Strength and comfort during life’s changes
A Christian Science perspective: How prayer helped overcome anxieties about going to college far from home.
As I’ve enjoyed the onset of summer, I’ve been reminded of a very different summer years ago that was anything but enjoyable – the summer after I graduated from high school. Everything in my life was about to change permanently, and I had no idea what the changes would bring. One beautiful summer day, I drove up to the foothills in California, where I lived, and found myself wondering why I wanted to go to college on the other side of the country, far away from my friends, loved ones, and everything I was familiar with. What was going to happen to my life?
I struggled with feelings of anxiety, sorrow, and heartbreak, so I turned to the teachings of Christian Science to gain the spiritual understanding that I knew would bring me peace. I spoke with Sunday school teachers and studied my Bible and the Christian Science textbook, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” by Mary Baker Eddy, and I came to grasp some simple truths about God that reassured me as I prepared to move forward.
One truth in particular ended up making all the difference: that God is infinite and fills all space.
As I thought about this, I realized that if God, divine Love, was present with me in California, then surely Love would be present with me wherever I might go. Because God is infinite Spirit, we are always in the presence of God, anywhere and everywhere, even when we don’t realize it. I recognized that we can never be outside the care and embrace of divine Love.
As the Bible says, “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?…If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalms 139:7, 9, 10).
I thought of all the times I had felt love in my life – from family members, friends, and girlfriends. I had been afraid that by moving away from those individuals, I would be losing love. But my study of Christian Science made me ask myself: Where does love come from? Are human beings the source of love? Was love a physical thing that could be lost?
I realized love is spiritual, and it comes from God. God is Love itself, and God is infinite, so Love is infinite – is everywhere. It is always with us and expressed in us.
This uplifted spiritual understanding gave me the poise and strength I needed to move across the country and start college. However, I did occasionally struggle with homesickness and loneliness. One winter night was particularly trying. I returned to my dorm room and discovered I did not have my cellphone. The phone contained the only contact information I had for my family members and all my friends. This was before Facebook, and even e-mail was still a major innovation, so without my cellphone I felt totally cut off from everyone back home.
I immediately began to pray, affirming the truth that I could never be separated from the love of God, and I refused to accept that one iota of God’s love could be taken from me.
A college friend and I went searching, and he called my phone as we retraced my steps for about half a mile. A blizzard was under way, and we were walking along a busy highway with the loud noise of cars and a subway nearby. I knew my phone was probably buried under the snow, and that my only hope of hearing it ring was if my ear were right next to it. But as we looked, I felt God’s love with me and a total sense of calm and peace. A strong intuition came to me to lean down next to the train tracks – about 50 feet beyond where I’d exited the subway – and start digging in the snow. And right there, two inches under the snow, I heard my phone ring!
That simple proof of God’s unfailing love and tender omnipresence has continued to encourage me through many subsequent transitions in my life, many of which have been far more complex. But even when times have seemed rocky, I’ve always come to see them as evidence of the truth that Science and Health assures us of: “Each successive stage of experience unfolds new views of divine goodness and love” (p. 66).