Busy and stressed, or active and joyous?
“Busy.” I had been hearing this apparently innocuous word a lot in casual conversations, and it got me to wondering why I was hearing it so often and if, in fact, it was so innocent.
Being diligent, industrious, and hard-working can, of course, be seen as a virtue. But the busyness that I was hearing was accompanied by a “too much to do and too little time to do it” sense of stress. And the frequency with which I was hearing the word made me wonder if it was more of an imposition than I originally thought. When I developed the symptoms of busyness in my own life, I felt impelled to pray for spiritual clarity and joy.
I found myself feeling burdened by a number of work tasks needing to be accomplished, and a sense of responsibility to get them all done. I had bought into being busy with its associated baggage of stress, impatience, and frustration. It seemed like an assault on my own thinking.
So, one morning while feeling the mental weight of my to-do list, I simply sat quietly and prayed: “Father-Mother God, show me what I need to know, feel, and do today.” An answer came in the form of a question: “What would you be without this thought—this feeling of stress—to get things done?” The answer came immediately: “I would be free, active, and joyous.”
I realized at that moment that I had a conscious choice to make: to accept the imposition of stressful busyness, or to affirm my joyous, active status as a son of God. I was reminded of something a Christian Science practitioner once shared: “When the going gets tough, the tough get knowing (knowing the Truth).” Mary Baker Eddy said in her book Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, “Rushing around smartly is no proof of accomplishing much” (p. 230). And Jesus never said, “Rush around smartly and you will get into the kingdom of heaven.” He said rather, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). I resolved to do less rushing around and more knowing of the Truth.
I resolved to do less rushing and more knowing of the Truth.
I gave myself a Christian Science treatment that went something like this: “My Father-Mother God, thank You for creating me in Your image and likeness: pure, perfect, intelligent, industrious, and complete. You are the only Mind in the universe, and as Your spiritual image and likeness, I reflect this Mind in all that I think, do, and say. Since You are All, there is no room for Your unlikeness; no room for stress, impatience, frustration, busyness. You created all, and I reflect Your infinite intelligence and grace. You are the source of all right ideas, and as Your reflection, I include and have complete access to these ideas. No mortal measurement, no limit of time, no thing can separate me from Your love, presence, and power—right here, right now. I naturally, effortlessly reflect the goodness, peace, joy, and intelligence of Your infinite presence. I know it, I know I know it, and I thank You, Father-Mother God, that this is the truth.”
I was also reminded of Mrs. Eddy’s definition of time in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which states in part: “Mortal measurements; limits, in which are summed up all human acts, thoughts, beliefs, opinions, knowledge; matter; error; …” (p. 595). I realized that what I needed was not more time, but a clearer sense of my spiritual nature as God’s beloved son—freely reflecting God’s infinitude.
Feeling God’s presence and the power of prayer, I saw that my job was not to make a mortal man a more effective worker nor to perform material tasks more efficiently. My job was to see that I was not a limited mortal in the first place, stressed by a volume of material tasks to be accomplished in the second place. My job was to acknowledge God as my Father-Mother, the infinite source of spiritual ideas, joy, and activity.
Science and Health states: “The foundation of mortal discord is a false sense of man’s origin. To begin rightly is to end rightly. Every concept which seems to begin with the brain begins falsely. Divine Mind is the only cause or Principle of existence. Cause does not exist in matter, in mortal mind, or in physical forms” (p. 262). My job was simply to begin rightly.
I then went to work. And what a glorious day I had bearing witness to God’s ideas in action. Yes, I accomplished the human tasks in front of me with far less effort than I had previously thought possible, but more important, I was grateful to be reminded that the source of all right ideas and activity is God, good; and a result of knowing and demonstrating this is living an active, joyous life. And this way of approaching my daily life and work has stayed with me.