"I'VE really blown it, my friend said. "I just can't believe I was so stupid. I've destroyed a friendship, probably for good.As I tried to comfort my friend and point out possibilities for reconciliation, I thought of times in my life when I've "really blown it. Probably all of us have made terrible mistakes in our lives, things we deeply regret and wish with all our hearts we could change. What can we do to find the forgiveness we seek, the reconciliation we long for? And what can we do when we've apparently injured someone for life, either physically or emotionally? How can we live with this guilt? Do we simply have to live with this guilt, forever? There is a way out of such guilt and despair, but we're not talking about some sort of instant, self- bestowed absolution. Our hurting heart tells us that it can't forgive itself, and that's the problem. We need something greater than either our own heart's self-condemnation or its forgiveness. And that "something greater is God and His message of redemption. God's forgiveness is greater than the wrong we may have done, and He will show us the way to atone for wrongdoing and correct it. The fact is, until we get God in the picture and find the grace and forgiveness He bestows through Christ, the atonement we seek with others and within ourselves will never really be accomplished or complete. Why? Because these kinds of grievous mistakes can only be overcome by deep and profound spiritual healing of both heart and mind. And for this we need God and His life-changing truth. Sorrow for wrongdoing and a desire to atone for what we've done are the first steps. Without these, we can't even begin to be healed. But when we are truly sorry and have done all we humanly can to make amends, there is only one thing left to do: we must be reborn spiritually, so that we become, as Paul put it in his second letter to the Corinthians, "a new creature. In other words, even though we may not be able to go back and undo what we've done, we can redeem the present and heal our hearts by becoming a new person, someone who is redeeming the past by the good he or she is doing. Through Christ, we can progress to the point where we can honestly leave self-condemnation behind because we feel the spiritual regeneration that has come from our repentance and reformation. In his unique way, Christ Jesus showed each of us how to have this kind of spiritual rebirth. He said we must be "born again to receive the kingdom of God, the peace and harmony that God bestows. This rebirth involves discovering our tender relationship to God and accepting the identity we find anew in Christ through repentance and spiritual reformation. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, wrote a wonderful article that speaks to the heart of anyone seeking atonement. It's called the "The New Birth and can be found in her book Miscellaneous Writings. In it she writes: "With the spiritual birth, man's primitive, sinless, spiritual existence dawns on human thought,--through the travail of mortal mind, hope deferred, the perishing pleasure and accumulating pains of sense,--by which one loses himself as matter, and gains a truer sense of Spirit and spiritual man. The key to reformation is seeing the great fact that Christ reveals: that man is not a sinful mortal but, in truth, the very child of God. Spirit, God, is our real Father-Mother, and He has created man in His likeness-- holy, good, and pure. This wonderful gospel gives all of us, no matter what we've done wrong in the past, a fresh starting point. The material life we seem to have lived so far is not actually our real life, but more like a terrible dream from which Christ, the spiritual idea of Life, is awakening us. When we are truly repentant about the mistakes we have made, and wish to atone, the gospel of Christ gives us the truth that will set us free. It helps us see that, as the Apostle Paul says in Romans, we are "dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ--alive to the new life we find in Spirit and in spiritual living. The man of God's creating--our genuine identity--has never been a sinner, has never made an irredeemable mistake. He's always been God's perfect and good child, and unde rstanding this eternal fact becomes the basis for being better men and women today. Learning how to find forgiveness isn't easy, especially when our mistakes have been grave. But the honest heart can always find the healing it seeks in God and His redemptive message: you are My beloved child and always will be. This wonderful truth is the bedrock on which we can build a new life and prove to ourselves and others that we are indeed the new man or woman that Christ brings to light.
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BIBLE VERSE Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19