If you need help with anxiety

Originally appeared online in the teen series UpFront -  May 2, 2023

Anxiety used to hit me like a wave. One moment I was OK, the next I felt like I was drowning. Sometimes the thoughts were specific; sometimes it was just a crushing weight of anxious feelings. All of it was awful.

I’ve heard from so many of you that even if your situation looks different, anxiety is something you’re concerned about for your friends or are dealing with yourself. That’s why I want to share my own healing of anxiety, because we can do more than just manage this problem. Healing is possible because of who we are.

Anxiety would try to tell us one story about who we are: that we’re at the mercy of our thoughts and feelings. That they can barge in, batter us, and we’re helpless to do anything about it. That’s the way I used to feel. But one day, during one of these anxious episodes, a thought broke through that I knew was from God. 

I want to share my own healing of anxiety, because we can do more than just manage this problem.

This wasn’t a total surprise—I’d prayed about anxiety a lot. Prayer had been my go-to because Christian Science had helped me so much with other mental health issues. And it made sense to me that feeling more of the presence and power of infinite, unstoppable good—God—would help me feel more peaceful, less anxious. I felt sure that, just like pure happiness leaves no room for sadness, being conscious of the divine qualities of goodness, peace, and stability would rule out anxious, unsettled, fearful thoughts. One naturally excludes the other.

I’d had moments of relief praying this way. But the anxiety continued until I heard this thought from God. It said, How would you pray about this if you were praying for a friend?

I know that thought doesn’t really seem to relate to my problem. But what I love about ideas from God is that they help us get to the core of whatever we’re dealing with rather than leaving us to chip away at it on a surface level. And this thought woke me up to my approach to praying about anxiety. I’d been tentative, I realized. I was giving anxiety the power rather than God, even though I knew from reading the Bible that God is omnipotent—literally all power.

That feeling of being overwhelmed by nerves and fear broke apart and dissolved. The deepest peace I’d ever felt settled over me.

I recognized all of this as I thought about this question of how I’d pray for a friend who was struggling with anxiety. And as I did, I felt a strength well up in me that I’d never felt before. I knew I’d be absolutely convinced that anxiety could not control my friend and was no part of their thoughts or life. I knew I’d see anxiety as an enemy to be destroyed rather than a bully to be pushed around by. I knew I’d stop listening to any negative, fearful thoughts about my friend and completely devote myself to listening to the thoughts divine Love was giving me.

So? Came the follow-up thought from God. Why not do that for yourself?

I knew what God was nudging me to do didn’t involve willing anxiety away. I’d felt such authority in thinking about praying for a friend dealing with the same problem because I understood so clearly who that hypothetical friend was—God’s expression. When you express yourself, that expression reflects who you are—be it funny, creative, intelligent, serious, or all of these. Similarly, God’s expression must be like God. And since God isn’t anxious, we can’t be either. God’s qualities include peace, strength, balance, harmony, constancy. Those are the kinds of qualities that make up who we are.

This was my basis for praying for myself, too—knowing who I really am. Being God’s expression, the expression of good, meant I could say no to anything that wasn’t good. And I could say no with authority. I felt so much strength as I thought of how Mary Baker Eddy characterized this rebellion against every ungodlike thought: “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love” (Pulpit and Press, p. 3).


This might sound like something out of a Marvel movie, but the moment I rose up against the anxiety on the basis of my God-given identity, it was like a great “Boom! happened in my thoughts. That feeling of being overwhelmed by nerves and fear broke apart and dissolved. The deepest peace I’d ever felt settled over me. I knew I was free—and I was. That was the end of those anxious episodes.

The spiritual identity I recognized that day is yours, too. Sourced in God, it’s not vulnerable to mental health issues or destined to endlessly struggle against bullying thoughts. It includes peace and freedom—and the strength to claim those qualities as your own.

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August 21, 2023

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