Overcoming academic challenges

Originally appeared online in the teen series Trending -  October 24, 2023

AARON CRANFORD — STAFF
As a high school student—secondary school student in the United Kingdom—academics were really challenging. Exams were particularly difficult, since reading and writing didn’t come naturally to me. I regularly needed extra time to complete exams because it was hard for me to remember answers and write cohesive essays. To address this, my school suggested that my academics should be evaluated by a learning specialist, who diagnosed me with dyspraxia.

I was brought up attending Christian Science Sunday School and had learned that prayer had helped so many people overcome all kinds of challenges. So why not me, too? I knew that my parents were praying about my struggles in school, and I also decided to pray about them. 

One thing I’d learned in Sunday School is that I am God’s reflection. I’d also learned that Mind is a name for God, and that means intelligence is divine, not human. So, since I reflect all that God is, my intelligence doesn’t come from a brain but from God and is infinite, immediate, and unobstructed. With this spiritual fact in mind, it made sense that ideas must come naturally and at the right speed to God’s creation—me.

I also prayed with something that a Sunday School teacher shared with me. I would say, “Because God is [fill in the blank], I am . . . .” For example, “Because God is Mind, I am able to think quickly and learn whatever I need to know.” 

As I grew older, my academics improved, and I received several “improvement” and “academic progress” awards from my school. But I still had a hard time with remembering facts and figures and being able to write coherently. I also still needed extra time during exams into my last two years of high school in the UK. 

When I began attending an undergraduate college in the United States, I was encouraged not to see limitations in my ability to learn or excel academically. I also stuck with my prayers about God being the source of my intelligence. I understood that I wasn’t getting ideas from a human brain and that as God’s beloved son, I could not, even for a moment, be the expression of anything less than infinite Mind.

Throughout my college years, I improved academically and began scoring better in both short- and long-form exams. After receiving my undergraduate degree, I went on to take a master's course in journalism. This course required me to take exams, and as a result of my spiritual growth, I didn’t feel dread when taking tests anymore. 

I felt the healing was truly complete when the professor of one of my master's courses posted the exam scores on a chart to show how the class had done. On two of the exams, my grades were so good that he explained they were anomalies in the data. After a very challenging academic career, it was such a demonstration of what I’d been praying about—and it gave me such gratitude for my progress and for God.

I know that it was my turning to God as the one Mind that brought these results. And it showed me that the diagnosis I’d received was nothing but a suggestion about me that, through Christian Science, I’d proved to be wrong.

I love knowing that I can always apply the spiritual fact that as God’s reflection, I must express Him. So if I’m ever tempted to say, “I’m not able to learn this,” I can remind myself of what is true. God is infinite Mind, and He gives us every idea we could ever need.

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