“In Heavenly love abiding,
No change my heart shall fear,
And safe is such confiding,
For nothing changes here.
The storm may roar without me,
My heart may low be laid;
But God is round about me,
And can I be dismayed?”
– Laetitia Waring
Graduating, marrying, becoming a parent, divorcing, losing a job, starting a new one, retirement, moving, aging, death – life is full of changes, isn’t it? And sooner or later everyone has their own opportunities to deal with change.
Change can be really exciting. Change can also be really scary. The words from the poem above have always been a great comfort to me during times of change. They remind me that even though the external environment and circumstances in my life may change, and though my future may seem uncertain, I can always depend on some things to stay the same: I know I can always depend on the presence of God (Truth and Love) to be with me, protecting and guiding me. And the qualities that make me “me” don’t change. I know I can bring these qualities with me into any new situation. Everything I need, I carry with me – intelligence, kindness, honesty, integrity, joy – and I can always claim these qualities as my own when I need them.
In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy writes, “Willingness to become as a little child and to leave the old for the new, renders thought receptive of the advanced idea. Gladness to leave the false landmarks and joy to see them disappear, – this disposition helps to precipitate the ultimate harmony.”
Think about it – for little children every day is new, every day is full of something they haven’t seen or experienced before. And the way little children approach these new things is really inspiring, isn’t it? Children look at their world with wide-eyed wonder, eager to learn new things, fearless and unself-conscious with the newness of their lives – without making a conscious choice about it, they learn to walk and talk and run. And without conscious thought or choice they leave the ”old” behind in a very natural and unforced way – one day, without thinking about it, they put down their favorite toy for the last time, and move on to something new.
“Wherever He may guide me,
No want shall turn me back;
My Shepherd is beside me,
And nothing can I lack.
His wisdom ever waketh,
His sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
And I will walk with Him.”
– Laetitia Waring
Sometimes we begin to get the sense that change is coming, and we’re able to prepare for it. And sometimes change comes so abruptly that there seems no time for human preparation. Sometimes change is a choice, and sometimes it is not.
In the last couple of years, while contemplating a change in my career, a section from Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, has often come into my thoughts: “When the ocean is stirred by a storm, then the clouds lower, the wind shrieks through the tightened shrouds, and the waves lift themselves into mountains. We ask the helmsman: ‘Do you know your course? Can you steer safely amid the storm?’ He answers bravely, but even the dauntless seaman is not sure of his safety; nautical science is not equal to the Science of Mind. Yet, acting up to his highest understanding, firm at the post of duty, the mariner works on and awaits the issue. Thus should we deport ourselves on the seething ocean of sorrow. Hoping and working, one should stick to the wreck, until an irresistible propulsion precipitates his doom or sunshine gladdens the troubled sea.”
I’ve wondered how I would know when it was the right time to make a change. Would I be able to recognize the “irresistible propulsion” when I saw it? And how could I prepare for the career changes that might await me in the future?
Although I really had no idea what I was preparing for, or when I’d need to be ready for the change, when I look back on the last couple years I see that my path was being prepared for me. I was led to take steps that proved to be important for me when change came, although I didn’t realize the significance at the time. And, recently, when the “propulsion” came, I knew it. The “propulsion” would, in fact, have been hard to ignore.
And at that moment – the moment when I knew, with conviction and without a doubt, that it was time to leave – there was no sense of regret, no feeling that I had left something undone or unresolved, no thought that I hadn’t stayed as long as I needed to stay. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for me, and the feeling that stood out above all others was a tremendous feeling of relief. I knew, absolutely, that it was time for a change.
“Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I have not seen;
Bright skies will soon be o’er me,
Where darkest clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure,
My path in life is free;
My shepherd has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.”
– Laetitia Waring
I recently went to a workshop on “form” and “essence” given by a local life coach named Laura Lavigne. I’d never done any kind of life coach stuff before, and wasn’t sure what to expect. I was a little skeptical, to tell you the truth. But oh my goodness! The thoughts that Laura shared with us were really eye-opening and enlightening. Laura talked about the “form” being the physical something that represents the “essence.” A couch, for instance, might be a form for “comfort.” Laura pointed out that when we talk with each other, we usually talk in terms of “form” rather than “essence.” We ask each other, “Do you want the red shoes or the blue shoes?” When what we might actually be asking each other is what it is we want to feel: “What will those red shoes do for you? And how will that make you feel?” We limit ourselves to the forms, rather than focusing on the essences we want in our lives. And in doing that, we limit ourselves to the forms with which we’re already familiar, and close ourselves up to the infinite possibilities of the other forms we don’t know. To illustrate this, Laura drew a big circle on the whiteboard and cut out a quarter of it – “This is what we know,” Laura said. She cut out another quarter – “This is what we know we don’t know.” The remaining half of the circle? “This,” she said, “is what we don’t know we don’t know. This is where the magic is.”
I love that!
In the book, Lectures and Article on Christian Science, Edward Kimball writes, “It is probable that there will come a time when you will be in quest of professional or business occupation; when you will be in want of a situation. Let us assume that you will be entitled to it and that it will be right for you to be employed righteously and profitably. Such an assumption as this carries with it scientifically the conclusion that if it is right for you to have such a thing, that thing must be in existence and must be available…One of the most influential human conditions is the one which I will call expectancy…You are entitled to the fullness and ampleness of life, but you will need to learn that gloomy foreboding never solves a problem and never releases the influences that make for your largest prosperity and advantage.”
Good isn’t a miracle. It is natural for us to have good in our lives – we shouldn’t be surprised by it. We should expect good.
So here I am – facing The Great Unknown that lies before me. I’m still not sure, specifically, what form the future will take for me, but I know what the essence of it will be. I know there will be freedom, joy, purpose, love, and laughter. Those things can’t be denied me, and they are not dependent on a specific form. As Waring writes in her poem, “My hope I cannot measure…” – the freedom, joy, purpose, love, and laughter that I have now, and are always available to me, can’t be measured, limited, confined or restricted. The future holds boundless possibilities.
“God expresses in man the infinite idea forever developing itself,
broadening and rising higher and higher from a boundless basis.”
– Mary Baker Eddy, from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures