I want the peace of God.
After Review V and prior to Lesson 181, we were given a brief introduction to the lessons that followed (181 – 200). It was just a few paragraphs but there was no mistaking the theme, commitment. We were encouraged to check in with our commitment, as the following exercises would draw upon our purest of intentions. If you recall, there was also a list of contemplative questions, one of them being, “What do I desire most, above all things?” This is a key question that leads us to today’s statement. Do you want the peace of God above all things? You shall not fail if your answer is sincere.
“What do you ask for in your heart? Forget the words you use in making your requests. Consider but what you believe will comfort you, and bring you happiness” (ACIM Lesson 185 8:2-4).
Our journey has led us to a place beyond words and to a place of honesty. It is all well and good to say that we desire God above all else. It sure does sound good and rather noble. But it does not matter how many times we repeat, “I want the peace of God,” if our hearts truly do not desire it. It is the power behind those words that carries our feet forward as we claim what we have denied for so long, our inherent peace.
“To say these words is nothing. But to mean these words is everything” (ACIM Lesson 185 1:1-2).
Often, the real test comes when we say these words and don’t feel like anything has happened: our jobs are still draining, we still fight with our partners, more money has not miraculously appeared in our bank accounts, etc. Yet we must be patient. We must realize that our outer life is a collection of snapshots. There is something much bigger present beyond the still photo. For example, if you took a picture of yourself everyday for an entire year and then reviewed the photos, it may not be until a few months down the road that you notice how you have slightly changed. Each day there was always a new you, different from the day before, yet it is tough to see when you are so close to the canvas. Taking a step back is like letting a little time pass, both creating the distance needed for clear vision to emerge. Thus, do not be discouraged if your outer world does not match your inner world instantaneously. If it does, awesome! But just know that every choice you make for peace does not land in a pond without a splash of ripples.
“But be you not dismayed by lingering illusions, for their form is not what matters now” (ACIM Lesson 185 8:5).
As we contemplate the depth of our desire for peace, we are investigating the subtle areas of the mind where we still feel the need to harbor illusions. As we search the mind, we slow down time as we know it. We become so keenly aware to the feeling that proceeds a moment. We are slowing our pace to the decision before the decision. As we encounter our thoughts and the choices in our lives, there is a choice that lies before the “typical” questions we are used to answering:
Right or left?
Shorts or pants?
Dessert or no dessert?
Say something to a colleague or not?
Move or stay?
Prior to any worldly question or contemplation, there is the choice for peace: “Do I want peace or something fleeting to fill the moment?” It is truly that simple. Thus, awareness slows down time to the speed of that one decision, the one for peace and love. Can you imagine if all minds slowed down to that one pre-decision before all other decisions were made? World peace would surely be achieved.
“The world would be completely changed, should any two agree these words express the only thing they want” (ACIM Lesson 185 2:9).
Yet today’s lesson is not about getting caught up in the world’s decision but rather your own. The peace you desire above all else will inspire the entire world around you to seek what you have sought. You need not say anything, just live in peace as you have chosen peace.
Peace is just a knowing. It is an invisible energy you carry around with you. You do not have to tell your waitress, “I’ll have the special of the day with a side of peace,” and give her a wink. Nor do you have to wear a t-shirt to let people know you believe in peace. Your actions, the way you show up to each moment, says it all so you do not have to. Once more, we are going beyond words. You live by the choices you make. You live in peace because you choose peace.
It does not take a long investigation or a scientist to figure out what you are choosing in life. Look around you. What do you surround yourself with? Who do you surround yourself with? What are you putting into your body? What are you reading? What are watching on television or the Internet? This does not mean that we cannot enjoy the conveniences of the modern world, such as good food or a plethora of viewing options. It simply means to be aware of the choices you are making. What sort of habits do you have? Why do you do the things you do? Investigate your life and, in particular, that moment before a decision is made. Ask yourself,
“Is this what I would have, in place of Heaven and the peace of God?” (ACIM Lesson 185 8:8).
Ideally, we will start to see that peace emerges when we have the mindset, “Easy come. Easy go.” We come to graduate from peace or XYZ, to only seeing options of peace. We can enjoy our life no matter what we have or see in the world because peace cannot be taken away nor can it fall trap to loss or gain. Thus, the point is not to live life meagerly. Live it as you wish. Who is to say what peace looks like for you. Peace may have some outer attribute but it is truly felt with the heart and seen in our actions.
So, what do you truly want above all else? Not only ask yourself this throughout the day but also get out a sheet of a paper and make a list. Let your mind start to inventory the typical: ice cream, new clothes, trip to Spain, learn the guitar, write a book, find a new job, save money, buy a new couch, etc. You will notice that once the ego speaks its mind, other items will emerge and so will a different feeling in the body. You may start to write that you desire surrender, peace, love, knowing my self-worth, seeing my Light, living the Will of God, being in the flow of the Divine Universe, etc. Once your mind goes beyond the world of illusion you will begin to see that choice you want above all else, the choice for everlasting peace. You will start to see it is that energy that fills the moments before you make any decisions. And from that moment of peace, are your other moments built upon. There is no day but today to choose peace.