I choose the joy of God instead of pain.
On the human journey we often feel more like the mistake rather than the joyous miracle we are. We identify ourselves with the one who makes the wrong choices; the one who causes others to suffer; the one who goes about wrecking everything it touches in its path. Luckily today, we are reminded of our miracle mindedness, recognizing that what we thought were mistakes were just awakenings to the power within to choose for joy. The pain we believe we have inflicted or has been inflicted on us, is merely an alarm to alert us to remember our divinity.
We turn our conversation to pain in Lesson 190. This can be pain in the body or pain in the mind. Another way of describing pain is also suffering. Pain, or suffering, is the alarm given to our vessel to let us know that we have forgotten Who and What we are. Rather than using this as our device for awakening we have become numb to the pain in our lives and created a sense of fear around it, thus believing in the idea of mistakes and wrongdoing.
“Pain is but witness to the Son’s mistakes in what he thinks he is” (ACIM Lesson 190 2:2).
Pain is just a thought. Yes, it may feel real but if you slow down your thinking for a moment you will realize that it is another word we learned to describe a sense of uncomfortableness in the mind or the body. It is just a word we have associated with a feeling. Mostly, we assume it happens when we have done something wrong. In the scenario, “I fell off the ladder and had to go to the hospital,” you believe it is because you fell off the ladder that something bad happened. But what if you just fell off the ladder and the means of going to hospital was just a reminder that you are more than just a body?
Or think of the idea that needles cause pain. Why then do some people feel pain when they get shots and others do not? Thus, the idea of pain cannot be universal but only a choice made by each individual person based on his or her experience.
The biggest argument for pain is usually in the case for someone who is going through a terminal illness. Yes, this indeed this has the potential to be painful on many levels. There is no doubt this scenario is a trying one, yet it holds in it learning potential for many. However, and I’m sure you can attest, there are an array of options in how one can deal with such an event. One can experience this illness in a loving manner using it as a teacher, even though it may be tough, or one can experience this in a very human manner, attaching to all levels of pain and suffering.
The examples listed have been more dramatic ones where pain is clearly evident, however, let us not forget about the lull of pain we go through on a daily basis, usually caused by a mere thought of the past or the future. If we connect to the Love that we are, in this moment, it is impossible to suffer. You may know there is pain around you but you will handle it very differently. Today, we come to explore our pain and suffering. We awaken to the signal it sends us, stopping to ask ourselves:
Am I trusting God?
Am I trusting in my Light and guaranteed safety and goodness?
Often we are in pain because we believe we are in control: in control of a situation, an outcome, or this body. We believe we are capable of making mistakes and having to pay the price. Once more, it is asked of us, “Do we still believe in a vengeful God?”
“Pain is a sign illusions reign in place of truth. It demonstrates God is denied, confused with fear, perceived as mad, and seen as traitor to Himself. If God is real, there is no pain. If pain is real, there is no God. For vengeance is not part of love” (ACIM Lesson 190 3:1-5).
We let this human experience of pain dissuade us from our natural state. We let it scare us into thinking that insanity is sanity. We let it scare us from looking directly at it, in order to realize it is not real. The ego wants to believe in pain. It does not want us to investigate its tool, as it needs it to lure us into submission. But aren’t you tired of being scared of life? Of pain? Of making mistakes? Of yourself?
“It is your thoughts alone that cause you pain. Nothing external to your mind can hurt or injure you in any way. There is not cause beyond yourself that can reach down and bring oppression. No one but yourself affects you” (ACIM Lesson 190 5:1-4).
If you take a moment to get cozy with pain, you will find the following:
- You can somehow trace pain back to a thought. You were thinking about XY and Z, which triggered you into feeling pain.
- Once you recognize the thought, you will come to understand that it is just a thought. Nothing is literally causing you pain at that moment of realization but a thought. No one is sitting there beating you up. If they were, you would not be investigating pain but rather protecting yourself and getting out of the situation, no? Thus, do you see how it is your thinking that is causing you discomfort?
- Once you notice that it is thought that leads to pain, you will come to realize that it is a thought of the past or the future. It is a thought formed from a past event or a future projection based on a past occurrence.
It is the trinity of pain: alarm of pain, caused by a thought, reflected on by a past or future event. Do you see how none of it takes place in the now? It is actually the gift of pain and suffering that alerts us to the present moment, however we have misused it to connect to the past and future rather than NOW. This is what changes today as befriend pain, as it is what leads us to our salvation.
“This is the day when it is given you to realize the lesson that contains all of salvation’s power. It is this: Pain is illusion; joy, reality. Pain is but sleep; joy is awakening. Pain is deception; joy alone is truth” (ACIM Lesson 190 10:3-6).
In pain we find our power of choice. We find that we can choose the Love of ourselves and the Love of God. We recognize that we do not wait for the world to stop hurting us; we have the power to stop hurting ourselves. And if someone is indeed harming you, make that choice to get out.
“But it is you who have the power to dominate all things you see by merely recognizing what you are. As you perceive the harmlessness in them, they will accept your holy will as theirs. And what was seen as fearful now becomes a source of innocence and holiness” (ACIM Lesson 190 5:6-8).
It is You, Holy One, who holds all the power. If only for a moment, you can rest in the Light that you are. I am sure we can all attest to how tough this can be at times and how overpowering some thoughts may appear to be, however it is assured that if we only slow down, come to stillness, we will be shown our True Nature, that which is free of suffering and ever joyful.
Again, what is needed most is your willingness. I am not going to lie to you, sometimes what is needed is the patience to sit in pain to know it is not real. Sometimes for a night, or more, or for days, or for however long it takes to see the Light that emerges. Sometimes we have to be bold enough to sit with our suffering and care for it like an innocent child, and see what it is really crying out for and what it is really scared of. Of course, know you never have to do this alone.
In the end, you’ll come to find that pain isn’t so bad. It was just a means to alert you back to the fact that you are the Light of the World. It is a teacher in that way. It is like learning that, although fire can burn, if you lick your finger tips and then place them on the wick of a small candle, the fire will not burn you but rather just go out. So will your pain, when you just lick your awareness with the divine holy water of your being.
Thus, in moments when it seems far-reaching, just come to this one moment. What does it mean to courageously choose joy over pain in this moment? Then this moment? And this moment? Take it breath-by-breath, not outcome-by-outcome. Choosing joy in the bigger moments in our lives starts by choosing joy at the most mundane, foundational moments. Choosing joy just once can be the change that changes everything.
Joy is your birthright. It is your natural state. You deserve it. You are worthy of it. It is What You Are. Choose it today, for yourself, because you love yourself that much. Because you have come to know that pain is just an idea and you desire more than idea, you desire Reality. I Am Joyously Yours! Namaste.