For as long as I can remember, I’d had a fear of heights. When I was little, I’d want to climb a tree or scramble up the rocks on our family’s property, but this fear of being up high would hold me back.
Finally, I decided that I’d had enough, so I went on a Girl Scout trip that was focused on climbing and rappelling. I thought that forcing myself to face my fear head-on would help me overcome it faster, but it didn’t; it just made things harder.
On the trip, I had to climb big rock walls and go beyond my comfort zone into my danger zone. On one ascent, I happened to look down at the ground from where I was, and my heart started pounding. I tried to talk to my troop leader about it, but all she said was that I would just have to deal with it. She didn’t offer any help. This made me want to give up, and for a while after this experience I did.
I thought that forcing myself to face my fear head-on would help me overcome it faster, but it didn’t.
The next summer, I decided to go to a camp for Christian Scientists and join a wilderness program to try again to work through this fear. On the second day, my group and I were climbing a tall fireplace inside a lodge. It was almost my turn, and the fear was hitting me—overwhelming me. I decided to climb the fireplace anyway and try to push through. But when I got about ten feet off the ground, I started to flip out.
This time, though, I got support from my counselor, who shared some spiritual ideas to help me. From attending the Christian Science Sunday School, I knew that these ideas were powerful and could help me have a complete healing of the fear.
One of the ideas the counselor shared was that I was climbing “the heights of Mind” (Violet Hay, Christian Science Hymnal, No. 136, © CSBD). Mind is another name for God, and this reassured me that I could never be out of God’s care, or be anywhere where God wasn’t keeping me completely safe. She also told me that I was climbing to express God. To me this meant that my climbing was an expression of qualities of God like strength, safety, and joy—not fear.
I kept praying with these ideas, and later that week we went to Arkansas to climb real rock walls and cliffs. We began by climbing a smaller wall to prepare ourselves for the bigger ones. I felt doubtful that I could climb it, and I almost let the fear overwhelm me. But then I remembered what my counselor had said—that I was there to express God. That changed my focus, and I was able to climb to the top of the cliff and see the beautiful view.
In that moment at the top, I felt completely free from the fear, and I knew that I was going to continue to be free—that I had the power from God to not let the fear ever get to me again.
I had the power from God to not let the fear ever get to me again.
As I came back down, I was thinking about what my spiritual breakthrough had been, and I realized that I had stopped accepting the fear as my own. Instead of seeing it as part of my thoughts or identity, I recognized that it was a negative thought coming at me, and that because it wasn’t from God, it was powerless. Only God, good, has power, so only good thoughts have any power. And those are the only thoughts I was going to listen to. When I was back on the ground, I told my counselor my realization and said I wanted to do more climbing.
I was healed that day, and the fear has not come back. From this experience, I learned how to face other fears in other experiences and overcome them, too.