Facing down test fears
“Do I know enough?” “Am I smart enough?” No matter how many tests you’ve taken, it seems like the same fears would try to creep in, making us doubt ourselves and question our abilities. And sometimes, in the case of a really tough exam, it seems easy to answer “no” to these questions. I know I’ve had times when I haven’t felt good enough or capable enough at all.
But Christian Science has given me a different perspective. In the definition of man in Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy explains that man, meaning our identity as God created us, “is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas” (p. 475). In studying this passage, I’ve found it reassuring to realize that we do know enough, because we are the spiritual idea, the expression, of God, the one Mind, who knows all and includes all understanding. Contrary to the belief that we have to get understanding, we actually include all understanding and intelligence as divine Mind’s reflection—meaning we already and always have whatever we need.
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I saw the power of this spiritual fact firsthand when I faced a chemistry midterm, part of a required course for my college engineering program. I had studied hard, knew the material, and the first twenty questions went well. But then I hit the last one. I had the right formula written on my sheet, but I just couldn’t figure out how to plug in the numbers from the problem. I stared at the problem for a long time, but no answer came.
All the while, though, I was praying to see more clearly that I was an expression of the infinite Mind, so I must already include the intelligence I needed to answer this problem. I had seen proof of this truth on several prior exams, so I had absolute faith that I could express God, Mind, without limits on this test, too.
However, after half an hour, nothing really seemed obvious. So I circled the answer that seemed most reasonable and got up to turn the test in. Still, I kept praying and being open to whatever I needed to know. I didn’t allow myself to become agitated but just listened quietly for what Mind was revealing.
I was praying to see more clearly that I was an expression of the infinite Mind, so I must already include the understanding I needed to answer this problem.
About halfway down the stairs on the way to turn in the test, a number popped into my head. At first I thought, “Yeah, right. I’m just thinking about some of the potential answers.” But this thought was insistent.
From past experiences, I’ve learned to trust these types of intuitions. So I turned around and went back to my desk. When I looked at the exam again, I recognized what the right answer was. I thanked God, circled the answer, walked down the stairs, and turned in the test.
As soon as we were officially released from the exam, I looked up the question, and sure enough, I’d gotten it right. I was in awe. As it turned out, very few people in the class got that question right; the answer simply was not a straightforward or obvious one.
I ended up getting an “A” both on the examination and in the class, which I attribute not just to my own mastery of the material, but also to my study of Christian Science. I’ve learned so much about what it means to accept that our spiritual identity is truly limitless. And I’ve been able to apply this understanding to many other exams for engineering and math.
The spiritual fact, that as God’s reflection we each include the understanding we need, really is the truth for each of us—no matter how challenging the exam, project, or situation. And we can prove it.