I recently filled out a survey that asked me whether I felt that I deserved to suffer a consequence for making a mistake. That made me think. What is a mistake? What is a consequence? I feel that I make mistakes every day -- I might do my errands in the wrong order; I may be late to pick up my kids; I might choose the wrong shoes for the circumstances. I say something I wish I hadn't said; I miss a deadline.
Intrigued, I looked up "mistake" and "consequence" in the Merriam Webster's Collegiate Edition and found these definitions:
mistake - an error or a fault resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness. A misconception or misunderstanding.
consequence: something that logically or naturally follows from an action or condition. A logical conclusion or inference.
Most people would say that things will happen due to some action, and I have to agree, there do seem to be consequences from actions, but are they permanent and life-altering? Are they natural and logical conclusions? Are consequences always negative?
I have found myself in many situations where the consequences seemed dire and mistakes -- defective judgment -- was definitely the culprit. But as a Christian Scientist, I found these sometimes alarming situations to be opportunities to take my thought higher, to rise and see things from a more scientific perspective, rather than my own imagination or the systems of thought that seem to govern us (political, legal, environmental, medical, age, physiology, family).
By examining mistakes or problems in Christian Science, I've learned to see the constant operation of two divine principles -- adjustment and mercy.
There is a well-known Christian Science article by Adam H. Dickey, titled God's Law of Adjustment, written in 1916 and published by the Christian Science Publishing Society. That article explains that once we put our problematic situation into the mental frame, we find a solution -- showing that we cannot be in a place, condition, relationship, or situation where God is not providing a solution to right the problem.
But, what is right? This is the key. Christian Science explains right in many ways, but one that I love is "harmony, health, holiness." (By holiness, I like referring to Webster's 1828 dictionary defining it as moral wholeness or goodness, not perfection.) For me, the key to right thinking and acting is in having a true north to point to, one based on principles rather than personal preferences. This frame of reference helps me know how to think and act rightly.
If one's frame of reference is constantly looking for health, harmony, holiness, one is constantly adjusting thought to be in relation to what is most and highest right for the situation. Therefore, a mistake is never permanent and faulty logic never holds government because one is in a state of constant action, adjusting to be in relation to right.
Many of my seeming mistakes also rely on the ever-presence of God, good, in the actions of others. So, when I'm late picking up my kids from the bus, I don't go into a total panic, I listen for direction to where to find my children and they listen for direction of where to be, when. When I say the wrong thing, I trust that the grace of God, found in divine mercy, will be there when I need it to be there.
With this, I feel more empowered and more grateful for God's mercy as I work to soothe out the seeming consequences of faulty judgment or carelessness. Can you picture the new perspective in which you are in constant action, constant adjustment to what is right? Can you see how quickly things can change and how you can be redirected in an instant? To me, this is liberating.
In Christian Science, God is constant goodness and is always in action, never varying. The patience is on our part, and how long it takes to adjust to God's way, which is always harmonious. It's a challenge yes, but a challenge to grace. Applying God's law of adjustment, I open my thought to find new answers to problems, as well as more mercy for myself, family, and the world.