I don't know about you, but I have a fair amount of history I'd just as soon forget. Most isn't too serious in nature, but some of it tries to hang around in long- standing personality traits or in my outlook on life or in the fear that someone will learn of my failings.
Over the course of my lifetime, I've managed to make mistakes in just about every category possible: growing up, relationships, business, and finance.
This past year in a writing class, one woman's experience touched me deeply. Her parents had gotten her into prostitution at an early age. After many years, this innately good woman met a man who loved her for her fine qualities. She began to shed old views of herself and realize more of her true substance. Today, she's "rewriting" her family history of parenting in the love and care she shows her own 9-year-old daughter.
The notion of rewriting history, or better yet eliminating what doesn't need to belong to us, can be very appealing. In last year's movie, "The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," characters Joel and Clementine underwent a procedure that erased memories of their relationship turned sour. Can one fully and finally shed the past, or must we dredge it up to work it out?
One day, I read a statement that struck at the core of this question. Mary Baker Eddy had anything but an easy life. Besieged by illness, poverty, and the loss of her son, she faced some strident challenges. Yet as a great student of the Bible, she was aware of Paul's promise to the Corinthians that "we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye" (I Cor. 15:51, 52). To that end, she observed, "The human history needs to be revised, and the material record expunged" ("Retrospection and Introspection," p. 22).
Over the years, I've discovered that recognizing God as Spirit and myself as His image and likeness helps to revise and expunge. Since the substance of my being is from God, it is spiritual. That means it was never born into matter, so it has no history in it. Such realization frees one from bondage to heredity, false education, or past mistakes that have been corrected.
Saul, later named Paul, provides a great example. Well-known for persecuting Christians, he was struck by his own blindness. He learned that he needed to accept Christ, his divine consciousness and unseverable link to a God of grace, rather than rebel against it. This transformed him just as it will everyone.
He later wrote, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (II Cor. 5:17). That's the promise of revising the human history and expunging the material record - all things become new.
A friend of mine had just such a life-transforming experience. Twenty-five years ago, she was a student at a top university until she received a low grade was dropped as a full-time student. For years, she felt that she was a failure.
Recently, she kept thinking about returning to school. She has learned that her capabilities come from an infinite source called God. She'd always hoped to finish her degree, but had been unable to face her earlier challenges. Still, she persistently prayed to see that without a material history, each day could be new. She didn't have to carry the baggage of an earlier experience into this one.
Finally, she carved out a day to sift through the administrative requirements. Much to the surprise of the counselor, her records hadn't been archived. Yellow with age, they told the whole story. The professor had made a mistake and then corrected the grade. She shouldn't have been bumped and should have been notified of the change. In fact, the records still listed her as an active student, and she recently enrolled in a class.
No matter how extreme, human history can be revised. I like the Bible's reminder that with God all all things are made new.