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Forgiving ourselves and others

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ONE crisp fall morning I stood looking out at a grove of trees near our home. There was a calmness in the air. In that quiet setting I thought back to the previous spring when I had been teaching as an intern in an overcrowded high school under the supervision of a difficult and rigidly unforgiving faculty member. Our styles never meshed, and I became increasingly frustrated and frequently ill. At the end of the semester I received, unjustly I felt, a low grade for the entire period's work. I was resentful and angry. Who, I thought, looking at my transcript, would ever believe I could teach? How would I ever find a job in my field?

When I returned home from graduate school that summer, I was aware that peace of mind was much needed. I didn't dwell on the experience, but resentment lingered.

That fall morning I thought back to that teacher. I suddenly felt great compassion for this man who worked as best he could under difficult conditions. And just as immediately, all the anger, hurt, and bitterness of those months dissolved. I simply and finally forgave him.

This immediate change was not mystical but the natural result of all I had been taught about my inseparable relationship to a loving God. As a young child I had learned the Lord's Prayer, given to us by Christ Jesus. Part of it says, ``Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.''1 In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy2 gives what she understands to be the spiritual sense of those words. Referring to God as Love, she writes, ``And Love is reflected in love.''3

As we are willing to forgive, we are harmonizing with the purpose of divine Love. We are expressing something of the love that comes from God, which has inherent in it all the power of His ever-presence.

No matter how hard we struggle in our lives, no matter how angry we become, divine Love just doesn't let us go, and we can be blessed, through prayer, by its healing, transforming power. Turning to God in humble, heartfelt prayer, we feel the warmth of His tender presence. Such prayer lifts us above agitation. It brings harmony. It gives us the grace to forgive any who have wronged us. And this prayer provides the love to forgive ourselves, if necessary.

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