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Getting back on track

From the May 12, 2003 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

A few years ago I graduated from college. At the time I had no real plan except to go home to Colorado, skibum a little, and then move to northern California. I wanted to search for a good art school with a good MFA program, as soon as I found it feasible.

As most college grads can testify to, graduation time is pretty scary. Not the actual graduation, but the questions that loom beyond such as, "What and how am I going to attain my dreams when I need a job, a home, and money to pay back my loans?" At least that is what I asked when I realized there were no longer going to be any school rules, resident assistants, academic advisors, or professors to guide my trembling knees.

Six months after graduating and spending a nice powdery winter in Colorado, I packed up my car and headed to California without a job or a place to live. But I had grand expectations and the understanding that—no matter what—God was guiding and protecting each footstep I took.

Nevertheless, questions still loomed over me about paying back college loans and credit card debt, along with the costs of moving to California. All I wanted to do was go forward, have some fun, and explore. Yet, in all honesty, I suppose I was not being the most responsible college grad, because I wasn't truly dealing with these questions right away. I didn't want to at the time. It almost seemed as though avoiding the major questions made more sense than facing them. I thought I could deal with these things when it seemed necessary.

Despite my ignorant actions, which now seem obvious to me, I tried hard to seek God's guidance because, at the time, I was able at least to acknowledge that God is omnipotent Mind and that I was (and still am) a reflection of His/Her knowledge and understanding. By acknowledging God's power, I continued to recognize that God was comforting, protecting, and loving me in all situations, even when things seemed intensely unclear.

Mary Baker Eddy, the author of Science and Health, said, "Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love" (p. 66). In my heart I knew God was surrounding me in my exploration and was, of course, guiding me in the "right" direction. I was trusting that the experience I was getting was bringing me to a fuller and more spiritual understanding of God, as well as of myself as His reflection.

My move to California started pretty great. I found a good job with a quality magazine, and I found what seemed to be a pretty good place to live. But quickly a lot of guilt, pressure, and anxiety began to fall on top of me because of my school loans and credit card debt. The fear of my debt seemed to be much bigger than anything I had known in the past.

I truly believe that if I strive to progress by loving God, my fellow man, and myself, that it will be impossible to go down a "wrong" path.

I also started questioning whether or not I wanted to be a Christian Scientist. I had always found Christian Science to be very useful. It had even brought me numerous physical healings. But I guess I did not want to identify myself with a particular religion. At the time I felt I could just let these feelings slide because I didn't feel as if I was doing anything "morally wrong." With all this pressure about my debt, along with the doubts I was having about my spiritual path, after a while I began to wonder why I had ever left Colorado.

Soon I realized that I had slid into a depression, a mental funk. I felt at the time that I had very little to brag about: no money, no friends, and next to no confidence. One morning when I woke up, the first thought that I heard in my head was, "You have lost your ability to heal!" This was the final straw. I realized how far I had mentally drifted from everything I had believed to be true about myself as a spiritual thinker. And I also realized how precious Christian Science was to me. I saw then that I would never want to lose track of something that had had such a significant impact on me for most of my life.

A few months earlier I had lost a ring my dad had given me for graduation—a very special, not to mention valuable, gold ring. So on this morning, I was stirred to think about what a special and wonderful gift this was from my dad. To me, it symbolized his unselfishness, as well as his love for me. As I thought about it further, I thought about Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. In the end, when the son had come home from a distant land, even though he had wasted all his inheritance on "riotous living," his father said, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet" (see Luke 15:11–24).

I then began to see that in some ways, I too had moved to a strange and distant mental land, and I was suddenly yearning to be home with my Father–Mother God. I felt it was time to get back on the road in a direction that felt useful, creative, and invigorationg.

At that moment another thought came to me that here was an opportunity to move beyond the past because I could pray about finding this ring. I quietly asked God to show me how to find what appeared to be lost. I started looking all around until I was becoming almost frantic in my search. Quickly I realized I wasn't really listening for God's voice or guidance. I was becoming anxious, which meant I needed to quiet my thoughts even more.

So I sat down again—quietly—on my bed, and shut all the frenzied thoughts out of my head. I said, "Dear Father, I know that You can do everything, and I hope You can forgive me for questioning one iota of Your omnipotent power. Please show me the way." Then a thought came—that lovely "still small voice" that I knew was God communicating with me. "Look again in your duffel bag." I had previously searched this bag thoroughly, so at first I was hesitant to bother. But I knew that what I'd heard could not be false if it was from God. I pulled out my duffel bag again and looked. Sure enough—there was the ring.

This experience was extremely powerful to me. It showed me that God alone is the truth giver. It showed me, too, that the Christlike healing power is available at all times, even when I might feel unworthy of expressing such grace. I also saw that God doesn't care if you feel unworthy. He/She knows that everyone is worthy of His love, and we are worthy of it at all times.

This little, yet great, proof of God's care for me also marked a major turnaround for me in my mental outlook, and not just in a religious way. Soon I was able to make a complete change in my financial situation, marked by my finding the strength and the courage really to deal with my debt. This included my stepping up to my budgeting and banking responsibilities. Soon I was also completely healed of all feelings of depression, my self–confidence was stronger, and I was finding new friends.

I also found a new feeling of creative strength beyond what I had known just in the world of fine arts, which was what I had wanted to pursue in graduate school. Instead, I was finding a great desire to do graphic design as a possible career, and I began doing everything I could to get moving in that direction.

I really think Christian Science provides powerful tools for learning to trust beyond what our five physical senses tell us. Christian Science helped me develop a faith that allows me to trust that whatever the present moment holds—whether it's all smooth sailing or if I'm at a point of total despair—any problem can be solved, healed, or adjusted.

Since graduation, I've come to see that life is a road to travel, explore, enjoy, and live to the fullest. I truly believe that if I strive to progress by loving God, my fellow man, and myself, that it will be impossible to go down a "wrong" path. I've learned that even if the present path isn't the best one for me, God will move me right where I need to be.

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