Panicking at exam time?

It was finals season. My grad school professor had given us five questions we could use to prepare, explaining that we would be asked to write on two of them during the exam. But there was a problem: None of the questions appeared to relate to the material I’d read or the discussions we’d had in class. It seemed like the questions belonged to another class entirely! I felt stymied and helpless.

But one thing I did have was what I’d been learning in Christian Science, so that’s where I turned. One of my big take-aways from Sunday School had been the synonyms for God that Mary Baker Eddy identifies in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. 

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One of these names for God is Mind, and during my undergraduate years I had made a habit of recognizing that God is Mind—the only Mind, omnipresent Mind—and that I reflect Mind. This meant that I couldn’t be cut off from the ideas that Mind includes; Mind was always giving me the ideas I needed. 

When I read the questions, none of them appeared to relate to the material I’d read or the discussions we’d had in class.

I’d also always loved the fact that the synonyms for God are interchangeable. Another of those synonyms is Love, and when I read the statement “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need” (Science and Health, p. 494), substituting the word Mind was comforting, assuring me that divine Mind would meet my need right then and always.

My panic subsided a bit as I thought more deeply about all that Mind includes. And I remembered the many conversations we’d had in Sunday School about the qualities of Mind, such as discernment, perception, judgment, and insight, and how recognizing that these qualities were mine by reflection had helped me during past exams. 

I stopped stressing out about what I didn’t know and paused for a moment to ground myself on a different foundation. I acknowledged that it wasn’t up to me to create brilliant answers on my own, and that I could be led by my divine source to connect the classwork and reading assignments to the questions. 

The answer lay in recognizing the source of intelligence as divine Mind and in seeing myself as the expression of that intelligence.

After reading the questions again, I found one where I could see a link to the reading and class discussions, and I began to write an answer. Over the next few days, I worked through the rest of the questions, keeping in mind the real source of my intelligence and ability. Each one gradually became clearer to me, and I was able to write complete answers for all of them. I felt such a comforting sense of God’s presence as Love during this process—and of love replacing the original feeling of panic. It was also interesting to me that my search for help didn’t send me back to review the academic material, although I had done that many times in the past. The answer lay in recognizing the source of intelligence as divine Mind and in seeing myself as the expression of that intelligence. 

I was so happy to end up with five answers and thrilled when the professor chose for the final exam the two questions for which I had written the most complete responses. You can imagine how I felt when I got my graded exam back and found that the professor had not only complimented my writing but also asked to serve on my thesis committee.

I was so grateful, of course. But what I appreciated most was the feeling of God helping me when I felt stuck and the way God’s love was demonstrated in the provision of the exact ideas I needed exactly when I needed them. It’s an experience that still comes to thought when I hit a roadblock, and it has comforted me many times since.

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