Off to college – the great unknown?

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

Soon many people will be beginning their long anticipated first year of college, and their questions may seem endless. Will I make friends? Will the classes be too hard? Am I up to the pressure to perform? What will my roommate be like? But with prayer, it's possible to go with confidence into what is – for the moment – the unknown.

Facing what's unfamiliar with the knowledge that God loves us and will always be with us – and that we are His children – makes a huge difference. And each of us is loved by God, no matter what kind of unknown we're heading into.

Whether it's getting along with college roommates or with obnoxious siblings, confidence in God's love helps you feel completely at ease. Even if you don't think you have a relationship with God or you believe that you can't feel His presence in your life, you actually are never far from His love. Prayer can help you develop a deeper awareness that Love is with you wherever you are and under all circumstances.

Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of this newspaper, wrote a book that's fundamental to finding answers to life's many questions. In this book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she wrote a description of the word unknown, which is very helpful. It reads in part, "That which spiritual sense alone comprehends, and which is unknown to the material senses. Paganism and agnosticism may define Deity as 'the great unknowable;' but Christian Science brings God much nearer to man, and makes Him better known as the All-in-all, forever near" (p. 596).

In our prayers, then, we can ask God to reveal Himself to us as divine Love, as our Father-Mother, friend, and helper. We can also identify with God, Love, by expressing qualities of kindness and generosity and acknowledging them in others. This is putting spiritual sense into action. As we pray to know God as our Father-Mother, we become conscious of His comforting care for us, even in little ways. Turning in gratitude to God as our divine Parent, we're able to hear the messages of Love and feel Love's hand guiding us.

The Bible promises continual reassurance and fulfillment of hope. A verse from Isaiah reads, "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (41:10). Praying with this kind of understanding puts an end to fear.

A young woman was traveling halfway across the country to start her freshman year at a city university. Living in a city was very unfamiliar to her, and this was a huge school with 100 students living on each floor of the dorm. Although she was a freshman, she learned that she was going to have two sophomore roommates. What if they didn't like her? It was all a little daunting.

When her parents drove away, she was already feeling a twinge of homesickness. She decided right then and there that she was not going to look back, but forward into the good that was surrounding her. She knew that her Father-Mother God was with her, giving only good instead of sadness, fear, and confusion. That was her simple prayer.

Her experience was not without its challenges, but as she made a point of being honest, open, and uncritical of her fellow students and loving those same qualities in them, she was soon feeling at home, taking part in extracurricular activities, and meeting new people. And her roommates became her friends. They told her later that they enjoyed having her there.

Life includes a lot of great unknowns. But in each case, we can let spiritual sense guide us and reveal the abundant goodness already surrounding us. And with this knowledge we can go forward with confidence.

Be strong and of a good courage,
fear not, nor be afraid of them:
for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee;
he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Deuteronomy 31:6

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