From stress to calmness

My next-door neighbor, a busy mother with two young children, told me about a time when she was ready to leave on an errand but wanted to find her sunglasses first. She searched the house for almost half an hour before realizing that they had been on top of her head the whole time!

Many things in our day-to-day lives can cause us to feel harried like this. It is often simply a sense of having too much to get done that can bring on feelings of being stressed out. Fortunately, there is a spiritual way to deal with pressure when it threatens to overwhelm us.

These words of Christ Jesus have given me a palpable sense of calm: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30 ).

I have thought that if our Master could say his burdens were light, given the weight of responsibility that rested on his shoulders, then as his follower I don’t have to allow daily demands to get the best of me. Christ Jesus understood the truth of his oneness with God. He knew that divine Mind’s offspring can act only as that one Mind’s reflection. With that essential identification, he was able to prove his inseparable unity with his heavenly Father, to manifest composure under every adverse condition. You and I can do likewise. We can turn to God, the only genuine source of action, and expect good results.

Christian Science enables us to view ourselves in a whole new light—from the appearance of man as a harried individual to the truth of man as God’s spiritual image and likeness, the reflection of His infinite serenity. Acknowledging our relation to God as His offspring, we begin to glimpse something of the true, spiritual man. This is the actual selfhood of me and you and everyone, and this selfhood is not a stressed-out mortal, but God’s perfect likeness. God is never overwhelmed or anxious, and neither is His likeness, man. Accepting this truth and discerning it in prayer, we’re increasingly freed from mental turmoil, and more of the God-maintained peace of mind that has always belonged to us comes to light.

I realized it wasn’t a timeout that was required, but a lifting of thought above the human scene.

According to the truths brought out by Christian Science, all real consciousness is the consciousness of divine Mind, God. By accepting divine Mind as our real mind, we can reject the belief in a mind separate from God and demonstrate Mind’s exercise of its own faculties through reflection. Our acceptance of our oneness with divine Mind displaces the belief that we can undergo stress and strain. In man’s real, spiritual selfhood, the harmony and control of divine Principle, God, are forever individualized. Man cannot lose them because his office or function is to embody them.

Each of us is, in truth, God’s beloved idea, held now and always in His loving, unerring, exclusive control. Serene in this knowledge of our oneness with divine Mind as its idea, we can realize the peace taught and expressed by Christ Jesus. It is found in the real man, in you and me, as God’s reflection. A calm life is made possible by the understanding that God is ever present and that He is functioning uninterruptedly as the source of His idea, man. The consciousness of this unity of being—Mind and man—is an impenetrable defense against the upheaval of human events.

We have a God-given right to experience dominion over human circumstances, no matter how chaotic they appear at times. Mary Baker Eddy writes: “Know, then, that you possess sovereign power to think and act rightly, and that nothing can dispossess you of this heritage and trespass on Love. If you maintain this position, who or what can cause you to sin or suffer?” (Pulpit and Press, p. 3 ).

When a day’s demands seem to be spinning out of control, I know that there is no need to suffer mental upheaval. There is something I can do at once, and this is to claim my divine right to express God’s control of the situation. And doing so makes it possible to meet each need completely and harmoniously.

Here’s one experience I had that bears this out. I was having a day in which if anything could go wrong, it did. The day was already filled with things I needed to get done by bedtime when two workmen showed up, each one a day earlier than expected, and at the same time! And when they arrived, I was on the phone with someone who needed to talk to me about a problem. And I needed to leave home right away for an appointment across town. I felt the pressure gaining ground.

I realized it wasn’t a timeout that was required, but a lifting of thought above the human scene. At once, these comforting words from the Bible came through: “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10 ).

I have learned in my study of Christian Science to know God as the one governing power in my life. This causes adjustments to take place, sometimes in the most unlooked-for ways. When we understand, and are obedient to, the fact that God is always in control, human circumstances can’t keep us running in place, all churned up mentally.

When duties seem too much to cope with, we can affirm in prayer our unity with Mind and insist on our God-given authority over stress. 

That verse from Psalms quoted earlier continues, “I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” And I indeed found that acknowledging God’s presence and all-power turned the day around. Things went much smoother than it had appeared they would. I concluded the phone conversation, gave the two men instructions, and found traffic unexpectedly light, which enabled me to make my appointment in time. All the other tasks that were planned were also accomplished. It was as though I hadn’t been involved; in divine reality, it truly was God who had expressed through me His control and harmonious omni-action.

Further, when the thought “How can one person get all this done?” tried to overwhelm me, I thought of Jesus’ words, “The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10 ). This enabled me to realize that it is always God who is the only “doer.” Seeing myself as the reflection of His action enabled me to accomplish an amazing amount of duties, without leaving me feeling worn down.

When duties seem too much to cope with, we can affirm in prayer our unity with Mind and insist on our God-given authority over stress. This strong stand for the spiritual reality of our being invariably brings relief. Appealing to the law of God, inexhaustible Life, overrules belief in the inevitability of fatigue, unfinished projects, and loss of joy in what we’re doing. In fact, turning to God for help not only lifts stress, but it also gives us the energy needed to accomplish each task, and maintains our joy and enthusiasm throughout the process!

How comforting to know, when the demands of daily life threaten to rob us of our calmness, that we have a better way. As the prophet Isaiah says, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee” (26:3 )—stayed on God, not on the distracting mortal condition facing us. As God is acknowledged as supreme, as the only power controlling all, this restores our sense of dominion and freedom, and our activities go forward smoothly. You and I can count on it.

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October 7, 2019

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