Why is it that sometimes we find ourselves remembering and holding onto bad experiences from the past, finding it hard to let go and move on? I’ve often heard people telling of bad experiences they’d had that happened long ago, experiences in which the emotional pain, resentment, and anger regarding something they thought was unfair were very hard to get over. This has made me wonder why it is that we sometimes feel helpless to move forward and get past certain situations.
For some time I had been praying about some unfair and unkind situations in my life. I called a Christian Science practitioner to pray for me. Our prayers revealed to me that I needed to get a handle on all-consuming resentment—ugly thoughts that were eating me up. Without even being aware of it, I had allowed myself to become consumed with angry and upsetting thoughts. I realized I had to discard those thoughts and really forgive individuals I felt had treated me unfairly.
I learned through my prayers that, while it can seem difficult to let go of resentment, there really is a way to truly forgive and move on. I found that we do this by turning and listening to God in humble prayer and by recognizing the spiritual truth that God knows us as His children, His image and likeness. He made us all good and only good. We are in reality the reflection of what God knows about Himself; we are the complete, perfect, joyous, harmonious, and loving spiritual reflection of Him. To the degree that we identify with this truth, we are freed from dwelling on the past because we are identifying instead with the truth of our eternal nature; in other words, we are letting God govern our thinking.
For some time I had been praying about some unfair and unkind situations in my life.
One day I was reading the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, and this Bible passage stood out to me: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13, 14). Mary Baker Eddy cites this passage in the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “When we learn that error is not real, we shall be ready for progress, ‘forgetting those things which are behind’ ” (p. 353).
As our thought yields to our true spiritual nature and the true spiritual nature of others, we are “reaching forth” to what was always true about each individual before, during, and after whatever situation or comment may have offended us. Then we find it easier to let go of and forget the past and to drop a material view of others as less than perfect and Godlike. We also find it easier to love more because we truly accept and perceive God’s man, woman, or child as good and pure—and governed by God.
Overcoming conflicts and controversies in this way, by reflecting divine Love, or God, relieves us of carrying around the burden of heavy grudges against others. Praying to be delivered from condemning, judgmental thoughts is a step toward reflecting the love of Love. When we reflect this love, and recognize others and ourselves as God’s loving child, we see that another’s offensive or unjust behavior was never part of that person or of our experience. This does not mean that we ignore what was upsetting, but rather that we replace those upsetting thoughts with the understanding of God’s infinite love and with our expression of Love through forgiveness.
One of my favorite Bible characters, Daniel, expressed unconditional love. The Bible tells us that the king preferred Daniel above all other officials in his kingdom, and that those officials conspired to have Daniel thrown into a den of lions for praying to God (see Daniel, chap. 6). Yet Daniel showed no resentment at any point against those who had conspired against him. In fact, because he expressed divine Principle, God, and continued to pray, communing with God, he must have felt the arms of divine Love wrap around him and the lions. As Science and Health says, “Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den …” (p. 514). He didn’t give in to fear or anger at the injustice but kept his thinking open only to God and spiritual truth.
Daniel’s example proved inspiring to me as I prayed to be freed from resentment. I realized I didn’t have to give in to fear and anger, but could instead yield my thinking to God and spiritual truth. My prayers included protesting against resentful and angry thoughts and actions; I knew they were not part of my true nature as God’s loving expression, and they couldn’t be attached to me. I couldn’t be inflamed by them or fearful of them. I affirmed that in God’s harmonious reality there are no past, present, or future bad experiences, and that I actually am, always have been, and forever will be the perfect, whole, complete child of God’s creating. I had to realize the spiritual truth that evil has no power over me or anyone because it was not created by God, the only real power. My true identity as God’s child had not been touched, so I had nothing to resent or be angry about.
Daniel’s example proved inspiring to me as I prayed to be freed from resentment.
These declarations led me to recognize that if I wanted to accept that my fellow men and women are truly good as God’s children, then I could not accept the belief that evil was a real part of anyone’s thoughts or actions. Mrs. Eddy states in her book Retrospection and Introspection: “God is good, hence goodness is something, for it represents God, the Life of man. Its opposite, nothing, named evil, is nothing but a conspiracy against man’s Life and goodness” (p. 63). Feeling the deep truth that two opposites, good and evil, cannot both be true, I knew that evil had to be what is untrue and false. God’s children are good and cannot conspire against one another; divine Love’s allness can dissolve discord and divisiveness in human consciousness. Love is the only power and presence, and Love always triumphs. And so, since I knew that we all are the expression of divine Love, it followed that I had never fallen out of God’s omnipotent care, and neither had anyone else.
These prayers led to great progress and healing. I discovered that by yielding to God and the true view of each one of us as God’s creation, I could let go of resentful and angry thoughts. A burden was lifted. I now recognize that judging others is not my job as a child of God and brings no sense of joy or goodness either to me or to those I may have been judging or resenting. Through prayer and daily effort I’m getting better and better at recognizing any sense of judgment in my thinking and changing to a more spiritual outlook.
We have the sweet assurance that, through the study and practice of Christian Science, we can overcome thoughts and feelings of resentment and anger related to bad experiences. We can cast out of our consciousness whatever would claim that we are separated from God’s infinite love. And when resentment and anger are removed from our consciousness, they cease to have an effect on us. Following God’s loving guidance and beholding others in their true spiritual light allows us to go forward with joy, seeing the good in others and ourselves and finding true forgiveness and freedom.
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