Childlike exuberance—that’s what I was encouraged to sing with at my first singing lesson with a friend from college. As Second Reader, I had been embarrassed that my cracked notes were amplified over the sound system every time I sang a hymn. At that first lesson I was hung up with the mechanics of singing. Then my friend voiced the most liberating truth: “You are trying to make your voice, but GOD has made your voice, and what He makes lasts forever.” Then the childlike voice soared out without cracking.
During the next week this phrase kept coming to me, “The joy that none can take away” (Hymn 139). I put it into practice by choosing joy and being aware of its presence. When I went back for my second lesson, I was much more relaxed. I had a ball.
Where I really saw the benefit of a joyful heart was in my work as a Christian Science nurse. It had a certain client that I had never looked forward to seeing. This client had been verbally and physically abusive to me. After injuring my back for the third time, I’d asked to be removed from the case.
Finally, after more than two weeks of back pain, I began to see how self-righteous I’d been. On page 395 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes, “An ill-tempered, complaining, or deceitful person should not be a nurse. The nurse should be cheerful, orderly, punctual, patient, full of faith, — receptive to Truth and Love.” I began to wake up. I asked myself if I was ready to love my client unconditionally, or only on the condition that she be more helpful and less grumpy. Yes, I was ready. The next time I visited this client I was really moved by love for her. I let go of my own agenda and also the fear of injury. That day I realized I was no longer in pain.
Working with this client has been a lot better, but what I experienced after my second singing lesson was amazing. After that lesson I was just filled with joy. THIS is what I brought into my client’s home rather than dread. The client was adamant about wanting to stay asleep, but I KNEW that what I needed to provide for her was really a blessing. She reacted as she had before, but my joy did not wane. The walk to the dining room provided opportunities to express gratitude for the wonderful Godlike qualities that she was expressing—strength, balance, activity, and so forth. At lunchtime she accepted each bite willingly. Toward the end of the meal, she mentioned some discomfort, but that gave me an opportunity to speak to her about God’s Motherhood and how that Mother would never leave her comfortless or in pain. My client agreed.
As I was helping my client back to bed, she decided to sit down a foot away from the bed, which was what had happened when I injured my back the three times before. Yet my joy was unshaken. Then I was overcome with the deepest, most honest sense of love for my client. I said, “Here, take my hands and help me by walking backwards.” This was done with complete peace, even though she was very close to going down on the floor. No panic, no raised voices… just peace, love, and joy. She sat on the bed just where I needed her to, and I was quickly able to settle her in. I had so much love for her as I kissed her forehead and she thanked me.
Nothing had changed but bringing genuine, un-manufactured joy with me. The same challenges were presented, but my joy couldn’t be taken from me. It enabled me to interact with love (not the sickly sweet stuff, but the compassion that moved Jesus) rather than react. And it enabled my client…to thank me.