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New Year’s Eve plans – and prayers

Last year, during the New Year’s holiday, I was visiting my aunt and uncle in a city that I’d never been to before. It was fun to go out and explore the restaurants, neighborhoods, and museums, and just get a feel for this new place. Yet, friends had warned me that this city was known for the extreme contrast of the posh downtown shopping area and the rough neighborhoods where homelessness and drug dealing were rampant.

In daylight, or if I was with my family, I felt comfortable traveling through the city. But I was reluctant to head out at night alone. That’s why I was anxious about my initial New Year’s Eve plans; a large group of friends had converged in the city, and we were looking forward to meeting up for dinner, dancing, and watching fireworks.

My uncle, a cab driver, said that it would be impossible to get a cab after midnight and I wasn’t looking forward to a long walk home through a city that I didn’t know.

In the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, I reasoned through every possible scenario for that evening. Maybe I could just meet my friends for dinner and come home early? Maybe my uncle was wrong and I could still get a cab at midnight? Maybe my friends would walk me home or would let me spend the night? Maybe I just shouldn’t go at all.

Then I realized I needed to stop agonizing over my plans and start praying. Prayer helps me find direction and purpose in my life. Even though on the surface, deciding what to do for New Year’s seemed like a superficial decision, I saw this mental back and forth as an opportunity to overcome recurring fears that I could be lost in a strange place or that I would be left vulnerable.

So I began praying and listening to God. This passage from the Bible was familiar and comforting, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;.” Clearly, my imagination had been running wild with all of the possibly bad things that could happen to me on my way home from the gathering with my friends. Prayer helped me bring my thoughts back into line with the trust and expectancy that God was caring for, not just me, but everyone in that city.

I found another Bible quote from that week’s Christian Science Bible Lesson, “Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.” I saw that I didn’t have to wait and see if I’d be safe or if something inevitably bad was going to happen. I knew right then that when I was focused on getting better acquainted with God, I felt inspired to share love with my friends and the other people around me. The “worst-case scenarios” faded from my thoughts and were replaced with this desire to bless. I felt peaceful.

Though I still wasn’t sure how I would make it home, I proceeded with the original New Year’s Eve plans to meet my friends. We ended up having a great time at dinner, laughing and catching up with one another. A couple of friends even mentioned that they’d driven into the city that night and would be glad to drop me off back at my aunt and uncle’s place. Wow—how perfect!

To me the real healing or reward wasn’t in getting a ride home, but in overcoming the fearful thoughts that had caused me to be overly suspicious and cautious. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, addresses the way to effectively approach prayer and Christian healing in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, “…timid conservatism is absolutely inadmissible.”

I realized that spiritual understanding does break down fears that lead to “timid conservatism” and enables us to act with joy and confidence. What greater promise could there be than spiritual insight? There is no contest against divine Mind. When we pray to know this Mind, we can act boldly with the assurance that God is good and that He keeps His creation safe, harmonious, and loved.

So whatever your plans are for this New Year, neither chance nor even your own imagination can inhibit you. You can celebrate with spiritual certainty and joy.

Originally published on spirituality.com, December 18, 2008.

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