This article was published in December 2010 on ChristianScience.com. Enjoy!
CHRISTMAS RETAIL — A SPIRITUAL PERSPECTIVE
The hustle and bustle of the mall was in full swing for the winter holidays as I walked to the clothing store where I worked. I envied the people I saw sitting on a bench or laughing with a friend. I wanted to relax and have fun, too. I dreaded going to a busy store where I would be on my feet for hours with a fake smile plastered on my face. I had been a seasonal worker for the same retail store for about a year and I deeply disliked the work. If I wasn’t bored, I felt overworked. Each day, I pretended to care about over-priced merchandise, served unappreciative (and sometimes rude) customers, and felt embarrassed when I couldn’t complete a transaction without help from a manager. I would mentally count down the hours until I could go home as soon as I arrived at work. Then, one day, as that familiar feeling of dread swept over me, I decided enough was enough! It was time to change my perspective and turn to God.
I gleaned inspiration from a Bible citation I had heard in both Sunday School and church: “And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31). This quote reminded me that God never created anything bad; God only created good things, so my job had to be a good thing. I affirmed that God always wanted me to be happy. One concept I remember discussing in Sunday School was that God was our divine Parent—our Father-Mother God. The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote a spiritual interpretation of the Lord’s Prayer in Science and Health with key to the Scriptures. She interpreted “Our Father which art in Heaven” as “Our Father-Mother God, all-harmonious” (p. 16). To me this meant God is complete with feminine tenderness and masculine strength, which brings peace because He provides us with unconditional and constant care. I thought about my parents and how they always wanted me to be happy. If I had a divine Parent, I knew I could trust that my Father-Mother provided joy for me at every moment.
As I prayed to see God’s goodness around me, I thought back to a Disneyland trip I had taken several years ago. I remembered that I had felt my happiest on that vacation. However, I realized that I was happy not just because I was at Disneyland, but because I felt protected, energized, loved, and at peace. These spiritual qualities that came to me in such a vivid form at Disneyland were permanent no matter what the human situation seemed to suggest. I knew that every situation was an opportunity from God to be happy. This meant that I could look forward to my job at the retail store as much as I would look forward to a trip to Disneyland!
Psalm 16:11 says: “Thou wilt show me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.” This reminded me that I was entitled to the “fulness of joy” at every moment of my life, and I knew that if I put God first in all that I did, I would see joy.
From then on, I went to work and expected to feel protected, energized, loved, and at peace. The next time I went into the mall, instead of looking enviously at others or feeling burdened, I saw the beautiful holiday decorations, the thoughtful shoppers choosing gifts for loved ones, and the sales associates helping customers—everyone was fulfilling a higher purpose. I saw my own divine purpose at work, too. My fake smile became a genuine expression of joy. I unselfishly served others and felt happy to help people as they sought gifts for family members and friends. I respected my managers and no longer felt embarrassed when I needed help with a transaction.
This change of perspective brought many other healings at work which involved relationships between co-workers and customers. One time, a very kind woman returned a sweater at our store. It was a very busy day and I was forced to hand off the transaction to someone else. It turned out that the sweater the woman had returned was not from our store, and when I discovered this, she had already left. The person who had taken over the transaction said we should hide the sweater and pretend it didn’t happen. However, I knew that I had to stand for what was right. I immediately turned to my divine Parent and knew He would guide me to do the right thing to harmoniously resolve the situation. As I prepared to tell my manager about the mix-up, I saw the woman returning to the store. I handed her the sweater and informed her and my manager about what had happened. I was never condemned and the woman was so grateful. Not only did I feel a sense of love from those around me, but I felt a deeper love that came from my Father-Mother God. I witnessed His guidance and care every step of the way. Because of these experiences, I know that love and joy are ever-present and permanent for all of God’s beloved children. Our Father-Mother God is with us right now to shelter, guide, and provide infinite joy to all His creation.