I was supposed to be there for her. But here I was, on a trip out of the country, with my struggling friend disappearing into the distance. During my flight, I started to feel increasingly anxious, because my friend had been going through a rough situation at home and had been feeling more and more down about it. Before I’d left, she’d even told me she would kill herself if things got any worse, and the fear this left me with was unbearable. Since I would be in another country, I wouldn’t have service on my phone to talk to her. And as the flight went on, I couldn’t help but think of all the terrible things that might happen while we were out of touch.
While this situation was definitely extreme, it wasn’t the first time I’d felt burdened by someone else’s problems. I’ve always wanted to help other people, and it’s natural for me to recognize when someone looks upset or sad and to respond. The problem is, I’ve often ended up taking on my friends’ problems as my own—this can feel really heavy, and sometimes makes me feel helpless.
I couldn’t help but think of all the terrible things that might happen while my friend and I were out of touch.
After a couple of days worrying about my friend, I decided to confide in another friend who was on the trip with me, and she told me that I wasn’t responsible for this other person’s well-being. It had already occurred to me that I could release this feeling of burden and trust my friend at home to God. But even after this conversation, I felt like I was just too afraid to let go.
I knew from attending the Christian Science Sunday School that God is everyone’s divine Father-Mother. This means God takes care of us even better than the best parent ever, and there’s no place so dark or hopeless that God’s love can’t reach it with healing. But how could I feel confident about this in a way that would both heal my fear and help my friend?
Thankfully, I’d brought one of my old writing journals with me on the trip, and as I flipped through it, I found a passage that I’d copied from an article in The Christian Science Journal. The author wrote, “I knew that God was the true director of the program. Divine Mind had been guiding each activity all along, and my absence couldn’t be a hindrance to that divine nurturing and guidance” (“ ‘One horse got scared and pulled back ...,’ ” by Lauren Stillman, December 2006). This was exactly what I needed: an example of someone surrendering her own concerns about a situation and trusting God to relieve the burden for her. I also knew from the article that trusting God in this way isn’t blind faith, but comes from an understanding of all that God is—His power, ever-presence, and saving love.
Every time I thought about my friend, I would prayerfully reaffirm that God was taking care of her. I prayed to know she was safe.
During the rest of the trip, every time I thought about my friend, I would prayerfully reaffirm that God was taking care of her. I prayed to know she was safe. And I prayed for myself: that I couldn’t be afraid, since I knew God was comforting her.
When I arrived back home and was able to talk to my friend again, she told me some great news. There had been a drastic change in her home situation, and she was doing so much better.
I was so grateful! And this was also a major turning point for me. I realized that while it’s always good to be supportive and loving, I’m not the source of that love; God is, and none of us can ever be separated from God, divine Love. Ultimately, it’s God who is guiding everyone’s life, and one of the best things I can do for any of my friends is to fearlessly trust them to His care.