Can you identify with any of these scenarios?
*After a period of absence from your work or home, you want to avoid your piled-up mail or telephone messages because you aren't sure what bad news they contain.
*When you don't hear from someone in a while, you begin to think of all the reasons why they may be mad at you.
*You wish you knew the ending to books or movies, so you could relax and enjoy them instead of speculating on who will have something terrible happen to him or her.
You may suspect that I have a tendency to imagine the worst. If my boss says she wants to see me and doesn't tell me what it's about, I rarely think, "Oh boy, I bet she's going to give me a raise!" Instead, I wonder what I may have done wrong. Then I wonder where I'll go after she fires me.
That's the kind of imagination I've felt prone to having.
But I've learned to tackle this torment of anxiety with a weapon that is quick and effective for me. I fight off the fear with what I know about God. I pray. And when I pray, I don't plead with God. I really have a thorough conversation in which I confide my fears to Him.
I've come to think of God as both a Father and Mother, a loving and powerful presence in my life, able to help with issues both big and small. God is good. In the Bible, Paul speaks of "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God" (II Cor. 10:5). With so many ways to think of the outcome or future, why spend the energy wondering and planning for the worst?
I have come to think of the future as part of a loving, growing process that will only bring good, because God's power is greater than any other. Instead of dreading what's ahead, I try to embrace each moment with eager expectation, not fearful anticipation of something painful - trusting God to provide me with opportunities, not punishments. I've come to expect change to bring a blessing. (Actually, the only time I really was fired - and we won't go into that - it turned out to point me in a whole new career direction that I loved!)
The woman who founded this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote a book titled "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." And in reference to Christian Science, by which she meant God's laws of healing, she wrote, "Science reveals the possibility of achieving all good, and sets mortals at work to discover what God has already done; but distrust of one's ability to gain the goodness desired and to bring out better and higher results, often hampers the trial of one's wings and ensures failure at the outset" (pg. 260).
In thinking about this statement, I've needed to understand that imagining the worst is another way of distrusting one's ability to understand that God's will for us is always good. I haven't always felt able to accept myself as someone who is worthy to be a recipient of His love. But leaning on Him when I have problems, and seeing that the outcome blesses me no matter what the situation, I've started to see that I am a loved child of God. Good from God is an inheritance I can count on. Feeling close to Him is a comfort that helps me release doubtful, fearful thinking.
Now as I have my daily chats with God, I find myself confiding more joy and gratitude, and less and less fear and anxiety. Maybe you'd like to give yourself a break from imagining the worst, too. The confidence that God wants only the best for you can give you that expectation of the good that is here today - and in the future.
For I know the thoughts that
I think toward you, saith
the Lord, thoughts of peace,
and not of evil, to give
you an expected end.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society