Can I actually be healed of anxiety?

Originally appeared online in the teen series Q&A -  April 9, 2024.

Q: I have such bad anxiety. My whole life I’ve prayed about all my problems, but I don’t know how to pray about this.

A: I can totally relate. There was a time in my life when I was struggling with almost constant anxiety after my mom suddenly passed away. I grew up attending Christian Science Sunday School and had learned early on that I could turn to prayer to address any problem. In fact, prayer has always helped me get quiet and find greater peace and joy. But this anxiety was overwhelming, and I had trouble finding peace even through prayer. 

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So I called someone whose whole job is to pray for people—a Christian Science practitioner—and she got right to the heart of the matter. She told me that it was too late for anxiety to show up! What she meant was that my identity couldn’t change from something good into something bad. I was already made strong, good, and resilient in God’s image and likeness, just as the first chapter of Genesis in the Bible explains. Essentially, she was telling me that good was the foundation of my identity and the forever truth about me. She reminded me that, grounded in this spiritual foundation, I was safe. And this would never change, no matter what circumstances I faced. It was like she was pulling the reasons for those anxious feelings right up by the roots. 

The anxiety was overwhelming, and I had trouble finding peace even through prayer.

What she said sounded really good, and I thought how great it would be if it were true. But when anxiety and the chest pains that often accompanied it welled up in me, those thoughts and sensations felt very real and scary. 

It was hard to identify with the idea that I was strong and secure and that the anxiety wasn’t really a part of my nature. I guess I had to think a little more deeply about what it meant to be spiritual—the image and likeness of God, Spirit—and to have that feel like a permanent and steady foundation. I began considering the God-given, spiritual qualities that I naturally express, such as strength, resilience, goodness, and joy. I started to realize that these qualities couldn’t come and go; they were hardwired in me. They were part of my inheritance as God’s child, and nothing could change that. 

As I began spending more time thinking about spiritual qualities from God that I express, I really started noticing them in myself. Those true ideas were becoming so much clearer. And soon, with practice, when anxiety would begin to wash over me, I was able to set it aside. This strengthened my trust in this great new understanding about my life that I was gaining from my prayers. 

One day, a verse from the Bible came to mind that was exactly what I needed to hear: “The king’s daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold” (Psalms 45:13). I started to repeat that to myself every morning as I looked in the mirror. I’d say, “There she is! The king’s daughter—all glorious within!” 

I would throw my shoulders back and know that I had everything I needed because it all comes from God—so it could never go away. This was a great way to start the day. It helped me stand my ground when anxious thoughts would try to overwhelm me. As this understanding of my true nature became clearer, the anxiety was soon in the rearview mirror and then just completely faded away. The great thing is that I’m now able to see that I never really was an anxious person; that was never part of who I am. 

I get that it can be hard to turn away from feelings that come so frequently or something that seems so much a part of your daily life. It’s OK to say that you need a little help praying about it and ask a practitioner to pray with you. Practitioners are so good at understanding the truth about us, even when we don’t yet see it ourselves. 

One thing you can know for sure is that this anxiety isn’t part of you. It’s not how you were created and, ultimately, not part of your story, or identity, at all. You are beautiful, strong, good, pure, resilient, and glorious—within and without!

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