I was panicking. It was almost the end of my freshman year of college, and I had no idea how I was going to pay for the next year’s tuition. Because of a bad business deal, my parents had lost their savings, and it seemed like all the existing financial resources had been tapped. Walking across campus that day, I felt as though I couldn’t see any solution or future for me.
I was in a dark mental place and felt I had no one to turn to for support or encouragement. The temptation to give in to self-destructive thoughts – to “escape” – was strong. Up until then, I’d had dreams of making a good future for myself. But now it seemed like all my plans had reached a dead end. What was the point of living?
Growing up, I’d developed a habit of praying about my problems. So, through the fog of self-pity, my thoughts naturally started reaching out to God for comfort and guidance. And there, right in that moment of hopelessness, all the things I’d learned during my years as a student in the Christian Science Sunday School kicked in. The ideas that saved me went along these lines:
“Valerie, death is not a friend. It can’t provide a solution, because God is the source of all answers and is present now and always will be. God is good and made you with all the qualities and spiritual resources you need, no matter what the external circumstances seem to be. Your creator has not forsaken you.
“These negative thoughts are not your thoughts. The ideas God gives you are good. Destructive thoughts are not good. They are lies about your true nature as God’s loved and valued child, trying to undermine your sense of your worth and purpose, and you don’t need to listen to them. The Bible says, ‘ “For I know what I have planned for you,” says the Lord. “I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope” ’ (Jeremiah 29:11, New English Translation).”
I’d had enough experiences by then to know that if I trusted God, God would open my eyes to a solution. But if I gave in to the negative thoughts, I would be distracted and miss that blessing.
“Valerie, heaven is not a place you have to die to get into so that things will get better. Jesus said the kingdom of heaven, all of God’s limitless goodness, is within you – within consciousness. So what you need isn’t a change in circumstances but a change in the way you’re thinking about them – moving from a limited perspective of things to seeing them more the way God does.”
This wasn’t positive thinking, but was about getting a clearer understanding of my relation to God, who is always caring for me.
With those powerful ideas, the mental storm subsided. The dark thoughts began to disappear as I felt a deepening trust that there would be an answer, even though I didn’t know what it would be. I no longer felt forsaken or at risk; God had rescued me.
This peace stayed with me, and it turned out that even without my family’s help, I was able to find new funds to pay tuition for my remaining three years of college. Later, when I went to graduate school, a research assistantship paid for all my expenses.
There may be times in our lives when things look very bleak. But right in the middle of the turmoil, divine help is at hand to lift us up from the pit. God is ever present to rescue and deliver us – and to bring us out of the dark, destructive thoughts into the light of hope, promise, and peace.