Does it seem to you that feelings relating to past events are holding you back?
That feeling of being hurt by someone else or by our own mistakes, if indulged, can stall us in our tracks and prevent us from living a life that recognizes God’s love. We may even acknowledge that we should be forgiving, but feel justified for the hurt feelings, and so we stay right there in our thought, unmoving and often refusing to budge.
How does Christian Science help us forgive? By separating the error from the person—seeing wrongdoing or wrong thinking as no part of their true identity—we allow no resentment to fester in our thoughts. This frees us to move forward in praying to love each person’s spiritual individuality and innate connection to God as God’s expression, or image. In this way, we are not excusing bad behavior or hurtful actions, but are standing up for what’s true about God’s man. Letting thoughts of love and mercy for the individuals and ourselves fill our whole being, we break free from that sense of being stuck in one place with bitterness as a constant companion.
Even though it can seem to be a very challenging thing to forgive, we can be confident that we are fully capable. This is because God is giving us the ability to do so. A verse in II Corinthians says, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (9:8). God is giving forth the love required for us to truly love our neighbor as ourselves.
If we just stay on one train of thought, holding on and ruminating about the past while attempting to move forward, it is similar to what Mary Baker Eddy describes in her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures on page 22: “Vibrating like a pendulum between sin and the hope of forgiveness,—selfishness and sensuality causing constant retrogression,—our moral progress will be slow. Waking to Christ’s demand, mortals experience suffering. This causes them, even as drowning men, to make vigorous efforts to save themselves; and through Christ’s precious love these efforts are crowned with success.” It is much more effective to consistently move forward with persistence, acknowledging that we are able to love and forgive, because it’s really God’s grace that is enabling us to do that.
One of the tenets of Christian Science that can be found in Science and Health is also useful as we pray to forgive and move on. It states: “We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts” (p. 497). By letting the grace of God abound in us we see our ability to remove from our thinking anything that is preventing spiritual growth.
I have seen this take place in my own experience, even when hanging on to resentment or bitterness toward individuals who had wronged me felt justified. What I found was that by letting God’s love wash over me—fill my thought—I had such a beautiful feeling of compassion and love for each individual. As a result, my times with these individuals are now so precious, and I cherish being with them. I now see even more clearly that loving is natural to us as children of our Father-Mother God, divine Love. Resentment, or even hatred, is unnatural to us and that’s why it hinders us from progressing in life. So let’s be confident that we can live love, let go of past hurts, and move forward!