God is the strength in which I trust.
One way or the other, most of us have been taught that strength is a virtue, and we have been encouraged to develop it. Stand tall. Be strong in the face of adversity. Don’t cry or apologize – they’re signs of weakness. Nobody trusts a weakling. Bob Dylan made a song out of it, simultaneously enshrining both the self and strength in one: If you want somebody you can trust, trust yourself.
A Course in Miracles – surprise surprise – asks us to reconsider all that. And it’s a hard knot to untangle, really. The idea that we have to solve our problems – not to mention the problems of others – is hard-wired for most of us. It’s always an action that we think we have to take – writing this letter, applying for that job, navigating this confrontation, dropping this class, et cetera. Or, worse, somebody else has to do something. We’ll toss a prayer at the problem and then roll up our sleeves and try to fix it ourselves.
And, of course, we botch it. Once in a while we seem to get the square peg in the square hole, but sooner or later something goes haywire again. We’re always trying to figure out what to do next, and what the right or perfect result is. It’s a merry go round that never stops, no matter how sick and unhappy and tired we grow as it spins.
God is the solution. That’s the answer. God. God is the answer. But it’s so simply we resist it! Okay – yes. God but . . . what else? A new diet? A new job? It’s like God is just syllable that we utter, like saying “please” when we ask somebody to pass the ketchup. Reflexive. Not at all critical. Not necessary . . . just a courtesy.
But if we stop and think, it makes sense that we would dial down the solving-our-own-problems problem. Whatever we do, the ripples spread far and wide. There are consequences everywhere. It’s like the Course says, all thought – no matter what the content – produces form at some level. And we can’t possibly figure that out. We can’t possibly calculate every last detail that flows from our decision to eat oatmeal instead of pancakes for breakfast, let alone deciding to switch careers, or get a divorce. There has to be better hands than ours for these things, doesn’t there?
If we can practice reliance on God, then we will learn that yes, there are other hands. Better hands. The big thing in this lesson is getting out of our own way. Once we know that it’s not our job to fix and solve and resolve everything then a little peace can flow in. A little joy can take hold. It’s not necessary to understand how God operates, or what the fix is. We can just establish that another strength – a greater strength – is available and let go from there.
I take comfort from this lesson even as it obviously demeans the ego. Part of me wants the responsibility of the big picture, but I know I can’t do it. I know that I’m not – as I presently understand myself – up to that task. So I practice grounding myself in God. I practice knowing the separation is over and hopefully having that experience as well. It’s slow going. But it’s a good going.