A layoff and a fresh start
A Christian Science perspective.
At one point in my career I, along with others, was terminated by an engineering firm that was downsizing. About a month into my job search, with a stack of rejections piling up, I called a Christian Science practitioner for help through prayer.
The practitioner suggested that I read selections from the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, on topics such as beginning, starting, and origin, etc. It was obvious that we were not going to start with what I thought was the problem. She was redirecting me away from what had become a fixation, and it was a relief since I was worn out fighting shadows.
I remembered a wonderful statement that always reminded me that Christian Science does not start with the problem; it starts with the answer. Mrs. Eddy wrote, “The starting-point of divine Science is that God, Spirit, is All-in-all, and that there is no other might nor Mind,...” (p. 275). I continue to return to this statement time and time again.
I was beginning to see that I had linked my identity to a job title. Now I realized that a job title did not define me; it merely described what I did. I didn’t have an unemployment problem. What I needed was to see more of my true identity. It was becoming clear through the work with the practitioner that my identity had its origin in God as His reflex image in which there was neither postponement nor delay. A wonderful hymn from the “Christian Science Hymnal” begins, “Trust the Eternal ...” (William P. McKenzie, No. 359). I was finding that I could “trust the Eternal,” God, and lay all my cares and concerns on the altar of that trust.
I was assured that my identity was never separate from God. For example, if I took a plane to Seattle, my identity wouldn’t leave for Chicago on a separate flight. Since my identity cannot be separated from God, it can never be separated from me. All the qualities that I brought to my job were ever with me to be of service wherever God directed me.
After a month of daily contacts with the practitioner, I was able to make a clear distinction between a limited view of my identity and the pristine clarity of my oneness with divine Life, Truth, and Love. I could see that lack and poverty were no part of God and therefore no part of my experience. I could “trust the Eternal” to open new opportunities and possibilities, here and now, in tangible ways that I could understand and act on.
Little by little, I began to get calls for freelance work with assignments that lasted from a couple of days to several weeks. I illustrated a children’s Christmas story by a local TV host. The engineering firm that had terminated me began calling for technical illustrations, a trade show company needed graphics for presentations, and several ad agencies picked up the slack. And so it went. When one assignment ended, another started up; and in some cases, they overlapped.
After about six months, I received a phone call one morning from a personnel agency that I’d not called. A friend from the engineering firm, currently working for the agency, had happened to find the placement order for a graphic management position and recommended me. I applied and was hired. The company offered a generous benefits package as well as reimbursement for all my expenses. In addition to this full-time position, I was able to teach graphic design in the evenings at a community college and to continue some freelance work long distance on the weekends.
Mrs. Eddy encouraged her readers, “Be of good cheer; the warfare with one’s self is grand; it gives one plenty of employment, and the divine Principle worketh with you, – and obedience crowns persistent effort with everlasting victory” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 118). I continue to learn what that means.
Trust the Eternal when the shadows gather,
When joys of daylight seem so like a dream;
God the unchanging pities like a father;
Trust on and wait, the daystar yet shall gleam.
Trust the Eternal, for the clouds that vanish
No more can move the mountains from their base
Than sin’s illusive wreaths of mist can banish
Light from His throne or loving from His face.
Trust the Eternal, and repent in meekness
Of that heart’s pride which frowns and will not yield,
Then to thy child-heart shall come strength in weakness,
And thine immortal life shall be revealed.
(William McKenzie, “Christian Science Hymnal,” No. 359)