Freed from anxiety and insomnia
I was writing my final high school exams when I suddenly started suffering from severe insomnia and constant anxiety.
Feeling sorely in need of knowing how to pray about this, I opened at random my copy of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. I had often read of people opening to a page in their Bible or in Science and Health and finding something there that guided their prayers for healing.
When I looked down at the page I’d opened to, my eyes rested on the following statement: “. . . you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is” (p. 275). I tried valiantly to do this.
For nearly a month, I studied this instruction and other passages in Science and Health and the Bible. I was looking for the sense of peace and normalcy that seemed to have gone missing from my life. In the Christian Science Sunday School that I attended, I had learned that stress and pressure do not come from God, so they do not have power over us. Only thoughts that are good, which come from God, have any effect or influence on us. I knew this was the truth, and I was doing my best to understand and hold to it.
Nevertheless, I was struggling. I couldn’t seem to switch off the anxious thoughts or leave them behind. At this time, I was supported by a wonderful Christian Science practitioner with whom I spoke every day for nearly a month. He would share ideas with me that had come to him from God as he prayed for me, and he’d assure me that I could trust completely in God and did not need to be fearful.
I had been afraid that I would fare badly in my exams because of lack of sleep, but I started to realize I did not need to be afraid, because God is Mind and is the source of my energy and intelligence. I could not be separated for a moment from divine Mind and its qualities. Mind is also the source of peace and rest, and I could not fail to feel refreshed and rested, since I was God’s idea and reflected Mind.
Again and again, when I opened Science and Health, my eyes would fall on that same line: “. . . you must begin by reckoning God as the divine Principle of all that really is.” One day, I realized that the emphasis in that statement should fall on the word begin, because prayer in Christian Science always starts with thoughts of God rather than a problem. If I were to start by looking for a cause for the anxiety, examining its effects, and then trying to pray my way out of it, my prayers wouldn’t be effective. Making a reality of a problem never heals it.
So, when I prayed, I began with God, with knowing that God is good; that the true universe, created by God, is good; and that God is the only Principle, law, or cause in the universe. I thought about what it meant to dwell in this divine universe and what that feels like. It feels safe, secure, joyful. Instead of ruminating over the anxious thoughts and looking for a cause for them, I just refused to entertain them.
At first, this was hard work, and it kept me quite busy at times. But it was also joyful to continually affirm that God is divine Principle, the All-in-all, and that there is nothing outside of Him. Therefore, there was nothing that could threaten or disturb me. The anxiety began to lessen, and I slept a little better.
One evening soon after beginning to pray this way, as I looked up from studying for an exam, the room appeared to be out of focus—but the next moment it snapped back into focus. The feeling of anxiety lifted completely right then and never returned. I also obtained the marks that I had wanted in all of my exams. If anything, I did better than expected.
The next year, at university, I had to write a test near the beginning of the year. I had trouble falling asleep the night before and decided to talk to my mother about it. She suggested that I pray the Lord’s Prayer. I did so and soon fell asleep. Moreover, I had the very strong sense that I would never suffer from insomnia again—and I haven’t.
It is now many years later, and despite working as a professional in a stressful field and being a new mother, I’ve never again had trouble sleeping. In fact, I’ve often been able to fall asleep very quickly when I needed to. I am so grateful for this demonstration of God’s goodness in my life, and for the Bible and Science and Health, which point the way to healing.
Johannesburg, South Africa