Nagging character flaws -- can they be healed?

It would sometimes seem as if each of us is basically a ''nice'' person, but is perpetually plagued by a nagging character flaw. Maybe it's lack of order, inability to make decisions on our own, habitual tardiness, or procrastination. None of these, by itself, may seem so awful, and we sometimes joke about such traits, accept them as part of our being, something we'll just have to live with.

However, deep inside we may not be satisfied, and may be disturbed when this flaw is exhibited. I know, because for years I leaned on others to make decisions for me. What was wrong with that? I trusted their judgment, rationalizing that they were more experienced. Yet these were my decisions. I needed to accept responsibility for my actions and not turn around and blame someone else later for influencing me wrongly.

This all came to a head - to a healing - after a shopping trip with my mom, who was visiting from out of town. I wanted a blouse, I think, and kept asking her to decide which one I should buy. She wisely refused to give her advice, saying I was the one who would be wearing it. And so home we came with no purchase.

A few days later I received a letter from my mother suggesting that I face up to this flaw - the apparent inability to make decisions - and do something about it. She suggested that each morning I specifically acknowledge the truth of my being - that I express God in all His ways, and that this enables me to know what to do or say at each moment. I knew this was true, and I knew why. A familiar proverb from the Bible came to thought: ''Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.'' n1

n1 proverbs 3:5, 6.

Right then I humbly acknowledged that it is God who causes me to be, to know - to be good, to be right, to know good, to know what is right. I knew the healing was complete at that moment, because I saw that my true and only selfhood is the reflection of God, not a struggling mortal.

The healing was confirmed only a few days later when I followed up an ad describing a larger home and effortlessly made the decision to move. I really needed the additional bedroom this new place provided, but had not thought of moving prior to this. And I can't remember agonizing over decisions, small or large, since that day.

Healing isn't dependent on time but on spiritual understanding and clarity of thought. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, says it so simply: ''The admission to one's self that man is God's own likeness sets man free to master the infinite idea.'' n2 This isn't just a verbal admission or pledge to others; it is how we really view ourselves in the recesses of our own hearts. This is where the struggle and the healing take place.

n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 90.

Trying to correct our actions without God's help is merely human will. It's thinking we're mortals, striving on our own to be better mortals. Admitting to ourselves that we are God's own likeness involves the humble realization that a likeness can't do anything of itself, good or bad. Such an admission refocuses thought on what God is and is doing and therefore on what He is causing man to be and do. Christ Jesus humbly describes this standpoint in eight simple words: ''I can of mine own self do nothing.'' n3

n3 John 5:30.

I had been beholding myself as an inexperienced female with no authority to make decisions. What happened to me, at least to some degree, and can happen to each of us, is described elsewhere in the Bible: ''We all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. n4 As we admit, and come to deeply feel, that we are God's own spiritual likeness, we ''are changed into the same image'' - every aspect of our daily life progressively shows forth the truth that man does reflect and express all the qualities of good.

n4 II Corinthians 3:18.

DAILY BIBLE VERSE Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Matthew 5:48

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