The anxiety attack hit unexpectedly. I had just traveled across the country for a two-month job, leaving my seven-year-old son with family a thousand miles away. Although the relatives he was visiting loved him very much, they didn't know him that well, and weren't used to his sometimes unpredictable antics.
I was suddenly hit with the fear that he would try something dangerous, and that I wouldn't be there to foresee it and protect him. The feeling of panic and helplessness was abrupt and overwhelming.
When your children are away from you, do you have to accept that you have no influence over their situation; that the best you can do is get accustomed to the worry? Do you steel yourself for inevitable mishaps, knowing, intellectually, that they aren't your fault - but feeling, emotionally, that you're nevertheless guilty?
It could be daycare, it could be summer camp, it could be college. Parents face these issues every day. How do we keep our peace of mind while still being responsible, caring guardians for the rising generation?
For me, it took the rest of the evening (and some of the night) to wrestle with my fears - and trust my son to God's care. I believe that we are each children of God, having the same Father-Mother, the same Parent. I believe that God is omnipresent, filling all space, and that we are His/Her reflection.
With this perspective, I saw that I could change my concept of my son from that of a small, at-risk, biological being to the very creation of God - invulnerable, intelligent, wise, and strong. And I could think of myself as the expression of the divine Mind - receptive to God's sound guidance in my decisionmaking for the family. God was (and is) guiding us both; our Parent wouldn't allow me to make arrangements that might be inadequate or dangerous. God's guidance was also right there to keep my son from doing anything foolish or disobedient. I could trust that the rightness I had felt about accepting that job couldn't lead to harm.
A passage from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Mary Baker Eddy - in which Life and Soul are synonyms for God - was helpful to me in regaining my peace and assurance: "If Life or Soul and its representative, man, unite for a period and then are separated as by a law of divorce to be brought together again at some uncertain future time and in a manner unknown, - and this is the general religious opinion of mankind, - we are left without a rational proof of immortality. But man cannot be separated for an instant from God, if man reflects God. Thus Science proves man's existence to be intact" (pg. 306).
The state of being sometimes together, sometimes apart, is wholly a function of the material universe. It's our physical bodies that give us the impression that we can be separate from each other. But we are spiritual children of God! We are one with our creator. And unity with God implies no separation - either from our Parent or from each other.
St. Paul's words from the Bible say much the same thing: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 39).
If I am not separated from the love of God, and you are not separated from the love of God, doesn't that mean we're together? We are, spiritually, together in Love. This applies to our children as well.
This reasoning was my prayer. Through it, I gained the insight that my son and I are actually together always, because the one God is with both of us at all times. I lost my fear for him. Over the following weeks, our frequent conversations on the phone were full of details about our respective adventures.
When we were reunited, he was safe and healthy (as well as demonstrably more responsible). He was taller! And I had grown, too, to trust God more.
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