It was exam time. I had already written five papers and had two more to go. On Friday night I started one of the two remaining assignments. I was feeling a lot of pressure because I needed to finish this paper by Saturday afternoon in order to complete my last one on Monday. Also, I’d never written this particular type of paper before, and I didn’t know where to start.
On the private Facebook group for our class, I posted that I was freaking out about this assignment. My classmates offered their own laments. Reading their complaints woke me up. I realized I needed to pray—not just for myself, but for everyone. As a Christian Scientist, I’d had many experiences in which feeling more of the presence and power of God had brought a shift in my perspective about something—relieving me of stress, or helping me or someone I was praying for in some other tangible way.
That week, there was a passage in the Christian Science Bible Lesson, found in the Christian Science Quarterly, that said, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God” (II Corinthians 3:5). I looked up the passage in another Bible translation, and it used the term competence instead of sufficiency, which clued me in to the fact that I could look at the passage in terms of mental capacity or sufficiency: “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God” (New International Version).
I felt comforted by the fact that my mental competence—my capacity to think clearly and to hear new ideas from God—actually comes from God and is therefore sufficient. God was going to be with me, and God, divine Mind, was leading me forward with right and good ideas. I also prayed for my class as a whole, knowing that each of us could be free from worry and stress because we reflect divine Mind and have the ability to overcome any limitation. That night I was able to complete half of my paper—much more than I had expected—because instead of struggling, I was conscious of the ideas flowing naturally from divine Mind.
I felt comforted by the fact that my capacity to think clearly and to hear new ideas from God actually comes from God and is sufficient.
The next day I had another opportunity to overcome doubt and fear. That morning, I was awakened earlier than I’d planned to get up because of circumstances outside of my control. When I showed up at the library, I felt fatigued and was scared that because I hadn’t gotten enough sleep, I wouldn’t be able to think clearly enough to finish this paper.
I paused and prayed. Again the same passage came to me. I remembered the peace I’d felt and the harmony I’d experienced the previous night. This assured me that God is good and was still meeting all my needs.
I decided to get to work on just one part of the assignment. I finished that and felt inspired to move on to the next. This happened over and over until the assignment was complete. I was surprised to realize that it seemed as though no time had passed, even though it had been four hours. It felt like it had been only a few moments since I’d wondered if I would make it through the day because I was so tired. And now my paper was done, and I felt refreshed and clearheaded.
I was amazed and impressed by this turnaround and felt so free from the limits of time, pressure, and fatigue. I also understood in a new way that our sufficiency really is of God. God is always supplying all the ideas, clarity, and mental competence we need to think clearly and to know whatever we need to know—regardless of how many hours of sleep we’ve had.
This experience has also been a good reminder to include others in my prayers. Hearing my fellow students voice their own concerns about the pressure they were feeling awakened me to the need to deal with the situation prayerfully, instead of accepting it as inevitable or normal. And affirming my freedom from limitations became a prayer that naturally included everyone, since this God-given freedom is universal. What I learned about my capacity to rise above time and stress wasn’t just true for me, but true for all of us.
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