When I graduated from college, I felt like everything I had known was completely uprooted. The daily structure of school was over. I moved to a new city and started a new job, and many meaningful relationships in my life changed. I desperately wished that none of it had to happen. Even though I told myself it was the natural, inevitable progression of “growing up,” it seemed impossible to feel as happy as I had just months earlier in college.
As a Christian Scientist, I knew that I could pray about anything challenging in my life, and that included feelings of unhappiness or discomfort. But while I had been reminding myself that I could trust God to be there through all these changes, that reminder didn’t have the spiritual punch I needed.
During this time, I often went running on the beach. I loved the opportunity to appreciate my beautiful coastal surroundings, clear my thoughts, and think about God. But one day while running, instead of feeling inspired, I was hopelessly missing the past. I pitied myself for having to go through such a big change, and wished intensely that everything could’ve just stayed the same.
It seemed impossible to feel as happy as I had just months earlier in college.
When I reached the end of the beach, I turned to start running back and saw the prints of my sneakers in the soft sand. That’s cool, I thought. What if, as I run back, I put each step in my previous footprint? It seemed like a fun little game.
To my surprise, I found that doing this was incredibly hard. Running while trying to place each step exactly where it had been on my initial run—well, I could barely do it! I ran awkwardly, my movement uneven and my freedom limited. My running was no longer liberating and joyful but halting and difficult.
That’s when I realized: This was exactly what was happening in my life. Instead of embracing a new path, I was trying to “run” each day in the “footsteps” of the past.
Having grown up in the Christian Science Sunday School, and being a regular reader of the weekly Bible Lesson from the Christian Science Quarterly, I was familiar with many passages from the Bible and from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. At this moment, a passage from the Gospel of Matthew popped into my thoughts. It’s the one where Jesus says, “Neither do men put new wine into old bottles: else the bottles break, and the wine runneth out, and the bottles perish: but they put new wine into new bottles, and both are preserved” (9:17).
No wonder everything felt challenging and uncomfortable! I was desperately trying to “put new wine into old bottles.” Instead, I had to be willing to make new footprints—create a fresh path and welcome unfamiliar experiences. I could see how—instead of limiting my happiness—embracing this fresh, more expansive view of my life would actually bring me more joy.
Making this connection between Jesus’ point and my own experience allowed me to let go of the constant longing for the past, because it reminded me of God’s eternal plan of good for each of us. I knew that God was unfolding new chapters in my life that would be full of prosperity, harmony, and happiness. That’s what He had done so far, hadn’t He? And I knew that since God is Principle—steadfast, reliable, unchanging—He wouldn’t suddenly stop now. There was nothing, including graduation, that could ever cut me off from His goodness, since that divine goodness is as constant as God is. The only thing that was keeping me from reaping all the benefits of God’s eternal blessings and infinite love was my own unwillingness to accept all that God was showing me.
There was nothing, including graduation, that could ever cut me off from God’s goodness, since that divine goodness is as constant as God is.
I quickly stopped my little game on the beach, laughing as I cherished this perfect spiritual insight. It was time to welcome the newness instead of resisting it. As I began to do this, I found greater purpose and satisfaction in my new job. I was able to feel connected to old friends even at a distance, and I also began making new friends. The sadness I had been feeling completely melted away. And as always, the greatest blessing during this time was the spiritual growth that followed this higher understanding of God’s uninterrupted love for me. I no longer yearned for the past; more importantly, I knew that the good of yesterday, today, and tomorrow was all preserved.
Since this healing, I’ve experienced even more change—another move, a new job, and more shifting in relationships. Yet, with each step forward, I’ve remembered how important it is to face newness unafraid and with joyful expectation—and that we can do this because of what we know about the continuity of God’s goodness.