God is the Love in which I forgive.
Our next step in A Course in Miracles takes us to the main premise of the text, forgiveness. Yes, sigh… Why should we have to forgive, right? Someone has wronged us. They must pay!!! I know, I know. I have been there. In that hell, chasing my retribution that has yet to come.
I assure you that after this lesson, and if not, definitely after the final lesson, you will be singing a different tune. The tune of Love, which forgives all because there is technically nothing to forgive.
Nothing to forgive? Yes, but be patient with this. It is valid that you feel hurt and anger about something that has happened to you. I just ask you to recall and put into practice some lessons we have already covered and think how they can be applied to the concept “but it never happened:”
Lesson 2: I have given everything I see in this room [on this street, from this window, in this place] all the meaning that it has for me.
Lesson 5: I am never upset for the reason I think.
Lesson 9: I see nothing as it is now.
Lesson 10: My thoughts do not mean anything.
Lesson 22: What I see is a form of vengeance.
Lesson 25: I do not know what anything is for.
Lesson 32: I have invented the world I see.
Lesson 34: I can see peace instead of this.
Just to name a few…. As you can see we have been working our way towards this critical concept in which the Course defines as forgiveness. Our steps have been appropriate as our resentment and unresolved hurts can end up being that little pinky we can’t leave out of heaven. Remember, we must be all in.
I didn’t realize how much I had shifted my perception (yay a miracle!) around forgiveness. It wasn’t until recently, when I received a letter summoning me for jury duty. I know this is a dreaded letter for some but for me it wasn’t so much the bother of having to keep my schedule open for a week of jury duty but it was the idea that what if I had to be on a jury and determine if someone was guilty or not when I didn’t feel that I could be the judge of that? How could I judge another Child of God?
Luckily, I was dismissed from duty and wasn’t put in that position but on the other hand, what a shift within me! Something in me felt very deeply connected to not condemning my fellow man, my fellow brother or sister.
“Fear condemns and love forgives (ACIM Lesson 46 2:2).”
Thus, today we take a step towards letting love lead us. In letting love lead us that means there is only room for love, and not fear or judgment. So, yes, today we come to face to face with those who we believe have wronged us in any way, shape, or form.
I remember about ten years ago I went through a patch where the Universe was sending me a fair share of people and instances that seemed to need forgiveness. I was getting hit one after another with material for forgiveness. My life was getting rather weighty with all this material. All I heard from family, friends, and a therapist was to forgive those who have seemed to wrong me. But it hurt so badly. I could say I forgave them but my body was still holding onto anger, sadness, rage, hurt, etc. No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to get there. And I did want to get there but nothing was working. As many of you know, it feels pretty icky when you carry around a lot of anger, resentment, and hurt and I wanted my life without this residue.
I started to wonder if I had given away my allotment of forgiveness in my life already. I was raised in a rather traumatic household at times and had worked hard to forgive things that happened during my childhood and adolescence. Then there were friends and boyfriends that had hurt me that I somehow seemed to forgive. So about ten years ago I felt that I had depleted the allotment of forgiveness I had been born with. I had reached a point where I felt I had no forgiveness left in me to give.
I tried to “fake it to you make it.” This was okay but it didn’t touch the anger or rage inside me that was literally eating away at my body. I tried to forget. Well, with the signals my body was sending me, I wasn’t forgetting anything. Therapy was helpful. Books were helpful. I even bought a book called How to Forgive, which gave me a step-by-step process of what to do. But guess what? Still nothing.
What I realize now was that I was approaching forgiveness how I approached my life, like a checklist: tell me what I need to do and I will do it. Done. Let’s move on. But true forgiveness doesn’t work that way. Similar to how love doesn’t work that way. It’s more than lip service. That is why my forgiveness bucket in life was feeling depleted because I was going about it from how the world forgives. I was going about it from the outside in and not the inside out and not from how the Creator forgives:
“God does not forgive because He has never condemned (ACIM Lesson 46 1:1).”
“Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness (ACIM Lesson 46 2:1).”
Thus, as we can all attest to, what used to work in the department of forgiveness no longer worked. It was time to go inward. And come to find out, there may be still be some more forgiveness work to be done on what I thought I had already forgiven. That is why those that call us to practice forgiveness are gifts in our lives. They give us a barometer to gauge what we are merely giving lip service to on our journey and where in our lives we truly know we are Light and Love. If we are truly in abiding in Light and Love, anything can happen to us and we can remain neutral and unaffected. Nothing can harm us, remember? But if are wavering just a little, those gifts can trigger the floodgates to open releasing feelings from years past to today that we didn’t even know existed or where still there. But this is the key to forgiveness: nothing happens to you, it happens for you. Those gifts, known as people you need to forgive, happen for the benefit of you.
Today, this lesson is happening for you. It truly is all about you. Often when one holds a grudge, it is common to hear “Do I really have to forgive her? But she doesn’t deserve it.” Well, it is simple and it all comes back to the choice you have: Do you want to harvest love or fear? This is where the Course keeps us accountable because if we are reading the text and doing the lessons we have made the choice for love but here’s the kicker, are we living it? Forgiving is living in love. Holding onto hurt is living in fear. So, if you are committed to the Course and choosing love then yes, it is imperative that your Sister in Christ is forgiven and yes she is more than deserving of it. Because like you, she is a Child of God. Whole and perfect, just like you.
At this point, you may next hear the ego say, “Ugh, this person is perfect? Whole? A Child of God?” Let me be the Voice of Remembrance for you, YES SHE IS! And today is about knowing this but without any special effort on your part. Once more it is best if you don’t effort so much.
Now, I know many of us could be considered a candidate for a Ph.D. in forgiveness work with all the techniques and visualizations we have tried. I am sure most of us have been at this for many lifetimes. But today, as we begin our discussion of forgiveness as the Course will define it, it is a brand new day energized with the first step that will end our lifelong journey (or lifetimes) of forgiveness. The mind will not want to go easy, so that is why we start today with Lesson 46 as we begin to untrain the mind in the way it has responded to hurt and wrong doing. This is not about setting someone else free, that is a nice byproduct, but this is about setting you free. Once and for all!
“Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. As you condemn only yourself, so you do forgive only yourself (ACIM Lesson 46 1:4-5).”
But what do you have to forgive yourself for, right? You have done nothing. No, no you haven’t done anything wrong. Neither has anyone else. What we do forgive is ever thinking we were separate from Source. From thinking we were anything but the Light of the World. We forgive ourselves for pretending to forget that we are Children of God. There is condemning. There is only remembering. There is only the At-One-Ment.
Today we feel the power of God’s Love. We witness in our practice periods how God’s love envelops any person whom we have not yet fully forgiven. God’s Love also envelops the ways in which we have not forgiven ourselves.
“It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. You have forgiven them entirely or not at all (ACIM Lesson 46 3:4-5).”
When it comes to the practice periods I find it amazing how I can recall someone who seemed to have hurt me in the past yet it feels like they are still doing it. But they are not. They are not in front of me. They are not doing anything to me at all. It is only my memory. And it is this memory that is so heavy and keeping me from love. Once more this brings to mind a previous Course lesson as I wonder if my memory is even correct since I do not know what anything means or what it is for?
As we go through the practice periods we recognize that we are doing nothing at all to forgive another. It is God’s love, which is flowing through us and enveloping the other who appears to have wronged us. This is what makes this approach to forgiveness so different and unique. It is allowing God’s love to come in and correct our misperception, that there was never anything really done wrong at all. We no longer have to chase for our retribution, we merely turn within to God’s love and allow Her to move through us.
This is truly all about you. As you forgive another, you forgive yourself. It only requires your willingness and nothing more on your part. And what do you get? You get your Light back, which was never really taken from you at all. And with that you travel this world lighter and brighter as you no longer carry the weight of resentment, hurt, or ill will.
We give thanks for those who we feel the need to forgive. Why? Because they reminded us where we can love ourselves more. They are the triggers that remind us to claim Who and What we truly are. They are the reminders to reclaim our power.
But as LeVar Burton from Reading Rainbow says, “you don’t have to take my word for it.” Do the practice periods and see for yourself.