Christmas retail—a spiritual perspective

The hustle and bustle of the mall was in full swing for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations as I walked to the clothing store where I worked. I envied the people I saw sitting on a bench or laughing with a friend. I wanted to relax and have fun, too. I dreaded going to a busy store where I would be on my feet for hours with a fake smile plastered on my face. I had been a seasonal worker for the same retail store for about a year, and I deeply disliked the work. If I wasn’t bored, I felt overworked. Each day, I pretended to care about overpriced merchandise, served unappreciative (and sometimes rude) customers, and felt embarrassed when I couldn’t complete a transaction without help from a manager. I would mentally count down the hours until I could go home as soon as I arrived at work. Then, one day, as that familiar feeling of dread swept over me, I decided enough was enough! It was time to change my perspective and turn to God.

I gleaned inspiration from a Bible citation I had heard in both Sunday School and church: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). This quote reminded me that God never created anything bad; God only created good things, so my job had to be a good thing. I affirmed that God always wanted me to be happy. One concept I remember discussing in Sunday School was that God was our divine Parent—our Father-Mother God. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote a spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer in Science and Health. She interpreted “Our Father which art in Heaven” as “Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (<a class="tome-reference" href="https&#x3A;&#x2F;&#x2F;login.concord.christianscience.com&#x2F;concord3&#x2F;search&#x2F;&#x3F;query&#x3D;16&#x25;3A26-27&amp;book&#x3D;SH" rel="16&#x3A;26-27" target="_blank" data-citation="16&#x3A;26-27" data-book="SH" title="&amp;amp;nbsp;">&amp;amp;nbsp;</a><a class="tome-reference" href="https&#x3A;&#x2F;&#x2F;login.concord.christianscience.com&#x2F;concord3&#x2F;search&#x2F;&#x3F;query&#x3D;p.&#x25;2016&amp;book&#x3D;SH" rel="p.&#x20;16" target="_blank" data-citation="p.&#x20;16" data-book="SH" title="&lt;a class=&quot;tome-reference&quot; href=&quot;https&amp;#x3A;&amp;#x2F;&amp;#x2F;login.concord.christianscience.com&amp;#x2F;concord3&amp;#x2F;search&amp;#x2F;&amp;#x3F;query&amp;#x3D;16&amp;#x25;3A26-27&amp;amp;book&amp;#x3D;SH&quot; rel=&quot;16&amp;#x3A;26-27&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot; data-citation=&quot;16&amp;#x3A;26-27&quot; data-book=&quot;SH&quot; title=&quot;p. 16&quot;&gt;p. 16&lt;/a&gt;">&lt;a class=&quot;tome-reference&quot; href=&quot;https&amp;#x3A;&amp;#x2F;&amp;#x2F;login.concord.christianscience.com&amp;#x2F;concord3&amp;#x2F;search&amp;#x2F;&amp;#x3F;query&amp;#x3D;16&amp;#x25;3A26-27&amp;amp;book&amp;#x3D;SH&quot; rel=&quot;16&amp;#x3A;26-27&quot; target=&quot;_blank&quot; data-citation=&quot;16&amp;#x3A;26-27&quot; data-book=&quot;SH&quot; title=&quot;p. 16&quot;&gt;p. 16&lt;/a&gt;</a>). To me, that means God is complete with feminine tenderness and masculine strength, which brings peace because He provides us with unconditional and constant care. I thought about my parents and how they always wanted me to be happy. If I had a divine Parent, I knew I could trust that my Father-Mother provided joy for me at every moment.

As I prayed to see God’s goodness around me, I thought back to a Disneyland trip I had taken several years ago. I remembered that I had felt my happiest on that vacation. However, I realized that I was happy not just because I was at Disneyland, but because I felt protected, energized, loved, and at peace. These spiritual qualities that came to me in such vivid form at Disneyland were permanent no matter what the human situation seemed to suggest. I knew that every situation was an opportunity from God to be happy. This meant that I could look forward to my job at the retail store as much as I would look forward to a trip to Disneyland!

I thought about a quote from Psalms, “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16:11). This verse reminded me that I was entitled to the fullness of joy at every moment of my life, and I knew that if I put God first in all that I did, I would see joy. From then on, I went to work and expected to feel protected, energized, loved, and at peace. The next time I went into the mall, instead of looking enviously at others or feeling burdened, I saw the beautiful holiday decorations, the thoughtful shoppers choosing gifts for loved ones, and the sales associates helping customers—everyone was fulfilling a higher purpose. I saw my own divine purpose at work, too. My fake smile became a genuine expression of joy. I unselfishly served others and felt happy to help people as they sought gifts for family members and friends. I respected my managers and no longer felt embarrassed when I needed help with a transaction.

This change of perspective brought many other healings at work which involved relationships between co-workers and customers. One time, a woman returned a sweater at our store. It was a very busy day, and I was forced to hand off the transaction to someone else. It turned out that the sweater the woman had returned was not from our store, and when I discovered this, she’d already left. The person who had taken over the transaction said we should hide the sweater and pretend it didn’t happen. However, I knew that I had to stand for what was right. I immediately turned to my divine Parent and knew He would guide me to do the right thing to harmoniously resolve the situation. As I prepared to tell my manager about the mix-up, I saw the woman returning to the store. I handed her the sweater and informed her and my manager about what had happened. I was never condemned and the woman was really grateful. Not only did I feel a sense of love from those around me, but I felt a deeper love that came from my Father-Mother God. I witnessed His guidance and care every step of the way. Because of these experiences, I know that love and joy are ever present and permanent for all of God’s beloved children. Our Father-Mother God is with us right now to shelter, guide, and provide infinite joy to all His creation.

Originally appeared on spirituality.com

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