“Learning our God-given identity, losing panic attacks” – published on CSMonitor.com

This article appeared in the February 04, 2019 edition of the Monitor Daily.


As it happens, I have almost the exact same name as a well-known politician. For this reason, some most unusual experiences have come my way. For example, I’ve been given political mementos with this individual’s name and received emails intended for her. I’ve even received a phone call from someone endeavoring to sway me to a particular side of a legislative bill. All because my name matches that of a famous someone else!

This has led me to consider a more substantial way in which we can also be misidentified. We become so very used to seeing ourselves purely in terms of personal characteristics, our human ups and downs and even our visible features, that we may not realize there’s another way of identifying ourselves – a spiritual way, and it actually gives us a clearer sense of our identity.

There are many ways the Bible reveals this deeper, spiritual identity, but I’ve been particularly inspired by a passage in the Scriptures that tells how, when Jesus was baptized, there was “a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). God knew precisely who Jesus truly was. Jesus pleased Him.

While Jesus’ identity as the Son of God was unique, there’s a lesson here for all of us. If God is our creator, as the Bible informs us, each of us too must be one of His beloved children, Her unique heir. And since God is Spirit, we are in fact the very expression of spiritual attributes, such as wholeness and beauty. I like to think of everyone’s true nature as analogous to a gorgeous bouquet or a harmonious symphony: We may each include the same flowers or musical notes, but we’re all arranged and composed differently.

This is to say, as the expression of divine Spirit’s nature, each of us is spiritual, incomparable, complete.

I’ve found that understanding how God knows us in this way is most valuable. It brings healing, taking us beyond confining, mistaken views of ourselves and others as flawed mortals.

At one time in my life I began to experience severe panic attacks. I never knew when they were going to happen. I’d begun to identify myself as a nervous mortal who was easily shaken and way too sensitive.

A doctor prescribed Valium, a rather potent tranquilizer, at quite a high dosage. Eventually I became addicted. Sometimes when a pill wore off I felt as bad as or worse than when I took it. It seemed like a vicious circle. This went on for a long time.

Then I learned of Christian Science, the Science of divine Love. It made such wonderful sense to me. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer of Christian Science, writes in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” “Our proportionate admission of the claims of good or of evil determines the harmony of our existence …” (p. 167). I realized this wasn’t about just thinking happy thoughts but about grounding one’s thought in the spiritual fact of God’s goodness and love for all and our true identity as His children.

As I eagerly began studying these ideas, slowly, little by little, I became more and more confident that as God’s spiritual offspring I was being cared for by my heavenly Father-Mother at every moment and in every way.

Then one day I realized I no longer needed the Valium pills and poured them down the drain. What a relief that was! I saw I could rely on God for peace of mind, poise, and health. The ongoing loving, intelligent thoughts God communicates to all His children were my medicine. And the panic attacks completely stopped.

Later I learned that it was generally accepted that a Valium dosage such as I’d had, and with the duration of time I’d depended on it, required gradual withdrawal increments. I’d seen, however, that God’s way was the way of deliverance. My actions left no egregious side effects. My need was so meticulously met that I knew it had to be the result of my Father-Mother’s impeccable shepherding. God had kept me as He’d made me: whole and free. Just as the mistaken sense of identity with those who assume I’m the famous politician is thrown off when I show people who I actually am, the excitable addict view of myself that I had learned to live with was thrown off by the God-defined view and reality of my true identity.

We may have the same last name as multitudes of others or a voice or face that prompts others to say, Wow, you remind me so much of my Uncle Harry, or that Channel 7 weatherman. But our loving Father-Mother could never mistake us or anyone we know for another. He knows each of us as divine Love’s original witness and offspring – a distinctive, one-of-a-kind beam of God’s light – and this understanding satisfies and heals.