jesus had demonstrated, and which I knew I could express by being more loving.
As I began to see the work before me as expressions of Love and of divine Principle, my family became more harmonious, and more willing to help out at home. The funk of being buried under an unprincipled flurry of tasks melted into the warmth of family harmony.
Everyone in my family was happier after this change of thought and action. They were more independent, freed from relying on me so much, and more spiritually dependent on the strength and wisdom that comprised their own relationship with divine Principle. I felt free, happy, and more able to be loving and forgiving. A victory for everyone.