The Truth About Mistakes
Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life
Have you ever made a mistake? One that couldn't be taken back or corrected? One that affected the whole rest of your life?
I have. It's a tough place to be. You know it was a mistake, and now you have to live with the consequences. In my case, I had sex with a friend of mine. I cared for him, but it wasn't like we were in love. This in itself wasn't remarkable, since I'd been messing around with guys off and on for a long time. But this time I got pregnant. Finally, it had all caught up with me.
What would you have done? Would you have cried a lot, like I did? Would you have blamed him or yourself, worried about what other people would think, started making impossible plans, or just given up? I tried them all.
But then, when I was tapped out, I remembered God. At a Sunday School I'd gone to for years, a Christian Science Sunday School, I was told that God loved me and would help with anything. And if I ever needed His help, it was now!
At first, though, I wasn't sure I deserved God's help. After all, wasn't it my own fault? Maybe asking for God's help would be wrong. I tried to get up the nerve to pray, and lines from a hymn that I'd learned long ago popped into my head:
Who the word of wisdom heareth
Feels the Father Love within,
Where as dawn the shadow cleareth,
Love outshines the night of sin.
(Christian Science Hymnal, No. 263)
That was the first answer! God's love for me, and for the child's father, and for the child, could and would outshine any slip-up on my part.
Even though a mistake had led me into this predicament, I wasn't mistaken now. Past mistakes had no power to haunt my future, once I stopped making them. Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, wrote Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. It says on page 253, "If you believe in and practise wrong knowingly, you can at once change your course and do right."
As I prayed, I grew more certain that it was right for me to have the baby. But there was another question: I also knew I couldn't hope to do a good job of parenting all by myself. I needed help. How could I be sure that God would help me not just now but in all the years that I was raising a child?
Answer number two came from the Bible, from an experience in which Christ Jesus helped an adulterous woman (see John 8:3-11). She needed help because she was about to be stoned to death. Jesus defended the woman. He also told her, "Go, and sin no more." I related this to my situation and saw I needed to acknowledge what I had done wrong and then leave it behind. It had been wrong for me to live the way I'd been, taking advantage of my friendships for pleasure. Seeking love and fulfillment from casual sex had been a mistake. As soon as I knew that, as soon as I really understood it, I was filled with the conviction that I could clean up my act. Humbly, in my prayer, I resolved to do just that. I would change.
What was cool about this was that I didn't have to prove it to anyone. I didn't have to say anything about it or be forgiven by any person. I knew in my heart that the change had taken place, and I knew that God knew it, too. Long before anyone could even tell I was pregnant, I was a different person.
Well, I had the baby. He's a great little guy. I smile when I remember that what had at first felt like a punishment turned out to be such a treasure. My life did change from that point on. It hasn't always been easy, but I have learned to resist the temptation to do what I feel isn't right and have stopped acting on physical urges. As a preoccupation with sex was replaced with a greater awareness of spiritual joy, my desire for casual intimacy left me. And I'm convinced that it was my commitment to learning from a mistake that has opened the door for me-and my child-to see God's loving support all around us.
So, what happened to the mistake? Can I still call it a mistake? It became a blessing, because I left it behind and reformed. If you've ever done anything you regret, you can take it straight to God. No matter what, prayer brings a way out of mistakes and into joy, peace, and freedom.