We’ve all made mistakes. And even if we’ve learned from our mistakes and changed our ways, we can feel burdened by our past. It can feel as though there’s nothing to be done about what’s happened, so past circumstances continue to affect our current experience.
We can’t physically go back in time to change a regretted behavior or circumstance like in a science fiction movie. And the thought that one cannot change his or her past is often accepted as common wisdom. But Paul says: “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19).
Does this mean that we can be free from mistakes of the past and rectify unfortunate experiences? Absolutely.
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this magazine, says that looking at our past anew is a present necessity. She writes in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection: “The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged” (p. 22).
The teachings of Christian Science explain that what happened last Monday, or last year, or ten years ago, does not have to have any bearing on the present. What matters, what impacts our health and peace today, is what we accept in our thoughts today. In the Bible, Jesus stated clearly: “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? . . . But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” (Matthew 6:31, 33, 34).
This isn’t about advocating a “YOLO” (“You only live once”) or carpe diem (“Seize the day”) attitude. These fashionable mental postures have at their core a sense of resignation, a life-is-short, can’t-do-anything-about-the-past tone, which is the opposite of what Jesus was saying. Instead, we can look afresh at our past from a spiritual standpoint, so we can experience regeneration today.
We can look afresh at our past from a spiritual standpoint, so we can experience regeneration today.
When we’re dealing with a future that seems so uncertain, we can take a spiritual approach: Neither yesterday nor tomorrow matters; today, now, is the only measurement of good. This doesn’t mean ignoring past mistakes and pains, but rather seeing that our past does not have to negatively affect our present. We can heal our past and find lasting peace now.
Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the textbook of Christian Science, explains that our experience, our ups and downs, or joy and suffering, are intertwined with our present state of consciousness.
The book explains—and countless transformed lives have solidly proven—that when one spends less time being preoccupied with darkness and more on allowing the light of God to permeate our consciousness, when one is led in prayer to replace the errors of the past with present spiritual truths, then one experiences a betterment of the human condition, and ultimately witnesses healing and permanent peace. Science and Health reads: “Hold thought steadfastly to the enduring, the good, and the true, and you will bring these into your experience proportionably to their occupancy of your thoughts” (p. 261).
Let’s imagine that someone tells you they endured a severe difficulty twenty years ago, and they still feel limited by what happened. For a good start in praying about something like this, I find it helpful to stick with the point that the challenge is not actually one of the past. Yes, the challenge, the event mentioned, may have a past date, but this is not the important point. What matters is what I accept in my thought today as I pray about the case. My present vision of the past is more important than the past itself.
What matters is what we know as true today. So when dealing with any past darkness, we can recognize that it is impossible, now or then, to be separated from God, infinite good and abundance. We can recognize that we never stopped, are not stopping, and will never stop expressing all of God’s wholeness, purity, and strength. Our very identity is molded after the Divine, and our being is unalterable, forever complete and good. Harmony is the law of our being, and there exists no mechanism to abolish or slow down this law. We are perfect as our Father, God, is perfect, as Jesus said (see Matthew 5:48).
Sometimes, we may find ourselves presented with a rush of vivid memories arguing that evil was very real then. However, we can reject those suggestions by realizing that God, infinite good, is the only power and presence, always and even then. Each memory of evil is a counterfeit of specific harmony.
Holiness was right there where evil seemed to be present. Divine Love was governing where hate seemed to be paramount. Divine Principle was overflowing where dishonesty and deceit seemed to rule the day. Abundance was right where lack was boasting and parading. Reversing the negative claims of the past with spiritual truths is expunging our material record. This is not about naively ignoring evil, but it has everything to do with destroying evil by realizing that it is a bald-faced lie about permanent good and harmony.
Jesus plainly explained that evil is a falsity, a lie (see John 8:44). It boasts that it has power to limit us, but actually it is powerless and causeless. When we mentally recognize that evil is neither power nor presence, and that God, good, is the only presence, always and under all circumstances, we begin to experience peace and healing.
Healing is never a human achievement; it is always the result of spiritual truth, spiritual light, blossoming in our thought, reversing lies and bringing our wholeness into view. So as this New Year dawns on us, it’s incumbent upon us all to do more than hope for a brighter future.
Paul wrote: “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:2). Let’s celebrate each moment as the ever-present divine now. We can live each day as the only day, with the sole purpose of expressing the light of God.
Not delineated by time or agenda, our every moment spent with a commitment to this spiritual dawning will satisfy us more than any resolution ever could.
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