As she looked out the window, my friend saw a path leading deep into the dark woods. It called out to her. It seemed to say, “Take this path; then you’ll see your friend again.” She had recently lost someone very dear to her, and this path into the woods was tempting because it seemed to offer a solution. If she died, too, she could be with her friend again.
“I saw that I could make a choice,” my friend told me. “I chose not to go down that path. I realized I wanted to live.” She made a point of not even looking out the window at the path, because she wanted to be steadfast in her commitment to choosing life. About two weeks later, however, my friend happened to look out that window again, and she was surprised by what she saw. So many plants had sprung up that the path had almost completely disappeared. My friend went forward with her life, embracing new opportunities for friendship and spiritual growth.
This was a real experience, but our ability to choose whether we follow a path into darkness is also a helpful metaphor for dealing with mental health issues. Whatever the label for the issue—depression, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, or something else—you may have dealt with it yourself, or know someone who has. If we ourselves are beckoned to go down one of these paths, it might even feel as though we are powerless to resist.
I know I felt that way once. My family has a history of bipolar disorder, and in my early twenties, I found myself going down that same path into mental illness. All I could think, over and over again, was, “I’m losing my mind.” I felt powerless to stop it.
Our ability to choose whether we follow a path into darkness is a helpful metaphor for dealing with mental health issues.
However, I’d also just found out about Christian Science, and I’d learned from reading the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, that God is Mind. I’d also learned that since there is only one God, there can be only one Mind, the Mind we all reflect as God’s spiritual creation. This was a sanity saver, because it meant that I didn’t have a little mind of my own that could go crazy. Gradually, instead of feeling consumed by thoughts that I felt I had no power over, I came to realize that I did have a choice—and the ability to make that choice. Every time I was tempted to think, “I’m losing my mind,” instead I prayed, “God is my Mind. God can’t lose His Mind, so neither can I.”
I found freedom in consciously acknowledging that Mind, God, was my Mind. It had to be, since there is only one Mind. As this spiritual fact became more real to me, the fear and the bipolar symptoms faded, and I found release from those tortured thoughts. I was healed. Never again have I been troubled with the fear that I was going crazy.
Sometimes it might seem like we live in a chaotic, scary world, or even inside a chaotic, scary mind. But this couldn’t be true, since Mind is All, and is gentle, ordered, consistent. In fact, Mrs. Eddy explains in Science and Health that Mind’s spiritual universe is comprised of infinite intelligence and infinite ideas: “All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all” (p. 468). This is where we all truly live. When we recognize this God-created, God-sustained reality, the signs of confusion and powerlessness fade, much like when a fog lifts and we see the landscape that was always there—just hidden from view. Then we see stability, health, and peace as the true and only reality.
Making the choice to recognize and embrace Mind’s presence and allness will erase and replace the scary, challenging thoughts that would try to control us. This is refusing to take the path of darkness.
Making the choice to take the path out of darkness might not seem easy, but it is doable. God is always there to support us. When we open our hearts and ask for God’s help, the divine presence, which is already with us, becomes tangible. We find we have what we need. It might be courage, or strength, or faith, but whatever it is, it will be there.
Each of us is equipped by God to make the right choice, and this will keep us safe. In the Bible it says, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19, New International Version). Making the choice to recognize and embrace Mind’s presence and allness will erase and replace the scary, challenging thoughts that would try to control us. This is refusing to take the path of darkness. And as we refuse that path, it will inevitably close—and we’ll find freedom.