Don't be bullied
Fear can be such a bully. It can shut us down and paralyze actions without warning at the most random times… if we let it. For example, I was sitting at my breakfast table with a cup of coffee and my favorite vanilla cream-filled donut on a beautiful sunny morning one day when my phone rang. I picked it up and was immediately accosted with some devastating news from a friend. I didn’t see it coming.
I listened to her story with a heavy heart and finally offered a response that I knew to be spiritually true and comforting, but wasn’t totally convinced of myself at the time, “It’s gonna be okay, friend. Right where all this chaos and turmoil appear to be, God is there.” I reassured her that she was loved. I offered to pray for my friend and hung up the phone. Oh my, where to start? I was scared about what was to become of my friend and I was worried that the damage was already done. I sat there for a moment and reached out mentally with my whole heart to God.
I remembered an audio podcast I heard about a month ago in the Christian Science Sentinel Watch titled, Don’t Entertain Uninvited Guests—Fear & Doubt. In it Elise Moore shares some helpful insights about overcoming fear. She builds on a directive about how to handle fear from Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of a Christian Movement over 150 years ago, which is based on spiritual healing through prayer called Christian Science (still going strong today):
“Always begin your treatment by allaying the fear of patients… If you succeed in wholly removing the fear, your patient is healed” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 411).
It sounded like a good idea to me, but at that moment it also begged the question… how? How do I get rid of the fear? And how does removing fear result in healing? hmmmm. Then, I thought about a recorded season finale of a TV show my husband and I watched recently. Weirdly, it had a zombie theme (not really my thing, but there we were at the last episode). In one memorable scene the two main characters were talking about a sad and scary topic, the end of the world-by way of zombie take-over. When the young girl tells her father-figure mentor that she’s really scared—especially about not knowing what’s gonna happen next, her mentor replies, “when I’m scared I like to think about the facts.”
Oh how I loved that answer!! Yes. Of course. Focus on the facts… on what we know to be true, not on dark unknowns or what ifs. He then proceeded to list things that he knew about the girl to be true: you’re the kindest person I know, you are strong and smart, you like doing the right thing. The girl calmed immediately. She became hopeful and then confident. She went on to… well… save the world.
I thought deeply about their conversation and decided to apply this strategy to my own prayer for my friend. So, what were the facts about her situation? Where would I find them? Well, normally when I need info about a specific something, I go straight to the source, like the owner or maker of it, right?!. So, as I was in need of facts about a life situation, I decided to go directly to the source of life, God, the all-in-all of life. The creator and maintainer of all that life is and everyone it includes.
I asked God what He knew about my friend and her situation, which appeared to be an unforgiving blast from an unredeemable past. Yet, immediately this statement from The Bible came to thought, “I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is" (Ezek 27). It was reassuring to consider how the power of God, Spirit could right her wrong. But Spirit, God doesn’t work in matter or material ways. Just like we don’t get apples from an orange tree. So what is He overturning? Thought, of course, our view or perception of the situation. I considered the facts:
That God’s creation is done, it’s complete and it’s very good (Gen 1). That He created man in his image and likeness so my friend’s one-ness with Him is intact, undamageable. That just as a reflection can never be separated from its original, my friend could not be, and never had been, separated from her divine source. That God lovingly governs every thing and every one he made. Then I stood my ground on these fear-busting facts.
My thought calmed. My fear allayed, I felt peaceful and sure. I knew I could trust our loving Parent to show my friend His all-encompassing control over, and care for, all of His creation.
Over the next couple of days, conversations were had among the people involved in the unhappy situation and my friend was led to a resolution of circumstances that came right to her through very unsuspected sources. The final outcome was so much better than anything she had imagined, and every step she needed to complete came to her gracefully in a timely manner. The messy details of her devastating story simply disappeared; they were never spoken of again.
Sticking to the spiritual facts of being denies fear and worry the power to bully us. God’s allness overturns the darkness of fear with the light and right of the Christly Truth. Healing happens; it’s inevitable. He gives us His word, “I know that thoughts that I think toward you…thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end” (Jer 29).