When peace replaced stress
With vacation just a week away, relaxing, getting more sleep, and seeing my family were almost within my grasp. I couldn’t wait to go home from boarding school and not have to worry about tests and homework. But I also knew that the upcoming week would be challenging because of all the assignments I needed to hand in, as well as all the tests and quizzes that stood between me and the upcoming break.
I was so stressed about everything.
As the week began, the stress started building. Monday and Tuesday I felt like I was just trying to get through as much work as I could, as quickly as I could, and I was finding it very difficult. On Wednesday it really hit me that I was feeling trapped. I was so stressed about everything that I felt like I didn’t even want to put forth the effort on my schoolwork anymore.
I was in English class when everything started to crumble. We were working on a big piece of a project that was due before we left for the break. I knew beforehand that this part of the project—an essay—was going to be due before we left, but I’d avoided dealing with it because I also knew it would be challenging. I was struggling to make what I was writing sound perfect, and I allowed myself to get frustrated. I was almost at the point of tears when it dawned on me that I needed to change the way I was thinking about things.
I have been a Christian Scientist all my life, so I grew up going to the Christian Science Sunday School and singing a lot of hymns. My all-time favorite hymn is “Satisfied” by Mary Baker Eddy—otherwise known as Hymn 161 in the Christian Science Hymnal. I looked up the words, and the first two verses really stuck out:
It matters not what be thy lot,
So Love doth guide;
For storm or shine, pure peace is thine,
And of these stones, or tyrants’ thrones,
God able is
To raise up seed—in thought and deed—
To faithful His.
To me this meant that it didn’t matter if I seemed to be having a good day or a bad day, or if everything appeared to be going well or felt really stressful, because peace, the pure peace that comes from God, is always present. The second verse of the hymn made me realize that no matter what curveball or challenge is thrown at me, I can rise above it, and even conquer it, because God is always right with me giving me everything I need.
All the anxiety was gone.
As my thoughts got calmer, I also remembered an idea that a Sunday School teacher had shared with me when I was very young: “There is no spot where God is not.” I felt so grateful to realize that I am always held in God’s loving care, so I am always in the presence of His comfort and peace. That meant I didn’t have to feel stressed about anything, because I could lean on God for everything I needed.
Later that night I took another stab at my essay. And this time, instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt calm, focused, and peaceful. All the anxiety was gone, and I sat in my room and wrote for about three hours without interruption.
The second half of that week was totally different from the first half, and I finished all my schoolwork, as well as the tests and quizzes, stress-free. When I came back from break and received my essay grade, I was very grateful to see that I had done well.
Now, going forward in school, I feel much more dominion over stress. I know that God’s peace and harmony are permanently established, and that we are always in the presence of those qualities—no matter what the circumstances.