There are times when we are apt to feel quite proud and righteous – secretly or otherwise – about our progress as students of A Course in Miracles. Peace is prevalent in our heart. We understand difficult Course ideas like “to have all, give all.” The metaphysics are not puzzle pieces but a completed picture. We’ve got it. It’s time for Jesus to give us an A+ and let us graduate into Heaven.
Have you been in that space? I have. And it’s okay. It doesn’t make Jesus crave a belt of whiskey. We aren’t loved any less. We aren’t going to be asked to stand in a corner or stay inside while the other students enjoy recess.
But being better (in relation to an earlier version of ourselves) or best (in relation to other course students) is part of the same old ego game of judgment and condemnation. It’s still attack. The ego lives by comparison, because comparison always finds fault or scarcity or insufficiency somewhere. Separation thinking is separation thinking, even when it’s making us happy.
If we’re lucky, it doesn’t last. We come back to earth so to speak. If we’re honest with ourselves, it can happen very quickly. I walk around sometimes like I’m God’s gift to spiritually-minded people everywhere and then bam! I behave like a child who was just asked to share his favorite toy. I lose my patience with someone. I speak in anger. I indulge in revenge fantasies. And I think: oh my God. I’m the worst ACIM student ever. And I try to slink off to where Jesus won’t see me.
Maybe you are familiar with that cycle.
I am always grateful for the good days. Last night it stormed something fierce and the kids and Chrisoula and I turned off the lights and sat on the big bed and watched purple lightening sear across the rainy sky. It was an awesome, cozy and fun experience. I hope you had some loving moments like that yesterday, too.
But I am more grateful for the falling-apart moments. There was also one of those yesterday. Why am I more grateful for the experience that was painful and difficult? Because it is easier right now for me to see the separation in it. Because in those moments it is clear – as clear as last night’s lightening – that I continue to hold myself apart from God and deny both me and my brothers and sisters God’s divine mercy, grace and love. Thus, pain. Thus, sorrow. Thus, grief.
When I see that – however ugly it is, however much it makes me want to throw up or hide beneath the bed – then I know I need correction. I know that I still need the atonement.
The secret salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. No matter what the form of the attack, this is still true (T-27.VIII.10:1-2).
When I first read those words years ago, I loved them. They seemed so empowering! And they are. But as the journey deepens, I see that they also imply great responsibility. In that light, they are intimidating. Am I willing to look at myself and see not just what I like, not just what is deemed socially acceptable, not just what I’ve decided is compatible with Jesus?Am I ready not to compromise? Not to justify? Not to hedge?
Am I ready to bring all my suffering to the Holy Spirit – however ugly it seems, however insane, however deranged and vile? Am I ready now to keep no secrets from Jesus? It is easy to say yes, but hard to sustain in practice. It means giving up that self-righteousness I talked of earlier, that intellectual confidence. It means trusting that there is light beyond the ego’s interior horror show and trusting too that there is a companion who can help me get to it.
It isn’t easy and it isn’t for everyone. A Course in Miracles is not very warm and fuzzy when you really get into it. It is a demanding and rigorous spiritual practice that will dissolve your ego. That experience is probably not going to feel good. It’s probably going to be painful and scary. It’s helpful, yes. But still hard. Maybe excruciatingly so.
But remember: we are doing it to ourselves. We aren’t victims of anyone but ourselves. So we can undo it, too. With help, we can.
The Holy Spirit will repeat this one inclusive lesson of deliverance until it has been learned, regardless of the form of suffering that brings you pain. Whatever hurt you bring to Him He will make answer with this very simple truth. For this one answer takes away the cause of every form of sorrow and of pain (T-27.VIII.11:2-4).
And so it goes. At home in Heaven, we insist on dreams of Hell. And God waits, longing for us as we profess to long for God. And Jesus nudges us and calls us out of the shadows, promising it’s all going to be okay. The Holy Spirit patiently steers us, unconcerned about the one-step-forward-two-steps-back-and-half-a-step-sideways dance to which we seem permanently addicted.
So we’re getting there, you and I. Together, it is working.