To say I had been feeling stressed would be putting it mildly. Everywhere I turned there was pressure to make decisions, get things done in impossible time windows--and there was no end in sight.
My job was high pressure: I had to make split-second financial decisions in the hundreds of thousands, up to a couple million dollars. That was stressful. Then there was the daily cash issue. I had to decide by 10 a.m. what my cash needs would be. Any mistakes from me would rain flak on our officers. Not good. Generally things went well, but there were certain times each month where the intensity skyrocketed.
Basically at work I simply had to be right, --and be quick about it.
Why couldn’t I get on top of these demands and stay there? Not the most helpful question, it just added self-condemnation to my troubles. But I took the bait, felt worthless, and proceeded to consider doing something totally foreign to me.
At my company’s required annual physical exam, I conferred with the doctor about the stress and growing anxiety I was feeling. She reluctantly prescribed sleeping pills and I had the prescription filled on my way home. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a pill, not even an aspirin, but I had reached a point of desperation.
Driving home from the doctor’s office, I was really wanting some peace. But oddly enough, having the promise of an escape quite literally in my hands didn’t feel right. I found myself thinking, “But that’s not the way you do things. Besides, you don’t need a dodge—you need a solution.”
I became suddenly calm. When I got home I just put the pills in the cabinet. I was less sure they held the answer and I needed time to reconsider before I took any.
I sat down and read one of the free magazines I’d recently picked up at a local business. It was a copy of the Christian Science Sentinel which I’d heard of but had never read before. The articles weren’t only interesting but also uplifting. The Sentinel also reconnected me with some childhood experiences that were more valuable than I had realized - my attendance (albeit quite irregular) at Christian Science Sunday School.
For the next several days I left the pills alone and kept up with reading Sentinels. I also found and started reading my childhood copy of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the textbook of Christian Science. I felt spiritually fed as I continued to read.
One night soon after, when especially anxious and feeling so vulnerable, the words of a hymn that I remembered from Sunday School came back to minister to me. “O gentle presence, peace and joy and power…” (“Mother’s Evening Prayer” by Mary Baker Eddy, Hymn 206, Christian Science Hymnal). These words were praying in my thought. I could hear them. I realized that this “gentle presence” was God. And in that moment I realized I did know God, that I had always known Him. I felt so safe.
This was a turning point. I experienced no more fear or the intense stress of the anxiety attacks. I no longer felt I was battling alone. I threw away the sleeping pills without ever taking a single one.
I have since learned that the voice of comfort speaking to me in the night was the healing Christ, reassuring me that God was here and could help. It was the same Christ that had reasoned with me in the car when I first decided to wait before taking the pills.
Escaping or sleeping my troubles away wasn’t the answer. Waking up to the presence of God, and listening to the Christ that reminds us that God is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” is the ultimate problem-solver that never lets us down. (See Psalms 46:1)
Georgia Bulloch, CSB is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher based in Houston, Texas. She welcomes your comments below and can also be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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