I have an actress friend who performs in a new musical comedy on Broadway. A few weeks back, when the show was still in previews, she had the tiniest of experiences. When she shared it with me, though, I found it shedding a not-at-all tiny light on how to deal with mistakes and recover from them. And I began to glimpse that power of grace to erase any fallout from mistakes.
My friend is prayerful. She starts each day with prayer, and lets that base the activities that follow. On this particular day she prayed with a passage from the Bible. "It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace" (Heb. 13:9). That's what she aimed for, a heart established, even filled full, with the grace of God.
When she got to the theater, the director asked her to make a small adjustment - to be sure she didn't unintentionally slow the opening of the show just as a musical number began.
As showtime approached, she was extra conscious of this, and maybe she tried a little too hard. As the orchestra played, she jumped into the song a bar too early. In the big scheme of things that's not a disaster. But if you're a performing artist and a thousand people are looking at you, it can feel, in that moment, like an enormous mistake.
Somehow it wasn't. In an instant the conductor realized what had happened, made the musical adjustment in a flash, and they went forward seamlessly, getting the laughs in the opening moments of that number that they routinely get there - a sure sign that the audience was with them and probably even unaware that anything amiss had just occurred. She felt the agile recovery had its roots in her early morning prayer for grace.
That night, as she apologized to the conductor, he lightly said, "That's what I'm here for!" A gracious and friendly response. I wonder, though, if his words hint at more meaning than he realized.
That's where grace comes in.
Take, for a moment, a spiritual view of yourself. Align your outlook with the Bible's starting point. God creates man - meaning men and women - as perfect, flawless in every detail, not prone to sins or lapses of judgment or mistakes. That's what you find in the first chapter of the Bible's first book.
At variance with that view, of course, is what you and I come across every day. Because, as humans, we all have lapses or make occasional mistakes. But grace is that wonderful gift that comes from the heavenly Father, through Christ, to us, that bridges any gap between what we appear to be as flawed humans, and what we truly are as God's flawless offspring, His perfect likeness. The grace from God and Christ closes the gap between human appearance and spiritual actuality.
That means, the true spiritual facts of our nature are right here to sustain us humanly. Right here to uphold us and help us live less prone to lapses, sins, misjudgments.
And God's grace is right here to help us recover more speedily if we do make a mistake.
There's a profoundly insightful definition of Christ in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy. "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness" (p. 332).
As we deepen our awareness of that divine message, dealing with mistakes grows easier. We'll find, more consistently, the power of grace is on hand to help erase any troubles stemming from those mistakes. And we may begin to feel that Christ, in some sense, is saying, "That's what I'm here for. I'm here, with all this grace from God. I'm here to carry you through and show to you your true nature as perfect in God's likeness and therefore not subject to mistakes."
Christ brings to open hearts everywhere the grace of God. Then people begin to find that negative effects from their mistakes can in fact lessen. Errors that seemed indelible turn out to be erasable.