I stopped saying, 'I can't.'
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I felt stuck. I decided that my new career (which I had looked forward to) was too hard. Every six weeks or so, I felt as if I hit a brick wall, and then I would lament: "I can't do this. I don't have enough strength, humility, love, persistence, patience to do this work. Why did I ever go ahead with this anyway?"
Still, I found that turning to the Bible gave me strength and courage.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus, found himself in a frustrating and limiting situation. He was struggling with what the Bible describes as a "thorn in the flesh" - what may have been some kind of physical condition or handicap. He begged God to remove the problem.
God's response to Paul was: "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." Paul said: "Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride.... I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become" (II Cor. 12:8-10, Eugene Peterson, "The Message").
Paul's experience tells me that I don't have to feel paralyzed by fear when I feel weak and don't know how to solve a problem. What I need to remember is that I can be grateful for that gift of Christ that keeps me from getting so focused on what I believe are my handicaps or limits. In order to let "Christ take over," as Paul did, I have to be willing to stop trying so hard myself.
Often we're encouraged never to give up, to just keep going. While this advice is sometimes helpful, there can also be a downside - thinking that we by ourselves have the ability or power to make things happen. Giving up - as in giving up thinking I can do things on my own without God - is a must for me in order to feel the power of Christ showing me how to move forward.
Christ, Truth, is that message from God that speaks to us and guides us correctly. Mary Baker Eddy wrote: "There is but one way to heaven, harmony, and Christ in divine Science shows us this way" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," page 242). Often we hear this direction when we realize that we can't figure things out ourselves and have turned humbly to God for the answer.
That's the point I reached with my career challenges. I just couldn't figure things out myself. So in the midst of saying "I can't do this!" for the umpteenth time, I turned to God, Love, for an answer. I suppose I was looking for something that told me I could do it and most important, how I could do it.
That's when I heard God say very quietly, "If you need more strength, I'll give it to you. If you need more humility, ask Me for it, and you'll find it. I am the One who gives you everything you need - the ability to persist, to love, to patiently work and not give up." When I heard that message, I, like Paul, knew God's grace was enough.
I stopped trying so hard to manufacture what I needed myself, and I also stopped believing that I could be cut off from what I needed. The God who is Love doesn't forsake His children or tell them at certain points they're on their own and need to figure it out themselves.
In the Bible Jesus said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" (Luke 11:9-13).
I stopped hitting that brick wall. I stopped saying, "I can't do it." And I found that I love my new career and that I can do it! But I still come back to that same message over and over again: "My grace is enough; it's all you need."