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Looking back, looking forward

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

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In the New Hampshire presidential debate among Democratic candidates, each was asked what remark made during an earlier debate he or she would like to take back. Two acknowledged making comments they regretted. The other two skirted the question.

I'm sure the candidates who good-naturedly admitted their errors won appeal points. After all, coming across as someone voters can relate to is a winning strategy. And who can't relate to making mistakes?

I've certainly racked up plenty of time – and prayer – trying to undo my mistakes. I can usually learn a useful lesson from them, but I'm not so good at putting them behind me.

One idea that has helped me pray about moving beyond mistakes is from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," which Mary Baker Eddy wrote before founding this newspaper. It says, "The eternal Truth destroys what mortals seem to have learned from error, and man's real existence as a child of God comes to light" (pp. 288-289).

Wallowing in my own wrongdoing certainly qualifies as something I "seem to have learned from error." So when I get in that ruminating mode, I remind myself that Truth has destroyed whatever it is I'm stewing about. Any spiritual growth that came out of the experience is mine to keep, but the guilt and self-condemnation are errors that Truth destroys.

As I understand it, divine Truth destroys these errors by never knowing them. It's a little like the approach that currency experts use to detect counterfeit money. Instead of studying the fakes, they get to know the real thing through and through. That way, when confronted with a counterfeit, they're not tricked into thinking it's real.

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