There is a certain pattern to my practice of A Course in Miracles. Lately it has become more pronounced. I stumble into a state of real happiness and peace. It’s heavenly, if you’ll forgive a cliche. But then – after a minute or a few hours, sometimes even a day or two – doubt and fear enter. I doubt the feeling is real or that I’m worthy of it. I fear losing it.
In response to that fear and doubt, two things happen simultaneously. First, I clutch at the peace, trying to make it mine because I don’t trust God. I don’t trust the peace. Second, I become dismissive. “Oh well. I don’t really want that love anyway. Take your ball and go play with some other sucker, Jesus.”
And then, sure enough, I am separated from the love of God. And it hurts so much.
Here is what I am learning right now: it is important to see that I am choosing against Love. I don’t want to see that and I certainly don’t want to say it. But it’s true. I want the Love that Jesus offers to be conditional. I want an external God to offer and then jerk it away, like a cat toying with a mouse. That’s how God is, right? Cruel and spiteful, delighting in my misery.
If I can convince myself that is true, then there is nothing to be done. It’s not my choice to be unhappy; it’s just how it is. I am God’s victim.
That’s the lie that allows me to blame someone else – God and Jesus, in this case – for my unhappiness.
In a way, we preserve the egoic self – we make it real – by defending it against these imagined attacks from God.
There is a wonderful line in the course that asks us: do you prefer that you be right or happy (T-29.VII.1:9)?
Be glad that you are told where happiness abides, and seek no longer elsewhere. You will fail. But it is given you to know the truth, and not to seek for it outside yourself (T-29.VII.1:10-12).
Sometimes I feel that somewhere, somehow, I whispered “yes.” I thought God wasn’t listening. Probably I hoped he wasn’t. But he was. He sent Jesus and the Holy Spirit. And they have taught me so patiently. Their lesson is so simple: I am doing this to myself. And so I can choose not to do it. They will help.
No more than that, but no less either. It is enough.
Before this Love – even with such teachers beside me – I am scared. I don’t want to lose myself – small, sad and pathetic as that self is. I think it’s all I have. To surrender it and live in God . . . what is that but annihilation? What is that but loss?
And so it goes. It is too late to turn back and tarrying has become so painful. “Follow me,” says Jesus. “You who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
One or two steps only and the journey ends where it began: in Love.