You who have so worried over what to do have both welcomed and feared the idea of some kind of service being required of you. . . . To be of service to God is not to be a slave to God but to attend to God. To give God your attention and your care. C: 29.3
I’ve been working diligently on finishing up the audio of ACOL the last week or so. I’ve been at it for the always appropriate nine months, but now I’m on the home stretch. Just a couple of chapters to go, and seeing the end in sight, looking forward to having it done in the next few days. The “end of summer” that August is has been heightened. Later this week I have a friend visiting from out-of-town and the annual family excursion to the Minnesota State Fair. The pressure, you might say, is on.
I have a love/hate affair going with pressure, as most of us likely do. I don’t know if this pressure is better or worse when it is self-imposed. My publisher is a “better sooner than later,” but basically no pressure kind of guy. My pressure comes from within and there are things that happen that make the timing seem right.
This week was exactly this way. You want a reason why you’re feeling the way you do? Well, when you do, often enough, the universe responds. Here it is.
So let me back up. I’ve had a notion for some time of “telling my story” with ACOL, but I wanted to find some writing I knew was around somewhere, that would give me the “actuals.” What was I “really” feeling then…not the “this is how I remember it” kind of thing. This week I found some of my writing from 1998.
I’m working on Chapter 29 or about to, as I find this writing. The date of it is November 5, 1998. I’d been off of work for nearly nine months, awaiting the “work for God” that I felt had been promised me in a dream and emphasized again and again in feelings the strength of which were driving me a little crazy. My family’s finances were horrible and I felt I had to return to work, something that absolutely couldn’t be avoided a minute longer if I was going to be just sitting around waiting. This is what I wrote in my journal of the time:
Please do not leave me here much longer. Help me feel inspired. Help me to feel as if I’m doing what you want me to do. Let me know what you want me to do. Guide me into the world or give me confidence and joy with which to find fulfillment in this small one I’m so loathe to leave. I feel as if I’ve come to this point—so that I’m ready to follow. I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO. MY PLANS AREN’T WORKING. MY WAY IS NOT SO FANTASTIC. I need something now and I know it. I don’t want to give up my quiet and my freedom and my days alone, but I know I need something besides this. I’ve read all these stories about people who said, “God, my life is in your hands. Do with me what you will. Show me the way.” And how their lives immediately changed. Have I not been saying this? Or saying it and not meaning it? If so, I mean it now. I’m “down on my knees.” MY LIFE IS YOURS. PLEASE USE IT. THIS IS WHAT I AM ASKING AND BEGGING. TO BE USED. IT’S TIME FOR ME TO QUIT LOOKING FOR THE USE TO WHICH TO PUT ALL THE THINGS I’VE BEEN GIVEN AND IT’S TIME FOR ME TO BE USED. I CAN’T STAND NOT BEING USED ANYMORE. I MAY NOT KNOW HOW TO GIVE IT, BUT I KNOW I HAVE A LOT TO GIVE. JUST SHOW ME THE WAY LORD. JUST SHOW ME YOUR WAY. THIS IS MY ONE GOAL, MY ONE HOPE—THAT YOU WILL USE ME. I KNOW NOW THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I WILL BE FILLED. THE ONLY WAY I CAN FULFILL YOUR PLAN FOR ME, FILL THE SPACE YOU HAVE OPENED FOR ME HERE ON EARTH IN WHICH TO BE WHO I AM AND DO WHAT I’M MEANT TO DO. JUST USE ME, LORD. PLEASE USE ME. CHOOSE ME. THANK YOU. PLEASE ANSWER THIS PRAYER.
Just about three weeks later, on December 1, 1998, A Course of Love began to come to me.
When I first read that paragraph, I thought asking to be “used” sounded like such “old” language. I was surprised by it, and it gave me pause, even while I thanked God for it. For finding it. I never would have “remembered” asking to be “used” and it felt so poignant as I read it. But then I found this in Chapter 29 (another passage of ACOL I’d forgotten):
You who would cry, God make use of me, only need to give to God your devotion and your willingness to serve instead of use. C:29.3
This whole Chapter has that feel of “old” language. Who does speak of service to God these days? Who thinks in terms of giving God our attention and our care? What could God possibly need . . . or need of us? You and me? A little further on in Chapter 29, this question is answered:
Your gifts, your talents, your uniqueness, are your service. Can you not look at them thus? And can you not come to understand the reciprocal nature of giftedness? That what God has given only needs to be received? That what you have received only needs to be given? The indivisibleness of God is simply this: an unbroken chain of giving and receiving. Thus is this a definition of unity as well. C:29.25
Ben, How amazing to know that you have this cry in you as well, and that you feel each of us do. That each of us want to give everything we’ve got, to be used in the service of love. Thank you for expressing that idea and for the hope it brings. Such cries, I’m sure, are answered!
Paula, there is so much in your reply and I sincerely thank you for it. I love your beginning and the admission of feeling used in the negative sense. That was likely part of my plea to God–to be used in a meaningful way. I’d already felt myself to be “called” and boy did that add to my consternation. It was such an intense time of . . . waiting. Someone asked me about the “receiving” the other day, and honestly, the time of awaiting is more vibrant in my memory.
I do sense, Paula, that there are “times” of life that require and gift us with different things. I love my most ordinary days more than my intense ones, and yet, this place of manifesting is where I find myself for now. It feels like a finite place, even a once in a life-time sort of place…after which, if I am very loved and even more gifted, I may reach the time of harvest you are experiencing in a different way…for this surely is a time of harvest as well…I’m just bringing in the crops still, and setting them out for passersby! (Something like that, anyway!)
Dear Mari, To serve or be used… how many years did I feel used in a negative sense, whether by parents, husbands, God. Mostly because I didn’t know myself or value myself enough to feel worthy of getting in touch with what I wanted and needed. I would try to make sure people liked me (God too) through letting myself be used, leaving me feeling empty and angry. Service indicates freedom to me and is a choice that carries heart and brings fulfilling rewards as in giving and receiving as an unbroken pattern, unity.
Don’t you love your earlier self, wanting with all her heart to be used by God, chosen for God’s work? She knew she was pregnant with something, just not exactly what, and the fullness of time hadn’t come yet.
I remember my former intense self who tried and tried to do what I felt would help God with his world. That self is no longer there. Maybe it’s age, or maybe some spiritual maturing (much gratitude to the part ACOL contributed to that) but now I find myself in a time of so much receiving, harvesting, and any giving just flows out of that and is not a duty or work, just an overflowing. For example my brother-in-law (who is into ACOL) offered to come up from FL and help me with the final moving tasks, then partner me on the 3 day driving of the u-haul to FL with 3 cats. He was an engineer and took up oil painting in retirement and now is a flourishing artist whose supplies cost money and his delight in having me pay for his time plus expenses gives him extra money for his new love/hobby and makes him happy even as I am delighted with expert help with my life!
In an hour, our ACOL sharing group meets at my house for our last gathering before I leave. Then we’ll celebrate with a potluck supper. Our sharing has been so rewarding, some of the women will keep the group going. Giving and receiving in a dance of love.
Thank you Mari, for your dedication, your work to make the audio happen, your dear introspective honesty about your life and so much more! I love you. Paula
This Blog Post is really beautiful and really touched me. It reminded me of the months following completing A Course of Love where I felt new and ready to do ‘anything’ that God asked of Me. I waited and waited. Nothing. Lots of joy and happiness everyday. However no clear ‘movement’.
Around the 4 month mark I received two callings (of the ‘announcement’ type) giving (future) direction. The first calling was to start a Private Practice (I have a Social Work background). The second calling was to offer a Gathering where those feeling joy could share how this was showing up in the world through them. This gathering was called ‘Express your Self’.
Both callings have been enacted. I am still currently in Private Practice. A second gathering occurred at Easter time and now a third calling to be of service in another way has been given (shared in the last Up-date Post on the ‘A Course of Love – Australia’ Facebook Group).
I awoke this morning with a little bit of fear. It was noticed and My practice of moving back to the Homing Beacon (communion) was engaged. Feeling the anxiety of what I am in and what is to come also occurred.
Mari, a sentence and single word in Your Blog Post of your experience in 1998 ‘resonated’ strongly: “MY ONE HOPE—THAT YOU WILL USE ME. I KNOW NOW THIS IS THE ONLY WAY I WILL BE FILLED”. This is the only way I will be FULFILLED. Mm. Yes. The ONLY way I will be fulfilled.
I accept My role and service in the plan of the Atonement: the restoration, or recreation, of a new Heaven on Earth.
Yes, Derek, I remember the feeling of “emptiness” I felt, sitting about, waiting for my calling to come. That is what brought those particular words out of me, I’m sure. Nothing could make a dent in that empty feeling, that feeling that none of my plans were ever going to live up to the notion that had been planted in me, that I had some work to do for God. None of “my” ideas would do. And yet then there is nothing particularly “easy” in doing God’s work! Such faith is called for. I hear your faith and I have faith in you.
Thankyou Mari, too, for your great faith and service in the Atonement.
What a precious sharing! C29.25 says it all…thank you for pointing to that! And thank you so much for sticking to the “job”!!! your prayer could be mine, or rather, you spoke for all of us, I am sure. Amen.