VI. Time and Eternity, P 2
2 Guilt feelings are the preservers of time. They induce fears of retaliation or abandonment, and thus ensure that the future will be like the past. This is the ego’s continuity. It gives the ego a false sense of security by believing that you cannot escape from it. But you can and must. God offers you the continuity of eternity in exchange. When you choose to make this exchange, you will simultaneously exchange guilt for joy, viciousness for love, and pain for peace. My role is only to unchain your will and set it free. Your ego cannot accept this freedom, and will oppose it at every possible moment and in every possible way. And as its maker, you recognize what it can do because you gave it the power to do it.
I used to feel very guilty for not being a good mother. My children assured me I was a good mother, but I knew better. I knew of every awful mistake I made. I knew that I often put my own desires before the needs of my children. I could not hide from my own inadequacies. Because I was so filled with guilt, I expected my children to abandon me, perhaps literally, and certainly to abandon loving me.
Because I fully expected this, frequently I interpreted their actions and words to prove that this was happening. They would make a remark about something I said and I would think it meant they didn’t love me, or they didn’t respect me because they knew my secret shame. If they failed to visit, it must because they were glad to be free of me, and if they did visit, it was because they felt guilty for not visiting.
Eventually, I would start to resent this perceived unloving behavior and I would feel angry about it and at them. I would reason that they were unfair and judgmental and harsh. I would reason that I made mistakes but that I did so much for them, and tried really hard to make up for my errors. I would make them guilty for how I felt. Then I would feel guilty for doing this. And so the cycle continued.
The ego loves this kind of reasoning, this harsh self-judgment, and this defensiveness. It loves the cycle that seems unbreakable because it guarantees the continuation of ego. But the ego is mistaken. The cycle can be broken. As my mind began to heal, I started looking at these special relationships and I saw how sick they were. I asked for healing and slowly over time, I accepted that healing. The Holy Spirit simply removed those mistaken and disordered thoughts from my mind because I asked Him to, and wanted to be free more than I wanted to be guilty.
It was hard for me while the exchange was going on because the ego opposed it at every turn. The ego kept showing me my errors and insisting I take responsibility for them, which in ego language means that I must remain guilty for them forever. Holy Spirit showed me another way to be responsible. He showed me that I was responsible for recognizing they were not truth and I was responsible for allowing Him to undo them.
The last sentence in this paragraph is very important. It says, “And as its maker, you recognize what it can do because you gave it the power to do it.” The only reason the ego could torture me with the past is because I gave it the power to do so. I am learning that all stories of guilt and shame are in place as long as I want them and only that long. At any time I can notice the story and decide I don’t need it anymore.
I don’t need the story of being a bad mom. It has disappeared from my mind. Now their remarks are just remarks. They call when they want to, and they don’t call when they don’t want to, and it doesn’t mean anything either way. I gave the ego its power to torture me with the past and insure the future would be the same. I changed my mind, so now the ego doesn’t have that power.
The ego insists that without my stories there will be nothing left of me, that the very fabric of my being will come undone and the world will dissolve all around me and me with it. I suspect that it is right about the world I see, and right about the little ego me, but I will remain, because I am not the ego or its stories. I simply am. I have all power over the ego because I made it and so can unmake it, but I did not create myself and so I cannot affect that self.