I’ve settled into my new apartment in Atlanta, and now I’m in full job-search mode. Let me tell you, it’s a jungle out there! But my Course practice has been extremely helpful — in particular, a couple of lines that emphasize the fact that my real protection comes not from my own efforts to hack my way through the underbrush and keep the man-eating tigers at bay, but from the boundless love and care of God.
The way sure looks daunting, because the job market is tight, and so many people are looking for work. Today, I was at a mass hiring event for a new retail store that is opening in my area. There must have been hundreds of people there. I filled out an application and waited two and a half hours for someone to interview me.
When I finally got to the interview, the interviewer said that all they had were part-time jobs with a maximum of 20 hours per week (some weeks it might only be 4 hours), even though the ad I answered said there were also full-time jobs available. The jobs paid only $7.00/hour. (All the job ads say their company has “competitive pay.” Translation: “We pay the same slave wages as everyone else.”)
After the interview, I went to open a new bank account and saw on the television there that major corporations had announced 40,000 layoffs today, with more to come. As Bart Simpson says, “Aye Carumba!”
At times like this, I thank God I’m a Course student. I would be terrified if I thought I was totally on my own. But I’ve been practicing with a couple of lines that have been extremely helpful.
The first is one I came up with after our recent CCC class on Section 16 of the Manual. That section emphasizes that we should spend our days dwelling on “a thought of pure joy; a thought of peace, a thought of limitless release, limitless because all things are freed within it” (M-16.6:2). That thought could be paraphrased this way: I’ve tried to fend for myself without God, but this is “magic” that is doomed to failure. Fortunately, though, I don’t need to fend for myself, because God protects me in all circumstances — I am always perfectly safe because He is my “real protection” (6:14).
The next paragraph describes the joy of truly accepting our real protection:
“How simply and how easily does time slip by for the teacher of God who has accepted His protection! All that he did before in the name of safety no longer interests him. For he is safe, and knows it to be so. He has a Guide Who will not fail. He need make no distinctions among the problems he perceives, for He to Whom he turns with all of them recognizes no order of difficulty in resolving them. He is as safe in the present as he was before illusions were accepted into his mind, and as he will be when he has let them go. There is no difference in his state at different times and different places, because they are all one to God. This is his safety. And he has no need for more than this.”
What a wonderful state of mind that would be! So, the first line I’ve been practicing is a simple one that I created based on this section: “I accept my real protection.” I’ve supplemented that practice with a first-person version of a favorite passage from the Text with a similar theme: “I need be neither careful nor careless; I need merely cast my cares upon Him because He careth for me. I am His care because He loves me.” I especially like to use these lines whenever I’m tempted to think I’m subject to the law of the job-hunting jungle.
So today, while I waited hours for my interview, I repeated these lines over and over again. When I talked with others who were waiting, I would silently apply versions of these lines to them: “You are His care because He loves you.” I tried to see the other job seekers not as competitors, but as compatriots who are being taken care of by our loving Father, just as I am. I even applied these lines to the interviewer.
I have to say, this practice has truly worked wonders for me. As I write this, I can honestly say that I feel no fear at all around this issue. I feel deep in my heart that God really loves and cares for all of us, that He has a plan for all of our lives, and that to the degree we can get in touch with His plan, all will be well.
So, tomorrow I head out again for another day in the jungle. But whenever I am tempted to “return to earlier attempts to place reliance on [myself] alone” (M-16.8:5), I am resolved to remind myself of my real protection. Thank you, my Father, for Your infinite love and care for all of Your children.