ALL of us are familiar with patterns--in clothing, in traffic, in landscapes. I vividly remember the pattern of greens I saw from a plane flying over Ireland! There are other patterns, however, that are not so pleasant. Patterns of failure, anger, dishonesty, or loss are among them. These are patterns we do not want, but sometimes seem to live and relive. If you are in one of these patterns and feel trapped by it, the good news is that you can break free. And prayer, based on the Scriptures, will show yo u how.
If there was ever a man who knew how to help individuals to eliminate from themselves their own destructive patterns of behavior and thought, it was Christ Jesus. He dealt with prostitutes, corrupt officials, uncontrolled temper, and fearfulness. Those who really wanted to change their lives were able to do so, however, as a result of his teachings.
One constructive pattern that shows up consistently in Jesus' work with people is his refusal to condemn them. This doesn't mean that he ignored wrongdoing. But he did release individuals from it by lifting their thoughts to a higher view of themselves and their relationship to God. He taught that a knowledge of God and of our own wholly spiritual identity could totally transform our lives.
Jesus recognized that repentance --the willingness to admit our mistakes and to change our ways--is a vital first step in overcoming sin and failure. He also knew that we need to go beyond being sorry, by conforming to what we are as God's creation. This change does not come about through some grand pronouncement. Spiritual growth and renewal come daily as we accept the joys and responsibilities of being the spiritual reflection of God. Both are expressed in this invitation from the Master, which is foun d in Matthew's Gospel: ``Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light'' (11:28-30).
This yoke provides us with the spiritual discipline to break any material pattern of thought that has been holding us hostage. Christ, the true idea of God and of man, is the pattern we need. This true idea is that you are spiritual, beloved of God, occupying a distinct niche in His universe. As you recognize this fact, and live in accord with it, you will perceive more and more of who and what you are as God's idea. You will expand your mental universe sufficiently that old limits will burst, and you wi ll be free.
The way to this new view of life is described fully in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. As the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mrs. Eddy saw how spirituality enables us to break out of destructive patterns. She says in Science and Health, ``Through repentance, spiritual baptism, and regeneration, mortals put off their material beliefs and false individuality'' (p. 242).
This is what you and I do when we accept our spiritual heritage. We put off the ``false individuality that fails or sins. And we do this as we ask ourselves, ``Would the son or daughter of a totally loving God fail or sin, or even be tempted to do so?'' Even when we haven't succeeded in resisting temptation, the Christ-idea is present to give us the strength to resist temptation and make new progress. As our spirituality becomes more real to us, the false nature and all that goes with it will disappear. And we will see clearly that the pattern of spirituality that we really want and that is full of good is already ours.