Lessons from a rearview mirror

The idea that there’s a divine basis for growth and progress freed today’s contributor from the pull of disturbing memories.

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Progress is a built-in desire for each and every man, woman, and child. Often that progress appears as better health, a deeper sense of peace even in troubled times, or greater productivity and satisfaction. But sometimes harmful past experiences may dominate our present outlook so much that negative results seem inescapable, and new and better experiences can’t even be imagined.

There’s a way out of such hopelessness, though, through a different approach to reviewing our lives. I’ve found a helpful life metaphor in driving a car. It goes like this: When you learn the basics of driving, you gain the habit of glancing back in the rearview mirror to orient yourself. Good drivers know that this occasional look back is important; you need to see where other cars are in order to travel safely. But no one drives looking backward all the time. Or even a lot of the time. Drivers have to see where they’re going down the road in order to move forward to their destination.

We best move forward in our lives in the same way. Periodically glancing back to learn important lessons and to solidify the gains we have made in our goals, skills, or understanding can orient us. But what has become clear to me from my own experience is that turning our thought in a different direction – a spiritual direction – is what impels lasting momentum and progress.

I began to learn of this invigorating and transforming perspective after difficult years in my youth left me searching for a greater sense of self-worth and peace. For years during and after that period, I was constantly looking back in regret and felt stuck in what seemed like an inescapable sense of self-blame.

It was the practical theology of Christian Science that helped me. It enabled me to see God as a merciful and divine Mind who creates each of us as the spiritual expression of His limitless good. Each individual is the needed and valued creation of the same God, the same divine Father-Mother. In acknowledging this, we come to realize that it’s natural to experience more health, peace, and joy. Such progress is a divine right we universally share, under divine impulsion. And no one owns it more than another. When we support and acknowledge this ability to move forward regardless of past failures, then opportunities for fresh starts and healing surface.

I saw I had a choice: I could honor and accept my right to look forward, striving to view an ever-expanding horizon through the lens of everyone’s God-given worth and boundless capacity for growth, or I could limit myself by taking extended hopeless, backward looks in the rearview mirror of life. I chose the spiritual view, and while the growth continues, the disturbing memories and sense of rejection are gone, and joyful, more meaningful, and healthier living has resulted.

Unrestricted progress belongs to everyone. It’s more than a human hope. It is a God-given right. And gaining this spiritual viewpoint changes lives.

Adapted from the May 16, 2018, Christian Science Daily Lift podcast.

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