A clean slate
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
AS My husband and I were strolling through a public garden in a small New England town, we saw a Revolutionary War memorial with these words: "We will never forget."
Although these words were inscribed over 200 years ago, they are repeated today by many people throughout the world - crime victims, soldiers, survivors of terrorist attacks and of war, victims of child abuse, the innocent who have been imprisoned, those who have been tortured. Sadly, the list goes on.
The inscription made me pause and remember events that I swore I would never forget: my parents' incompetence as parents, which left jagged emotional scars; my ex-husband's act of thoughtlessness that resulted in my being robbed at knifepoint; a trusted business associate and mentor who reneged on an agreement, costing me tens of thousands of dollars.
Some psychologists and philosophers believe that we come into this world a tabula rasa (a clean slate) that experience and circumstance write upon, making us who we are. Sometimes experience makes us into something we'd rather not be - domineering, defeated, cruel, needy, or just plain unhappy.
Sometimes we're spurred to retaliation. A decade ago, I believed that the harsh events of my life had made me who I was. Of course, our reactions also help mold us, and as a Christian I knew that one reaction should be forgiveness. But all I could manage was avoidance.
I avoided the colleague who reneged on the deal. My husband and I divorced. I had almost no contact with my parents. But eventually I realized that neither avoidance nor a successful career had made me happy. Nightmares continued to make it hard to sleep. Emotional scars made it hard to imagine ever having a happy marriage. But I wanted to be happy! I wanted to feel loving and loved.
So I started to study the Bible to learn to be the person I wanted to be. I also studied "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy, the 19th-century religious leader who discovered Christian Science and founded this newspaper. During several years, I learned a lot.
I learned that if I wanted to feel love, I had to turn to God who is Love.
Turning to God required turning away from my preoccupation with painful memories. Jesus' earliest teachings include the demand, "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 4:17). The Greek word translated "repent" is metanoeo, which means to change one's ways - one's attitude, thoughts, and behavior - in order to comply with God's demands for right living.