MISTAKES aren't indelible, no matter how bad they seem. Although it may appear that the unhappy effect of a mistake will be long-lasting, there is something we can do now.
Our errors and the effects they've had on our own and others' lives can be corrected if we're willing to look in the right direction-toward God, divine Love. Past mistakes can be healed, redeemed. It's never too late. ''Divine Love corrects and governs man,'' 1 writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n1 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 6
If we have a deep enough desire to have our mistakes redeemed, nothing can stop us from putting that desire into action in unselfish prayer and living. If you think you've said or done something (or failed to do something) that has caused unhappiness, take heart and remember Christ Jesus' parable of the prodigal son.2
n2 See Luke 15:11-32.
The young man in the story had asked his father for his inheritance early. It seems he had big plans, and he didn't want to wait. After receiving his share of his father's property, he left home and ended up wasting it all on ''riotous living.'' Apparently the ''good time'' he had planned didn't last long.
Finally, the only thing he could find to do was to feed swine. The story describes his plight: ''And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.'' At what a low point his mistake left him!
Then ''he came to himself.'' He decided to go home, admit his mistake, and ask to work for his father as a servant.
How was he received? When the father saw him coming, he rushed to his son and embraced him. Rather than condemn the son or berate him for his obvious mistakes, the father held a celebration for the young man's safe return. The father's pure love and forgiveness resulted in a precious restoration.
In telling this parable Jesus wasn't suggesting that our faults can be overlooked. Wasn't he instead showing us that we need to ''come to ourselves''-our true selves-and begin to identify ourselves as our creator sees us? We need to realize that our true selfhood is the perfect, beloved offspring of God. Referring to God, Mrs. Eddy writes: ''Omnipotent and infinite Mind made all and includes all. This Mind does not make mistakes and subsequently correct them. God does not cause man to sin, to be sick, or to die.'' 3
n3 Science and Health p. 206.
We're not hopeless sinners, dull repeaters of mistakes in a world of endless temptations and disappointments. Our actual being is the strong, beloved child of God. And because it is, we can have the faith and courage to turn homeward-Godward-to discern our inherent goodness. We need to cherish our true nature (and our brother's as well) even if it doesn't always seem readily apparent. And we need to live in harmony with that nature more consistently, expressing greater love and purity, in order to redeem past mistakes.
The forgiveness of sins and mistakes is not a waving aside of them. It is an actual correcting of the mistake by divine Love. When the wrong motive or false view of man that prompted the mistake is cor-rected-eliminated from our thinking-the effects of that false view can be fully redeemed as well.
This may happen suddenly or gradually, but it will happen in proportion as we let divine Love correct and govern our thoughts, thoughts of the past as well as thoughts of the present. Thoughts brimming with honesty, sincerity, and spiritual insight will express themselves in wise action. We may find ourselves able to see an opportunity to make up for the mistake. We may see how the apparent effects of the mistake can be healed and what our part is in the healing. In every case, we can open our hearts and minds expectantly, knowing that in truth, in the spiritual reality of existence, God neither knows nor permits mistakes and that His children reflect His nature.
There is no circumstance beyond divine Love's redemptive power. When one walks in accord with the law of divine Love, ''none of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live.'' 4
n4 Ezekiel 33:16.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE O, Lord, thou hast pleaded the causes of my soul; thou hast redeemed my life. Lamentations3:58