Press the reset button
At our family’s Thanksgiving holiday gatherings, we select a topic as the focus of our gratitude. One year the topic was “family.” One person said he was most grateful for family because it allows us to “press the reset button”—to forgive and forget one another’s mistakes, shortcomings, and offenses. Once again, we feel our wholeness and innocence and our belonging in the family.
His words continue to resonate with me, and have prompted me to think more deeply about what it means to “reset” in terms of the practice of Christian Science.
In this high-tech world, most of us probably have an electronic device that has a “refresh” button or “restore to factory settings” option. Clicking on the restore option prompts a reminder that everything previously downloaded onto our device will be erased, and the device will return to its original settings, or condition. Like many, I can think of more than one occasion when I’ve wished I could press a refresh or restore button on life. But I’ve learned in Christian Science that it is possible to hit “refresh” in a spiritual sense and experience the health and harmony that spiritual regeneration brings.
As I thought about this family member’s comment, it occurred to me that we “refresh” each time we see more clearly this universal truth in Christian Science: that we have one true identity, which is spiritual, in line with the account of creation in Genesis 1 in the Bible. This spiritual account of creation says we were made in the likeness of God, divine Spirit, and this is our original being—our “factory setting,” you might say, which we need to reset our thought to accept.
Reading and studying the writings of the Discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, we find that this record of creation is our spiritual history and includes health, harmony, and nothing other than good. It is the only real history we have, since it is given to us from God, our creator and sustainer. Worldly thought, however, is constantly trying to download onto humankind the opposite, material account of creation and convince us it’s the real one, with endless reports and images of sin, sickness, death, and general discord. With each thought like this that we see or hear, we can mentally hit “refresh.”
In a short autobiographical essay, Mrs. Eddy wrote, “The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 22). One dictionary synonym for revise is “correct.”
Christ Jesus’ time on earth was devoted to healing the sick and regenerating the sinner by setting the record straight about man’s true history. Where others saw a sinful or sickly mortal, he saw the pure and perfect child of God. For instance, when Jesus and his disciples encountered a man who had been blind his entire life (see John 9:1–7), instead of a history of sin or disability, Jesus saw in the man the likeness of Spirit, with a spiritual history of uninterrupted purity and health. Mrs. Eddy explained in the Christian Science textbook that “this correct view of man healed the sick” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 477). Christ, the true idea of God, always expunges the false, material history with which we may mistakenly identify, and so revises the human history.
As our thought yields to the correct, Christly, view of man that Jesus held in consciousness, we are essentially hitting the “refresh” button in our human experience, including in human relationships. I learned this some time ago.
A family member very dear to me moved away amid a family controversy and a series of misunderstandings, leaving a wake of blame and regret. Lack of communication, geographical distance, and mutual neglect caused the relationship to become strained, looming large and heavy in thought.
One day I received a call from this person asking for my immediate help. Her situation was urgent. I quickly saw that what was needed was a complete revision of human history, meaning a fresh look at what we really were (and will always be), and a reset of my heart to what God was telling me was true about both of us.
At that very humbling moment these words came to me to say to her: “I am so sorry for anything I may have ever said or done that hurt or offended you in any way. And I forgive you for anything you may have ever said or done that hurt or offended me in any way.” I then realized there was nothing left in our relationship that needed to be healed. There was no lingering resentment, remembrance of discord, or demand for forgiveness; there were just two hearts filled with genuine love.
One definition of forgive is to not impute—attach or assign—an offense to the offender. In a flash of inspiration I thought, “Of course! God’s child, the reflection of good, can have nothing unlovely attached to her.” Whatever has no history in God has no history in man and cannot attach itself to us.
With that realization, I was free to wholeheartedly help my family member, and I felt divine Love’s mothering comfort and provision for us both. We moved forward in a true celebration of family—reset and refreshed. My heart continues to sing praises to God for this restoration of family harmony.
Today, as I reflect on that Thanksgiving gathering, it brings to mind something Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “And how is man, seen through the lens of Spirit, enlarged, and how counterpoised his origin from dust, and how he presses to his original, never severed from Spirit!” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 129). I love the thought that we are always pressing to God, our original, and can never be separated from our Father-Mother.
The understanding that we coexist with God removes any remembrance of hurt, regret, or offenses that we may be carrying around like heavy baggage. Such experiences never had, nor will they ever have, a place or time in our eternal history.
The fact that we can at any time “press the reset button” and feel our God-given wholeness, innocence, and belonging is one more thing to be grateful for at any time of year.