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Work vs. love

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

One thing I've noticed about romantic comedy movies is that often their plots involve a conflict between the desire to be in love and the ambition to succeed professionally. One would-be lover is portrayed as having to give up the pursuit of a career in order to win the other's heart.

When work is depicted as merely a self-serving means to gaining riches or fame, this might make sense. But most people probably have had at least moments in their work of feeling rewarded at a deeper level. Some people work not just for the money (no matter how needed it may be) but also because they want to contribute something.

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At the heart of such work is the calling to do some good. It's a spiritual calling, something we all truly have. It's a calling to express the divine Love that you could call God. There is more than one way to achieve this expression in our lives. Nurturing a friendship or a budding romance, belonging to and caring for a family, are very important ones also.

So what's happening when work and relationship demands seem to clash? It looks like two legitimate expressions of love are in conflict with each other. But that's impossible; divine Love is one God, one Love. Anything expressive of infinite Love is necessarily in a state of harmony.

I've found it possible to feel the harmony of divine Love in my own life, through my growing understanding of the love expressed by Jesus. In a chapter called "Marriage," the Christian Science textbook says that "home is the dearest spot on earth"; further that "... it should be the centre, though not the boundary, of the affections" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy, pg. 58).

To me, this makes two equally essential points. First, that because our love should center on home, work demands aren't supposed to dominate home demands. Second, that because home shouldn't signify the limit of the affections, an individual's desire to serve the wider human family finds essential support within a loving home.

Prayer helps me in correctly crafting this kind of balanced approach to relationships and work. A good starting point for such prayer is recognizing that the entirety of everyone's true existence lies in his or her identity as the child of God and the reflection of pure Love. We are all created by God to love - spiritually, moment by moment, day by day. If we understand this, and trust God to lead us into knowing how to express His/Her love, we will sense what's best to do at each particular moment. It might mean spending time with loved ones. Working hard. Volunteering in the community. Or just praying for a while.

I recently glimpsed the balance that praying for God's guidance can bring to the work/family equation. I was flying overseas to attend a conference close to where my dad and brothers live. So I booked a couple of days' vacation time on either side of the conference. As the departure date approached, however, there seemed to be too much work in my in-tray to make it logical to leave. Family and work seemed in direct conflict.

So I prayed. In my thoughts I asked God for direction. As I did, I felt the clear intuition that in this instance God was guiding me to attend to my work before flying out to the conference and not take the vacation days beforehand. And I did that.

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The shorter time I had with my family after the conference was successful. I realized in hindsight that I was able to bring a freedom to my time with them, since the demands of work weren't on my mind. And my family felt that freedom of thought; this was a happier visit than previous ones, in which I hadn't been as diligent about seeking God's guidance ahead of time.

This is one example of how we can truly benefit from letting God guide both relationship and work choices. It points to how we can expect more balanced and fulfilling lives, in which no aspect of living can compete with any other.

Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it. Psalms 90:17

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