On pressing the panic button
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
I live in a city where many people wear a panic button around their neck. If you push the button, an armed representative from an alarm company will arrive at your doorstep in minutes to protect you. Last week, I was admonished for not wearing a panic button while I went about my administrative job at our church.
A man had come in and cornered me with his list of demands. He and I were alone in the church foyer, and as the conversation continued, he became increasingly agitated and aggressive. After explaining repeatedly that I couldn't help him, he finally left. When my church board found out about this incident, they were afraid for my safety - a woman working alone in a large, empty building - and asked me to start wearing a panic button. One person said, "You were so vulnerable. You mustn't do that."
Inside I disagreed. It went against all of my natural instincts to think that I was vulnerable and to base future actions on fear. I'd been raised knowing that a name for God is "Love" - and I knew this loving God would never let me be in a vulnerable position. The Bible reassures us, "Am I a God at hand, saith the Lord, and not a God afar off?" (Jer. 23:23). I knew that, because divine Love fills all space, I could never be out of that Love, that protection and care. And neither could anyone else.
Another name for God I like to use when I pray is "Mind." The book of Genesis in the Bible teaches us that God made man in His own image. So each of us, made in the image of the one infinite good, Mind, can expect harmony and brotherhood to accompany all of our activities. Mary Baker Eddy partially describes Mind in her book "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "The only I, or Us ... the one God ... of whom man is the full and perfect expression" (page 591).
How perfect! In the face of fear, perceiving "him vs. me," here was the perfect antidote - that God is the only "Us." The man I'd met in the church, while aggressive, had done me no harm. We'd met and parted without incident.
Last summer, while walking alone in a big park with my dog, I had a similar experience. A man appeared from out of nowhere, called to me, and made an inappropriate sexual overture. I turned away and kept walking. I was afraid at first, but quickly started declaring what I knew was true - the allness of God and the perfection of God's creation. I knew both of us were made by God, and that the man could not harm me.
Mrs. Eddy wrote in Science and Health, "All of God's creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible" (page 514). I knew that both this man and I were included in the harmony of God's creation.
As I prayed, I became peaceful, and the fear diminished. And when I looked back, he was gone. I don't know whether he had any evil intent beyond the rude gesture. But the peace instead of panic that I felt while driving home was a sign to me that I was being cared for and loved by God.
I realized later that by declaring my freedom from vulnerability - and both men's freedom from potentially harming me - I'd obeyed the Ninth Commandment, "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour." I didn't bear false witness against myself or either of the men. I refused to see myself as vulnerable and them as harmful. Instead, I bore witness - saw - the men and myself as God sees us: perfect, harmless, safe, and loving.
Surrounded by God's care, God's infinite love, we are each protected and supported. Not vulnerable. Not scared. Not interested in harming anyone. Instead, all of us are provided for, comforted, and blessed by our one God, Mind. We can go about our day confidently and joyfully, certain of God's protection and love for everyone. We can rejoice that God is, indeed, at hand.
The Lord is my strength
and my shield;
my heart trusted in him,
and I am helped.