THROUGHOUT my early adulthood, I suffered from the paralyzing effects of irrational fears. Anxiety haunted so many areas of my life: I was afraid of criticism, of driving, of public speaking, of offending people, of crime. There didn't seem to be anything I didn't worry about. I felt little security. Even though I knew many of my fears were groundless, I seemed unable to do anything about them. Finally I was confronted with the need to play the piano in public. I'd been given a book, a copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, and I came across it at this moment of desperation. Previously I had believed that religion had no immediate relevance to anything I was doing. But as I read this time with an open mind, I quickly realized that the anxieties and fears I had been suffering were the consequence of trying to li ve a life apart from God. I learned that my relationship to God could become a living, practical reality.
By the time I was halfway through the book, so many of my fears had dropped away that I was a new person. I was beginning to let God lead me in my life. And I was learning to drop the view of myself as a mortal mixture of good and bad.
The truth is that the source of our confidence and ability is not our own strength but God. Man's true identity is spiritual, the image and likeness of God. Therefore everyone's identity is as changeless spiritually as God is changeless. And we can echo the trust the Psalmist had in God when he sang: "The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.''
Fear suggests that there is a place where God is not. But the Bible tells us numerous times not to be afraid, to trust confidently in God, divine Love. And the first letter of John in the New Testament assures us, "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear.''
Christ Jesus' boldness and fearlessness were grounded in his inseparable unity with God. And as I read Jesus' Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's Gospel, I began to gain a more spiritual view of man--of myself--as God's beloved child, precious and valuable; governed, provided for, and protected by God's law of love. I realized that one of our reasons for being 209&gt;or for doing anything--is to love one another as God loves us. And the exaggerated sense of sin and evil that had so haunted me began to lose its power over me in the face of my growing understanding of the omnipresence and omnipotence of God.
While it didn't happen overnight, I have overcome fear of speaking and performing in public as I have seen these activities as opportunities to give and share ideas from God. And every time I am learning more to love the audience as my nearest neighbors and children of God. When playing the piano in public I now rejoice in the opportunity to use my God-given ability to bless and benefit my fellowman. As I have learned to rely on God more, many fears have fallen away.
The more love I express, the less fear I feel. Mrs. Eddy says in Miscellaneous Writings: "Divine Love is our hope, strength, and shield. We have nothing to fear when Love is at the helm of thought, but everything to enjoy on earth and in heaven.'' When we are conscious of our unbreakable unity with God, we have God-given dominion over whatever would intimidate us. Yes, and we find joy in loving and sharing!