I share in God’s Will for happiness for me.
Continuing our Walk in Miracle, we are once more called to look at our attachments to certain concepts that we may be unconsciously guarding. In Lesson 101 we looked at the characteristics of a damaging and judging God we created. Today, we will look at our attachment to our own suffering. Yes, it is clear that we do not want to suffer. One does not stumble across A Course in Miracles, or any other spiritual text, if he or she isn’t sick of suffering and wants to live a happier life. But ask yourself, honestly, if you are ready to release your suffering? There is a difference between the two. Even on a spiritual journey, it is a common belief that it is our due diligence to suffer in order to get to God.
“You may think it buys you something, and may still believe a little that it busy you what you want” (ACIM Lesson 102 1:2).
In the summer of 2014 I went to Fatima, Portugal, a town recognized by the Catholic Church as a holy site. In the early 1900’s a lady in white, who called herself Our Lady of the Rosary, appeared to three children in a field in the small, rural town. She continued to do so on the 13th of the each month from May to October in the year 1917. She was said to have told the children three secrets, one being the details of what would be the Second World War. Her final secret has remained untold by the Vatican, however many connected to the Vatican say that it contained details that surrounded the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981, who had, himself, accredited Our Lady of Fatima to saving his life.
Fatima is an interesting place to visit and is a well-known pilgrimage for many Catholics. When I visited the holy site, I was struck at the similarities with St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Both contained an open space in the middle and were surrounded by holy structures, such as chapels, and had columns adorning the enclosed shape. In St. Peter’s Square there is an obelisk in the center and in Fatima there is a statue of Our Lady. Having seen both places, I was struck in Fatima by the number of people crawling on their knees, across the square, on hard concrete, in penance for their sins. While I was there I even saw a priest making the walk on his knees. As I stood watching this, all I could think of was the pain these people must be in. The suffering their body must be feeling in order to release the suffering that was in their hearts.
I do not mention any of this as a means to say that they are wrong for their actions or to get in some sort of debate. I understand we all have rites and rituals that we like to do to feel closer to God or to feel absolved of something. I enjoy various rituals of my own as a way of symbolizing where I am on my journey with God. I simply mention this as an example for how we do tend to believe that the way to God is through suffering. We tend to believe that since Jesus was crucified to be with God then we should too. Jesus had his journey and so do we, albeit our nails and our cross may be the pain of our thoughts and misguided identities.
Suffering may also be more than just an aspect of religious dogma but a familial one as well. In my family, I was taught that we only come to glory through suffering, with a common motto shared in our home of, “Grit your teeth and bare it.” As I opened my mind, allowing the possibility that I did not have to suffer to be close to God, I experienced how I had a tight grip on this concept, unwilling to let it go because I thought it would mean damnation. I thought accepting that I didn’t have to suffer would just bring more suffering. Thus, I always wore my pain as a badge of honor, thinking that one who suffers most, wins. Wins what? Who knows but at the time, with my familial dogma, the logic seemed flawless.
When I started to abate my concept of suffering, earnestly, I felt it in my body. My vessel began to teach me that I was using pain as a trophy, with the gesture of pressing on through the pain, a sign of a real steward for humanity. For example, I would run miles and miles exhausting my body and spirit in proof of the success of suffering; I would carry all the groceries all the way home, on foot, without any help in proof that through suffering those few steps, I was enough; I would work when I was very sick proving that through suffering, a mind could surely conquer matter; I would always take on more and more work to prove I could withstand suffering the most out of all my colleagues; I did crazy yoga poses even when my body didn’t want (or was meant) to be in them believing that through sacred suffering, I would obtain enlightenment; and I would stay up when I was dog tired to prove that through the suffering of sleep deprivation, I could endure anything (usually more suffering). I thought things like these were “must do’s” on the list of what made a human, a human. If I wasn’t suffering, then I wasn’t human. I always felt suffering was a rite of passage in life.
I started to wake up to my body’s signals and complied more with not making it suffer, especially for my crazy notions. As I was kinder to myself and more aware, I could feel the energy of suffering and its vibration. My body would signal that I was in suffering mode and then in my mind, I would go in deeper and investigate. I started to see that I was addicted to suffering. It was like a drug. I didn’t know who I would be without. Well, yes I did. I thought I would be “less than” without my suffering. I had carried it around with me for so long that I began to feel as though I would be naked without it.
I also started to face what I got out of suffering. It is true, we suffer because we do get something out of it. It may not be pretty but it is something. That is what makes it so addicting. I noticed suffering was continuing to feed the tape that I wasn’t good enough and that if I suffered now, I would be happy later. Thus, my suffering led to more suffering, that was the additive hit I was receiving, which is nothing more than a crazy cycle. It is imperative that we are honest with our suffering and ask ourselves, how addicted are we to drama?
“It offers nothing, and does not exist. And everything you think it offers you is lacking in existence, like itself. You have been slave to nothing” (ACIM Lesson 102 2:3-5).
As I started to let go of my suffering to follow the energy of joy, I realized that I was learning how to trust again and how to use, more wisely, my capacity to serve myself and the world. For example, when I wasn’t suffering, I caught myself thinking about things I could maybe suffer about. In that space of observation, I realized that behind my dramas, was just plain ole’ boredom. I would just try to fill the empty time with things to worry about. I truly would sit and rack my brain over things to stress over. True story. I was so used to living with that vibration, I didn’t know what to do with the space it had left behind. But that is the gift of awareness, I could pause and just be in that space of “boredom.” Once I was bold enough to be bored, I realized that there is never a reason to be bored. There is always something extraordinary going on around me…because God is everywhere. That in itself is pure happiness.
Today, our lesson gives us the opportunity to experience the miracle of happiness that we are guaranteed as we share in God’s Will. Happiness is our divine rite. It is our Divine Will. It is our rite of passage on our journey Home.
“Be happy, for your only function here is happiness. You have no need to be less loving to God’s Son than He Whose Love created him as loving as Himself” (ACIM Lesson 102 5:1-2).
For too long, humanity has joined together in its common thread of suffering. It is time that we shift our consciousness to join one another in our Truth, our happiness. In this new spiritual age, we replace the motto “Misery loves company” with “Happiness loves company.” There is a reason it is said that happiness is contagious.
In our practice periods we learn just how contagious that happiness can be. We learn to trust more in the joy in which we were made to experience in each moment. There is much happiness in the journey as we walk in wonderment of all of creation. Even in what seems to be suffering, there is always the magnificence of our Divinity which has never left Home, leaving us completely safe, untouched, loved, enough, and whole. Truly nothing, absolutely nothing, in this world, created by man or experienced in the body, could ever touch our eternal happiness, shared as God’s Will for us.