When you’re at your breaking point
The girl on my computer screen was screaming. In the fictional online series I was previewing, she was one of eight teenagers who’d been stranded on a deserted island—and she was at her breaking point.
In her screams, I recognized echoes of the real-life cries for help I’ve been hearing over the last eleven months. So many teens I know feel like they’re at their breaking point. And right now, “rescue” doesn’t even seem to be on the horizon—at least, not if we’re waiting for the pandemic to end or for life to head toward normal.
But is that what we’re waiting for? Is a countdown to “normal” the only thing keeping us sane?
I got an interesting response when I was asking myself these questions at a time that felt like my own almost-shattering point. It was this: The answer to being at your breaking point is understanding that there is no breaking point.
If a person had spoken those words to me, I might have felt like my “I’ve had it, I can’t go on” moment was not being taken seriously. And as with all mental-health-related issues and moments, we do need to deal with these deep, challenging feelings and not brush them aside. But that message I got as I prayed for help came with such a feeling of security and peace that I felt heard and healed all at once. And I knew something important was happening beyond my own personal rescue: God was showing me a way we can all be praying for anyone, including ourselves, who feels like they’re barely hanging on.
We need to deal with these deep, challenging feelings and not brush them aside.
The concept of a breaking point stems from a brain-based paradigm, in which we each have a mind of our own—a mind that’s vulnerable to trauma and short-circuiting. In this scenario, we have very little control over the thoughts and feelings that rush in or our responses to them. We break because, well, that’s what overstressed things do.
If that really were the nature of our universe, then we’d all be relying on something like superhuman strength to hold ourselves together. But my study of Christian Science has taught me that this concept of the world we live in as fragile and painful isn’t actually an accurate one. And that as we see our universe differently, we can experience our lives—and even our problems—differently.
What is this different view? It’s of reality as spiritual—as totally good, as God-governed and -sustained. It’s based on an understanding that there aren’t many minds, but one Mind—the divine Mind, or God. Because this Mind is also “the sustaining infinite” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. vii ), it’s incapable of overloading, shutting down, short-circuiting, or breaking. Its qualities include stability, permanence, peace, hope, wholeness, and fortitude.
Here’s the way the Bible describes it: “I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, New King James Version).
The thoughts Mind gives us aren’t the overwhelming, fearful kind. They are good thoughts, peaceful thoughts, intelligent thoughts, because Mind is good and intelligence.
So the thoughts Mind gives us aren’t the overwhelming, fearful kind. They are good thoughts, peaceful thoughts, intelligent thoughts, because Mind is good and intelligence. And while it might sound like Mind is sending us those thoughts from somewhere “over there,” in fact, this Mind actually is our Mind here and now. Since there’s only one, it has to be ours, too. Mind and its idea—us—are one.
That may sound abstract, but there’s power in the prayer that acknowledges divine Mind as our only Mind and God’s thoughts as our only thoughts. I’ve found that as we pray this way, we’re strengthened to resist and reject the crushing, crashing dark feelings as fundamentally illegitimate—as coming from nowhere and belonging to no one. We’re supported in rebelling against, and stopping, the headlong tumble toward the abyss of burnout, anxiety, and depression.
And we’re also able to know, in the most solid and sure way, that there is no breaking point. Not because everything has become perfectly rosy again. But because our rescue lies in a change of perspective—in discovering that we aren’t desperately holding on to our last threads of sanity, but that Mind, perpetually stable and secure, is loving us into the recognition of how safe we already are.