Overcoming self-blame

A Christian Science perspective: Healing ideas on correcting mistakes.

Many years ago, I moved to Boston from New York City. Although the apartment I’d rented had seemed like a great idea at the time, once I moved in, it proved to be terrible. There were clearly some issues I hadn’t considered as carefully as I should have when I was looking into housing. The walls were paper thin, and none of the neighbors seemed to have a daytime job as I did: They were up until all hours of the night, playing music so loudly that the walls vibrated. (Really!)

Over and over again, I asked myself how I could have been so stupid and made such a terrible mistake. Finally I saw that this way of thinking was getting me nowhere. I had often found prayer very helpful, so I decided to turn to God for help now.

From my study of Christian Science, I knew that God is always present, guiding us, but we do need to listen! So the first thing I had to do was realize that focusing on blaming myself was not going to bring me the answer I needed.

One message that helped me is from a letter the Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1). Paul is referring to our spiritual nature, which is given to each of us by God, who made us in His image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26, 27). So I knew I could not be separated from the intelligence and love of God.

This spiritual truth is a great “course corrector” for small mistakes as well as big ones. Paul had learned this from his own life. Misunderstanding Christ Jesus’ message, Paul – at the time, Saul – persecuted Christians and even had them killed. Later, he had an overwhelming insight into the Christ, which reveals the true nature of the man God created – who you and I really are. At that point he might have become caught up in the horror of what he had done, but he recognized his wrongs while also moving forward, embracing the spiritual fact of God’s love for all. He was completely transformed, so much so that he became an outstanding healer and teacher of the truth Jesus came to reveal.

As I thought about Paul’s understanding of God as good and loving, not condemnatory, I realized that even though my mistakes were not to the scale of Paul’s, I, too, could make a course correction. Because God is good, His purpose for us is always good, and I could trust my prayers would lead me to the right next step with my housing.

Another idea that sustained me was from Mary Baker Eddy’s book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” One part of the book speaks of two ways of thinking about ourselves. One is the mortal model, which is flawed, unspiritual, and driven by material conditions, including feelings of self-condemnation, blame, frustration, and anger. The other model – the true one – is spiritual, loving, pure, intelligent, good, and obedient to God. The book explains, “We must form perfect models in thought and look at them continually, or we shall never carve them out in grand and noble lives” (p. 248).

From this I realized that I needed to stop identifying with the mortal model and to embrace the spirituality that is true of everyone as God’s child. The Bible clearly teaches that none of us can be separated from God’s love (see Romans 8:38, 39), and this fact is a present help we can turn to even in difficult situations.

Not long after that, I learned about an apartment building closer to work that had vacancies. I carefully checked out the unit I visited and found it was perfect for my needs. The walls and floors were thicker than those in the other apartment, and many of the people living in the new place also had daytime jobs, so the building was quiet at night.

Within a few days, I was able to move. I lived there happily for many years.

If we are in a position where we’re tempted to blame ourselves or to feel stupid about a mistake, we can pray and let God, divine Love, show us that our real nature is spiritual and intelligent. This understanding supplies humility, inspiration, and strength to help us correct mistakes and find a satisfactory solution.

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