When our son called from the departure lounge at the airport to say goodbye, there was understandably a bit of apprehension in his voice. Now a young adult, he was soon to take off, traveling independently of us, to another continent for the first time, like many young people who study abroad or go to other continents for such projects as community service.
I felt some apprehension too. During his time abroad, our son would be outside the sphere of our immediate assistance if a difficult situation arose. But I’m grateful to say that quickly following that feeling of apprehension, I felt the conviction that God’s protection and presence would be with him, so his time abroad would be safe and worthwhile. This feeling resulted from my study of Christian Science and the many ways it has helped me and my family over the years.
These days it has become more common for younger students to travel abroad, and many parents have apprehensions. Parents who might feel it wasn’t long ago when they were reading their children “The Runaway Bunny,” the children’s classic that illustrates how it’s impossible for a baby rabbit to escape its mother’s love, are now faced with airport goodbyes as their sons or daughters head for distant lands.
It’s not always easy to find the balance between being relaxed enough to allow one’s growing children the freedom they may need to develop, and being “helicopter parents” – a term coined recently to describe overprotective mothers and fathers who hover over their offspring.
Christian Science provides valuable tools to help everyone find peace of mind and to pray and experience protection and well-being, whether they’re at home or abroad. In “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mary Baker Eddy assured us: “When we wait patiently on God and seek Truth righteously, He directs our path” (p. 254). By listening for divine guidance and direction, intelligent decisions can be made regarding travel for young people – whether they should go, where they go, when, and with whom.
During our son’s time abroad, he let us know that he was grateful that the trip was going smoothly. The fact that no challenges emerged was wonderful evidence of the effectiveness of prayer. The night before coming home, though, he called to say that he was apprehensive about the trip back. During his time away, he had been with others who spoke the local language. Now he was concerned that not speaking the language could prove difficult while traveling alone, especially if a difficulty arose. I reassured him that God had been present with him during his stay and would be present with him on his journey home.
That night the healing conviction clearly came to me that there was in God’s presence no “foreign” experience, and that in spite of the language differences and other stumbling blocks there need not be a barrier to the expression of goodwill between people. I’m grateful that his return journey was peaceful.
This divine guidance and direction from the Bible can be tangibly felt when contemplating decisions regarding travel: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” asks the Psalmist, who concluded that there was nowhere he could go where he would not be in God’s presence. “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Ps. 139:7-10).
The protection and love of our Father-Mother God is omnipresent, a power that transcends the boundaries and limitations of time and distance. That protection is with each child of God wherever he or she may go. God’s love is never oppressive, smothering, or selfish. And when an activity is rightly motivated, there can be confidence that God will bless those who are endeavoring to reflect His goodness, mercy, and grace.