Neutralizing the pressure to cause harm

“I just felt like something was pressuring me to do it,” John LaDue told his mother after his arrest in 2014. Fortunately, the 11th grader’s plot to carry out the worst school massacre in United States history was stopped before he could implement it. He agreed to receive treatment for a fixation on violence, completed a two-year jail term, and has lived a quiet and productive life since.

As this case and recent events illustrate, there’s a prevalent claim that not only can men and women feel a mental “pressure” to harm themselves and others, but so can kids and teens. What can help us all free ourselves from the influence of such malicious mental arm-twisting?

Christian Scientists, including Sunday School teachers and Christian Science practitioners, have observed the profound benefits that a spiritual focus can bring to young people. Research is catching up, showing that spirituality does supply a protective and healthy advantage to children and teens. Daily prayer and spiritual studies empower children to resist harmful influences and help free them when they are feeling pressured to make wrong choices.

Such moments of considering spiritual ideas or divine truths are more than a passive intake of secondhand ideas. They could be thought of as a shepherding of the child’s thoughts into greener pastures, where they feel safe and loved.

That echoes what we see in an examination of the ancient relationship between a shepherd and his flock. The shepherd’s daily attention, appreciation, and affection kept them mentally and physically safe. Yet, at times, a sheep or goat would become confused, as though under an influence, and the shepherd would take action to break the hypnotic state or wrong attraction, allowing the sheep or goat to reawaken to its true nature as an obedient and loving member of the flock.

Why does spirituality help children and teens resist the pressure to harm themselves or others? Because God is their divine Mind, Love, and Life, and spirituality is not a small or insignificant part of their identity. All of us are spiritual beings, God’s children, made to express nothing less than the wisdom of Mind, the tenderness of Love, and the eternality of Life. 

That’s why moments with the Shepherd, God, bring peace and mental dominion to our remembrance. Bible study allows each child to hear the Shepherd. The following are examples of the messages they will hear: “Do not be afraid, . . . I am your shield” (Genesis 15:1, New Revised Standard Version). “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Exodus 33:14, NRSV).

When mental pressures come as suggestions to think, plot, or act unlovingly, immorally, illegally, or even violently, these pressures can be resisted and neutralized as we and our children cherish our spirituality and accept yet another of the Shepherd’s tender promises, “I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2, NRSV).

But how can we reach children we cannot directly touch or speak with or those who do not have access to spiritual education? Fortunately, Christian Science reveals that they inherently have an open channel of communication with God. They can hear the Shepherd’s messages guarding them, guiding them, and affirming their identity as God’s innocent lambs. As praying people, we can support children the world over by engaging in active and deep prayer to see children for who they really are. Children of God are deeply satisfied because they are aware of their eternal nature as God’s, divine Love’s, expression.

As we remind ourselves about the true nature of each of God’s children, they will also be reminded of who they are. When we see them as they truly are, they will begin to act that way. Even a child accepting destructive tendencies will respond to good when prayerfully reminded that they are good and receptive to good because that’s how they are created by God. Any resistance to goodness does not belong to them. It is so-called evil attempting to work through society’s ignorance of the divine nature of being. But it can’t continue to influence a child when prayer powerfully affirms everyone’s spiritual identity. Prayer helps to neutralize the pressure to commit heinous acts. It eliminates the fraudulent belief that any of God’s children were made to be less than wise and loving.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, explains that “Jesus loved little children because of their freedom from wrong and their receptiveness of right” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 236). Jesus saw children’s spirituality, purity, and goodness as innate. 

The help and healing needed today are possible. Every moment, we can begin to prove that no evil mind exists to apply pressure, plan for destruction, or promote confusion and violence. God is All, the only Life and Mind, and God’s children can be moved only to smile kindly, love effortlessly, and live harmoniously. “I just felt like something was pressuring me to do it” should be heard only after tender acts that touch the heart.

Keith Wommack, Member of the Christian Science Board of Directors

Keeping Watch
God’s love transcends borders
July 25, 2022

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