Q: I’m really overwhelmed with schoolwork, extracurriculars, and everything I have to do for high school. When I told my Sunday School teacher about it all, she said I could “lean on God” to help me. But how do I do that?
A: A couple of years ago I was asked to fill in last minute for a role in a professional theater company. I had a week to learn the part. Because there were only eight of us in the cast, I would be onstage performing for a large portion of the show.
It seemed impossible to learn all of the choreography, lines, and music before opening night. But instead of allowing myself to feel afraid and overwhelmed, I turned to what I knew about God. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures Mary Baker Eddy writes, “To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, to-day is big with blessings” (p. vii).
Since God has infinite expression, then as His reflection, I must have the capacity to do all I needed to do.
To me this meant that I didn’t need to be limited by what I thought I could or couldn’t do. Instead, I could turn to God as the only Mind, possessing infinite capacity, infinite expression—which is reflected in His creation. It made sense that since God has infinite expression, then as His reflection, completely at one with Him, I must have the capacity to do all I needed to do.
I knew that getting to opening night gracefully would require a deep trust in God. The moments when I felt most anxious were during rehearsals when the stage lights would black out for a scene change. I’d be left on stage feeling lost and nervous “Where do I go now? What’s the next scene?”
But I found that allowing those thoughts to linger only made me more confused and distracted. So I started to imagine God as lighting the stage—in other words, guiding my feet and illuminating my thought. In the Bible, God’s guidance is described as a light. In Psalms it says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (119:105). Turning my thought in this direction immediately made me feel more at ease.
I also thought about God clearly leading me, just like in the passage in Isaiah that says, “Your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it’ ” (30:21, New International Version). So even if I thought I didn’t know what I was going to be doing ten seconds later, I would earnestly open my thought to God and then intuitively feel guided to do whatever came next. As I relied on God more often in those moments of darkness and confusion, I began to find more clarity and assurance on stage. I started to feel God with me, right there.
The best way I can describe opening night would be like when you’re swimming in the ocean and you float on your back. You lean back, release all tension, and let the water hold you up. I stood in the wings before going onstage that night, closed my eyes, and let go of my fear of failure and all the “what if’s” that tempted me to turn away from God’s all-encompassing power. Then, I mentally “leaned back” on God and trusted Him to take care of me and the show.
I started to feel God with me, right there.
I experienced an incredible feeling of grace and ease the whole evening. My thoughts were clear and free to be directed by God moment by moment, with room to improvise, too. I caught a glimpse that night of what it means to be God’s expression, as it almost didn’t even feel like I was performing the role. It was so completely liberating, and I was overjoyed by what I had learned about God as the only Mind in action. After opening night, I went on to play the role for five more months, six nights a week.
When you feel as if you’re in over your head, it’s helpful to remember that God is there—holding you up, guiding you, speaking directly to you. I’ve come to see that leaning on God really means trusting God to be God, understanding that we are truly at one with Him, and knowing that He is our Mind, our source—not just when we feel overwhelmed, but always.