Finding freedom after the shock of an aggressive encounter

After a fellow college student drunkenly tried to force himself into her room, today’s contributor found peace, strength, and freedom from lingering anxiety as she gained a new view of herself as God’s loved child.

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He was a handsome senior and I was a naive freshman when we met at a fall college mixer. I was flattered that he invited me, a shy girl from the Midwest, to visit him at his school. At the time we were both attending single-sex colleges in the Northeast, and it was common for young women to travel to men’s colleges for the weekend.

The first weekend I visited him, he acted very respectfully, including finding me a respectable place to stay. But the next weekend turned into a very unfortunate, frightening experience; he was drunk, and I only just managed to avert his attempt to force himself into my motel room.

I was deeply shaken by what happened and was grateful I’d been able to fend off his aggressive advances. But this experience, along with the shyness and other jumbled feelings at the time (loneliness, confusion, anxiety, and difficulty in adjusting to college) led me to frequently call home in tears.

Finally, during one call, some thoughts shared by my dad gave me confidence that comfort and healing could be found by looking deeper for a solution. I began going to a Christian Science Sunday School, which I had sporadically attended in my youth. I also participated in a Christian Science group on campus, in which we supported each other in learning about our relation to God, shared how God was guiding us, and found inspiration in our friendships. And I began a thorough read of the Christian Science textbook, Mary Baker Eddy’s “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” which along with the Bible was helping me and my newfound friends put God first in our lives.

Given the nature of my experience that weekend, I couldn’t help thinking about the effects of alcohol on one’s ability to think and control oneself. During this time of great seeking, I was discovering that God loves me and everyone, and that we are all created in His spiritual image and likeness. This understanding helped me feel and express an authentic sense of peace and strength – not the temporary, counterfeit facsimile that I felt was all that alcohol could offer.

Progress, I was learning, comes through freedom from such sensuality, not its indulgence. For instance, it’s important to be able to think clearly if we’re grappling with painful issues. We need to be able to hear the lasting answers that God’s love and direction can supply, and I realized drugs and alcohol only keep us from hearing the voice of our Father-Mother God. I wanted to learn to be free and demonstrate real dominion over my shyness and the anxiety that had lingered from the encounter with the other student.

As I prayed, I began to see the wonderful benefits of striving to be more focused on God. As I understood God better, I found answers to the many issues that were plaguing me at college, including that feeling of being so shaken. Over the years of continuing to prioritize the understanding and expression of God in my life, I have also found myself foreseeing danger before I am potentially victimized. In a book called “The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” Mrs. Eddy quotes a passage from the Bible: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). She goes on to explain, “Wisdom is won through faith, prayer, experience; and God is the giver” (p. 205).

My experience with the drunken student was emotionally painful, so I am deeply grateful to have been able to put that behind me through the new view of myself I’ve gained from turning to God. I am so grateful for the divine source of all joy, inspiration, wisdom, and progress, which is freely available to all.

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“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

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