A ladder out of anxiety
A Christian Science perspective: Anyone can find peace through understanding his or her true nature.
—My Facebook feed continually puts out the prompt, “What’s on your mind?” It’s a harmless enough question designed to spark discussion, much of which can be uplifting and helpful. But for some of us, the problem is having “too much” on our mind, keeping us in a seemingly endless loop of anxiety. It’s even been argued that the 24-hour news cycle and nonstop social media buzz are contributing to anxiety disorders.
Many are trying to cope with anxiety through medication or various meditation and relaxation techniques. But we surely want to do more than simply cope. To that end, I’ve been grateful to learn that an enduring, spiritual peace is available for each of us – peace that originates in God, our Father-Mother, who is divine Mind. I’ve come to understand that God’s thoughts, Mind’s spiritual ideas, are ever present to comfort us – and even to heal anxiety, or to prevent it in the first place.
Many years ago, a man named Jacob was on the run, afraid for his life. He feared that his twin brother was pursuing him to seek vengeance, possibly to kill him. Alone in the wilderness, he laid stones for his pillow. Perhaps his wearisome fears were even more uncomfortable than those stones. Nevertheless, Jacob fell asleep, and he dreamed of a ladder “set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven” and he saw “the angels of God ascending and descending on it.” Finally, God appeared at the top of the ladder and spoke to Jacob, who then awoke with a sense of awe and reverence, reassured that God was with him. And what Jacob had perceived and feared as a threat turned out to be a blessing.
This is from the story of Jacob and Esau in the Bible (see Genesis 28:10-16), and it’s helped me see more clearly that none of us need be a slave to anxiety. We have a “ladder” to reach the recognition of God’s saving presence! “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness,” explained Christian Science Founder Mary Baker Eddy (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 332). Christ describes the holy, divine influence that heals – showing God to be always right where we are.
Christ Jesus felt that nearness to God and said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). It was through Jesus’ understanding of our oneness with the divine Mind – and through his pure humility and meekness – that he maintained his sense of spiritual peace and helped others to find theirs also. When we welcome the divine influence into our hearts, we come to see that anxious thoughts are actually foreign to our true nature as God’s spiritual reflection.
On this basis, I’ve found I can say “no” to feelings of anxiety and “yes” to God’s “angel” messages, affirming God’s guidance and protection for my own and everyone’s life. In my own experience I’ve seen nagging feelings of unrest give way to the healing touch of the Christ, chasing the shadows away and awakening me to my native joy. Finding release from anxiety and fear in this way enables us to say, with gratitude, that what we have on our mind is the spiritual peace we reflect from the divine Mind, God. This uplifted sense can stay with us even in the midst of troubling news.