It can be but my gratitude I earn.
Who are you when no one is watching? What do you become when life does not go your way? What do you do when acts of service go unnoticed? These are all questions that point us to areas where we may be wearing a “spiritual mask,” expecting something in return for our godly behavior.
While exploring the lessons of A Course in Miracles, or any other spiritual tool, it is common for one’s behavior to change. When one comes in contact with any form of truth, a transformation begins to happen: more good deeds done, living a more peaceful life style, making more wholesome and loving choices. Others may notice these changes, with some liking it and others not. It is always nice to hear compliments about the positive changes we are making in our lives, which can add to our motivation as we continue to explore this part of ourselves. There is no harm at all in receiving these accolades, however, where the caution comes in is when the kind words of another begins to fuel our journey, leaving us working only for the next compliment like the hit of a good drug.
The ego can be very tricky as we become more evolved. As we get sharper, so does the ego, as it still tries to maintain a stake in the game, ever so subtly, time to time, rearing its head. Today is a good example in how it does so. The spiritual ego is that watchful eye that looks around to see if someone recognizes all the good deeds she is doing. Do they see her level of commitment and service to God? The spiritual ego loves the compliments and loves to share pious teachings when things are going wonderful and others are looking her way. Yet when no one is watching or when things turn sour, she quickly gets hurt, irritated, and begins to pout, mostly thinking, “Why am I doing all these spiritual things if no one is watching and if the world is still a mess?” It is the spiritual ego that can go from acting “Godly” one minute to deeply feeling the futility of life in the next.
“Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. It is this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts” (ACIM Lesson 197 3:3-5).
Our journey is about freedom. It is not about creating more boxes for our “spiritual personality.” It is about the integration of our Divine Self in everything; when things appear good or bad and when people notice or not. The idea is to abide in a space where you are You all the time not matter what life throws at you. It is not carrying an extra spiritual superhero costume around with you. We want to get rid of our baggage, not add to it by justifying some new spiritual personality.
This is a good time to ask ourselves the question, “Do I feel free in spirituality or do I feel confined?” Sometimes throughout our journey we do not realize that we have gotten attached to certain rituals, teachers, or texts. We are just glad we are no longer suffering on worldly terms that we do not notice that we have turned that suffering into straining to live a more peaceful life, which is still a variation of suffering. Remember, God Will’s our happiness, not that we effort to Her. Thus, are we encouraged through Lesson 197 to come back to the purity of our thoughts and actions, remembering that it is our Light that we desire most and it is only our gratitude that we gain.
We only see our gifts by extending them. That is why we do it, so we can marvel at the Light that we are, created in the likeness of God. The by-products from extending our channel are secondary to our personal revelation. That is why it does not matter who is watching or who compliments our Divine Work. No one could notice or say a thing and it would not change our actions or thoughts because we are doing it for ourselves, as Ourselves. The desire for witnessing your Light through service must be greater than anyone’s acknowledgment of it. Do you think Mother Theresa cared about how many compliments or accolades she received? No, she was too busy shining her Light and extending her gifts. She was too busy allowing God to flow through her to be bothered with what someone was saying or who was looking.
“Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again” (ACIM Lesson 197 5:3).
Loving ourselves, our process, and getting engrossed in our own Lights helps us get out of our head. It helps us from saying, “Am I shining my Light now? What about now? Is anyone watching? Did someone see that, was that my Light just then?” We know of our greatness. We know what our invisible superhero costume feels like and care not who notices us at all. The important part is We notice ourselves and God notices us. It is through our humility that we extend gratitude to ourselves. What we do is watch our Godly Nature shine forth, knowing it pleases Her and the Her that abides in each of us. It is not for the world’s glory but for God’s.
“Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear, because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are” (ACIM Lesson 197 8:1-7).
Today, check in with your intentions. Notice how often you need the feedback of others and what you may do to try to get it. No longer play small to get noticed. Play it big and don’t care who sees or says a thing. Be You because you want to be, because you have to be. Be You because you are grateful to be You. Doesn’t it feel oh so good to be You?