A SURE THING
By: Ginny Luedeman
August 25, 2003
The carnival was in town. My girlfriend and I decided
to take my five-and-a-half-year-old son so he could go on some rides.
I put my baby daughter in her backpack, packed a lunch, and off we
all went for a day of fun. It was a beautiful fall day. My friend and
I loved watching the children whirling around on the rides, and we
all laughed at the clowns.
As we wandered away from the ride area, a barker in a game booth caught me attention. He urged me to take a chance on the nickel toss. If I won, I’d have a big teddy bear. If I was lucky--or skilled--enough to toss a nickel into the circle, maybe I could win the bear. My husband and I couldn’t afford to buy anything like that, and I would have loved to give one to my little son. But our budget was so tight that we had to count every penny. Even just my going to the carnival was a stretch.
I looked at the nickel in my hand. It as the last one I had with me. Then I looked up at the big stuffed animal hanging overhead, and I impulsively flung the nickel at the circle. But it just rolled off the table and into the side pocket to join the nickels tossed by other hopeful parents.
By then my friend was ready to go, and after losing my last nickel, so was I. As I got into my friend’s big sedan, I closed the heavy door with a hard tug--right on my foot. I don’t cry easily, but my foot hurt so much I couldn’t stop the tears. My friend prayed quietly for me while she drove me home--both she and I had been studying Christian Science for a while--reading and thinking about ideas from the Bible and Science and Health. We were finding prayer to be helpful in all kinds of situations, even in healing sickness and injuries. When we arrived at my house, since I couldn’t put any weight on my foot, she helped me get into bed, and put the kids down for a nap. Then she left.
I picked up a Christian Science Sentinel from beside my bed and decided to read it while the children napped. I had less than two hours to be healed before my life as a mother of young children would kick back in. I really needed to be on my feet--both of them--to keep up with the kids.
Before opening the Sentinel, I prayed earnestly to God, listening for His loving help with an open mind and a willing heart. I wanted to get a better grasp on God’s love. The day had been so perfect, until I shut the car door on my foot. What could I do to feel closer to God again?
As I said, for some time before this, I had been learning beautiful things about God and His care for all of us, His children. As a mother, I had had wonderful proofs that God’s love and power were constant and could be appealed to in every situation where we needed help. I loved knowing that God provided me and everyone with all we needed. I loved, too, the sheer happiness of awakening to the spiritual fact that this truth brings about changes for the better in everyday life.
I realized that, damaged as my foot appeared to be, what was really going on that needed my attention--my prayer--was that I was believing there was a loss of control and order in my life. That’s what my hurt foot symbolized to me. The pain made me feel that I had slipped out of God’s love and care.
Well, just as a mother, I knew that a loving parent would never create the kind of circumstance I was in. And God, as our heavenly Parent and the totality of divine Love…well, just think how impossible it would be for such a Father-Mother to allow a situation that would leave even one of His children out of His comforting care and control.
So what could I do to become more aware that it was impossible for me to be out of god’s control? When I opened the Sentinel to the first article, I saw that it was about gambling. Its message went straight to my heart. And I thought about the nickel.
Of course, the nickel itself was not what was pulling me away from feeling close to God--the problem was my hoping for that nickel to bring something good to me. And when I missed the target, I had believed I was not lucky enough or skilled enough for the “something good” I had been hoping for.
That attitude was completely opposed to what I had been finding out about God--a God I loved so much and depended upon for my every need. How could a God who is Love and the totally reliable source of goodness ever need luck or chance, or even my talent, as a means to take care of me? I would never have lined up all six of my children and told them they could have something they wanted or needed if they were lucky enough or clever enough to get it, and then let only one out of the six be the “winner”. My children would not have trusted or even loved me if I had treated them that way.
So what in the world had I been thinking when I went along with the idea of a chancy source of goodness by tossing that nickel? Certainly I hadn’t been thinking clearly, let alone with the humility and gratitude that would make me recognize God’s great love for His children.
Again, I found it helpful to consider the symbolic nature of the day’s events. The teddy bear represented joy and delight. And I knew our son had those in abundance. They were part of his spiritual nature, put there by God, who is the source of all joy and delight. The bear meant softness and comfort. Again, I thought, god always keeps us in touch with those spiritual qualities. So, really, I had all of the “teddy bear” qualities I needed, and so did our son--at every moment. He and I didn’t have to have a stuffed toy to represent them, and even if a teddy bear did need to be in our life, it would come to us in a natural way.
God’s love is a presence that literally fills all space. It is spiritual and unconditional. Anything that is not done or made by God, including accidents or neediness, is not actual, but a mistake about reality. These negative concepts are nothing appearing to be something.
At this point, I was getting a much clearer picture of what had really been going on that day. I had been seeing my family as not having all it needed, and thinking a lucky toss of a nickel could change that. I began to see that what would really make me feel solid and safe was a complete trust in God as the real substance my family needed.
Suddenly, I was in tears again. But this time it wasn’t because of an injured, painful foot. It was because the pain had vanished completely, and I felt as if I were sitting in the lap of God with His arms around me. I asked forgiveness for turning away from what I understood Him to be. The love I had begun to feel as I prayed was all the evidence I needed of His forgiveness. So I just jumped up, did a little dance on my foot--which was now free from pain and swelling--and waltzed right back into my role of mom.
My foot gave me no more trouble. I was certain I was grounded in a solid Principle, which I knew was God--a Parent I could depend on to care for each one of us and give us all we needed.
Never again have I been tempted to think that God’s gifts need to be won or even earned All of His goodness is ours because of our relationship to Him as His sons and daughters. What God gives is forever--just waiting to be discovered and used. We can never lose anything God gives. Nobody and no thing can take it from us; even a poor investment can’t deplete what God gives, because His gifts are always spiritual, the very substance of all that we can possibly hope for.
My poorly invested nickel really turned out to be worth a fortune because of what it taught me. That day at the carnival showed me how rich I really was. And while my kids have had many teddy bears since then, I continue to love what I learned from the one I couldn’t take home with me.
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