ARE you one of those people who in addition to other full-time tasks is also caring for a relative or friend? Perhaps insurance doesn't cover the care that's needed. There's no one to provide it but you. Maybe besides being physically exhausted you're emotionally drained. Regardless of how much you love this dear person, you may sometimes feel hopelessly trapped. I know about such feelings: I used to suffer from them. But through constant, humble prayer in my study of Christian Science, which was discovered and founded by Mary Baker Eddy, I have learned that no matter how demanding our care-giving tasks may seem, when we see ourselves as serving God, the Father's gentle chastening purifies and strengthens us. Then, little by little, whatever we need to do becomes an opportunity for spiritual growth rather than a frustrating chore.
We read in the Bible, ``Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.''1
I had been feeling grieved about my care-giving tasks -- and certainly not walking very straight spiritually. In fact, I realized, I was way off balance, fast becoming a person I didn't like at all: heavy-spirited, joyless, constantly finding fault.
Then one day a completely unrelated event helped me get myself back on course. A friend had invited me to go on his boat to see the whales that feed offshore from the seaside town we live in. All I expected was a welcome respite from my burdens -- time off, so to speak, on a strictly material level. But instead, out there on the open ocean with no land in sight, my heart was suddenly filled with a glorious feeling of God's boundless creation and my own place in it.
Looking around me at the unrestricted horizons of the magnificent ocean, I saw that my mental horizons could not be constricted by another's material outlook but were spiritually boundless. It was a wonderful, shining moment of coincidence with divine reality in which I realized that no situation, no matter how difficult or demanding, could ever turn me -- or anyone -- into a mean-spirited mortal. I could see that because my real being is wholly spiritual, I am God's child, the pure, perfect, loving idea He has created; and therefore I can only think and act in Godlike ways.
It was a spiritual turning point for me. And the peace that filled my heart -- the recognition that God's holy purpose for His beloved children is all that can ever govern them -- has never left me. And since then I've never again felt so burdened by caring for my relative.
Mrs. Eddy writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``Through the wholesome chastisements of Love, we are helped onward in the march towards righteousness, peace, and purity, which are the landmarks of Science. Beholding the infinite tasks of truth, we pause, -- wait on God. Then we push onward, until boundless thought walks enraptured, and conception unconfined is winged to reach the divine glory.''2
When we gain even a glimpse of what it means to wait on God, to serve Him, we find that the self-centeredness that may try to obscure the reality of our true being begins to dissolve. With the spiritual landmarks of righteousness, peace, and purity as our guides -- instead of the human wants that care-giving can sometimes deny us -- we no longer meet with one failure after another. Instead we prepare our hearts to accept the glorious concept of life as Jesus lived it -- and find, little by little, that we can actually begin to live such a life ourselves.
The Master, we might well remember, washed his disciples' feet. Do you suppose he felt demeaned or put upon by such a task? Hardly! In fact he told the disciples that it was what they should be doing for each other. ``I have given you an example,'' he said, ``that ye should do as I have done to you.''3
So, fellow care-givers, let's rejoice that we are doing the work that God has given us to do! Doing this work, we are spiritually invigorated and sustained, never bound by anyone else's mortal outlook or condition. In fact, with our increasing spiritual understanding we can help free our loved ones from what they may think is hopeless bondage by seeing them as in truth the pure, unfettered ideas that God created. And in so doing we will more and more consistently keep our own conception unconfined, ``winged to reach the divine glory.''
1Hebrews 12:11-13. 2Science and Health, p. 323. 3John 13:15.
Healing through prayer is explored in more detail in a weekly magazine, the Christian Science Sentinel. BIBLE VERSE: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly.... Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
I Peter 5: 2, 6, 7