When I was a child, my mother would quiet my fears of the darkness by telling me there was nothing to fear. When I grew up and the monsters I had been afraid of no longer seemed real to me, there were adult anxieties to take their place. Fear of not being accepted by family members, co-workers, or employers; fear of not having enough time to do a job well; fear of the future; fears growing from a strong personal sense of responsibility. These can put a person in a different kind of darkness, but one that is just as gnawing as the child’s fear of the night.
Like cats fighting in an alley, these anxieties often make enough noise to trouble us, but not enough to make us go out and stop them. When fears start taking the joy out of life, most people look for some kind of temporary release. But wouldn’t it be better to heal these worries instead of living with them or letting them build up into bigger troubles?
In order to get rid of fear, we have to rely on something larger and more capable than a personal ego. The question is not so much “Can I do it?” as “What is the real source of ability and power?” Why would someone as supremely capable as Christ Jesus have said, “I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me” (John 5:30)? He must have found that only by relying on God could he make right judgments and decisions. In naming the source of his abilities he showed us how to gain freedom from our anxieties. He recognized God as the one genuine cause, or Ego, the origin of all true thought and action.
If we are to feel more of God’s power, the mortal ego needs to be silenced. The kind of confidence in God’s government that Jesus had comes with denying the dictates of human will and obeying God’s will. The fears we have often grow because we just don’t want to give up human willfulness or ego. Have you heard yourself think, “I know they won’t like me unless I can please them in some way,” “The workload is more than I can take,” “My life is like a race,” or “My life is empty”? All the worries center around “I” and “me.” It isn’t easy to stop feeling that our success or failure depends on a person, either oneself or someone else, but there is plenty of evidence that people are happier and less fearful when they overcome that false feeling.
Christian Science offers an explanation of God and man that takes away the anxieties caused by the limitations of a false, personal sense of ego. Referring to God as Spirit, a biblical term for Deity (see John 4:24), Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes: “Spirit is the Ego which never dreams, but understands all things; which never errs, and is ever conscious; which never believes, but knows; which is never born and never dies. Spiritual man is the likeness of this Ego” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 250). God is unfailing in goodness, in wisdom, in love, and so man as His likeness can’t have any inadequacies. The wholeness and perfection of the one Ego are always expressed by man.
We can see evidence in our lives of our true spiritual nature, which is obedient to God, unafraid, and unlimited. The higher help Jesus turned to and obeyed is present with us to remove anxieties. It may take patience, through prayer, to dissolve the thoughts that make us feel inadequate to our tasks. But we can, step by step, give up a personal sense of ego with its efforts to survive in a challenging environment and turn to God and His perfect government.
When anxious thoughts crowd in on us, we can rely on God’s power, not mortal abilities, as we go about our duties. We can more consistently honor God as our true Mind, the unerring Mind that governs us. The moments of kindness, unselfishness, and humility in our day all help to free our thoughts from self-entwinement and worry. As dawn displaces night, so does the understanding of the divine Ego and our reflection of it eliminate fears.
Reprinted from the Jan. 6, 1987, issue of The Christian Science Monitor.