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Back to school with confidence

A Christian Science perspective.

By Janet Hegarty / September 6, 2011



Several days ago while out for a morning walk, I saw that it was the first day of school. I found myself surrounded by eager children carrying backpacks loaded with new supplies. Parents were pouring out last-minute instructions and encouraging those who were reluctant. The air was thick with eager anticipation and parental concerns.

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The scene reminded me of the first time I took my children to the elementary school a block from our home. Instead of the first day of school, however, it was March, and we were new not only to the neighborhood but to the state. My husband had started a job in the area that fall, but because we’d had difficulty selling our home, the children and I hadn’t arrived until spring. As a result, on their first day at this school, they faced classrooms with well-established routines and friendships – and not a single familiar face.

Before my husband had even applied for this job, we had both been praying. We each had a desire to grow in our understanding of God’s goodness and to prove the presence of this goodness in our lives more consistently. We felt this progressive move was a natural outcome of our prayers.

Even so, I was concerned about the children’s transition. While growing up I lived at the same address until I was 18, and now I wanted my children to have this same type of continuity, which had given me a sense of security and belonging. I didn’t want them to feel as if their lives had been capriciously uprooted. My concern was primarily about my daughter, who was in second grade. She had already developed a close circle of friends at her old school, and these girls did everything together – they were like sisters. The thought that she would have to leave these friends disturbed me. To make matters worse, the nine months we’d waited for our home to sell had prolonged the sad good-byes.

As these worries loomed, I again turned to prayer. Often when I pray, or mentally reach out to God, I find it helpful to be very still and to listen with the expectation that God, who is Love, is communicating His love to me. The thoughts that came to me at the time were based on this verse from the Bible: “ ‘Am I a God near at hand,’ says the Lord, ‘and not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the Lord; ‘Do not I fill heaven and earth?’ says the Lord” (Jer. 23:23, 24, New King James Version). It occurred to me that God was the source of all the goodness the children enjoyed in our present location, and that God would also be the source of all the goodness they would enjoy in our new location.

In the Glossary of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Monitor, the word “good” is defined as “God; Spirit; omnipotence; omnipresence, omni-action” (p. 587). This thought reinforced my new inspiration. Since good is God, goodness is ever present; it cannot be in one place but not in another. The presence, power, and perfect love of God fill all space and time. This thought made me feel confident that, even though the children would be in a new school, they would continue to experience consistent goodness. The eternal good that is God is always fully expressed.

Soon I realized I was no longer fearful about my daughter’s transition. Instead, I was grateful to know that God had already provided abundant good for her in our new neighborhood.

At the end of her first day at the new school, my daughter happily raced out to meet me with three new friends, who had invited her to join their Girl Scout troop. She attended her first Girl Scout meeting that same day. These girls continued to be her close friends for many years. Soon, I also discovered that two friends I had known in college lived in our new neighborhood and had children at the elementary school. I was very grateful to realize how my prayers had awakened me to a more vibrant sense of God’s ever-present goodness.

As this new school year begins, I’m reminded that the same divine Love that met my daughter’s need is meeting every student’s need, lovingly embracing both children and parents in ever-present goodness.

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