ACIM Daily Lesson 197. It can be but my gratitude I earn.
It can be but my gratitude I earn.
1. Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. ²You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. ³Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. ⁴Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. ⁵And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.
The first step is to understand and accept that what we do to another, we do to ourselves. This is our second step in freeing our mind from the belief we are attacked by forces outside ourselves. I am absolutely sure that it is never someone or something else attacking me. It is always my thoughts alone that hurt me. Of course, that doesn’t stop the ego mind from searching for the guilty party. It does mean, however, that I reject that idea out of hand.
Here is a simple example of today’s idea. I was checking out at the store the other day and was being mindful of interacting with the clerk in a meaningful way, but she wasn’t having any of it. My first thought was one of judgment, a feeling, really. Right away, I noticed what I had done. I had meant to connect, but when my gift was ignored, I reacted as if she had reneged on a bargain. Never mind that it was one she had not made. Awareness of my error corrected it immediately.
⁴Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. Through this kind of thinking, we reinforce the belief that this is the way God operates, too. He will give only to take it back, or worse yet, he will give so we relax our defenses, and then He strikes us dead. At funerals, I have heard many people say that God took the loved one home. This has always felt wrong to me, and now I know why. It is an example of what Jesus is telling us in this lesson. God gives, and so God takes, thus He cannot be trusted.
God and Guilty
2. How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. ²Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. ³See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. ⁴Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully recognized.
It is our thinking that causes us to confuse our beliefs about God. Our thoughts are very powerful and always produce form at some level. In our minds, we give God the form of a vengeful Being because there is the idea of vengeance in our minds. We assign Him the roles that we would play under such circumstances. Because we believe in what we have done, it is true for us though it is not true in reality.
Within our minds, there is the truth, but we have become afraid of our power and strength, so it feels like our salvation is to become weak. Our job is to undo this in our mind through forgiveness, to undo these beliefs, and to claim our strength. What I did when I noticed my error with the clerk was to forgive it, and the idea vanished from my mind. ³I will forgive, and this will disappear. (ACIM, W-193.13:3)
Offer the World Release from Illusions
3. The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. ²Yet your thanks belong to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. ³Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. ⁴Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts, because they were not honored? ⁵It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.
The world exists nowhere except in my mind, so when I forgive, the world is released along with me. How is it that we should use gratitude? How about if we are grateful for our brothers, grateful to shower them with the gifts of love and acceptance, grateful for the chance to honor them? This is a gift truly given and thus received.
Our Gifts Are Received by Him
4. It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. ²In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. ³It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. ⁴They are received where they are given. ⁵In your gratitude are they accepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. ⁶And would you take them back, when He has gratefully accepted them?
When the clerk chose to ignore my gift, it was the ego that ignored it. Within her mind is the truth and the truth, the Christ within the mind, thanked me for it. Thus are all our gifts accepted and so bless us as well. This acceptance is universal. The mind we all share is blessed when we bless anyone with our gratitude. There is more light in the mind. I love sentence 5, which tells us that they are acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. I am so glad I caught myself before I had taken my gift back.
God Blesses Your Gifts
5. God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. ²And what belongs to God must be His Own. ³Yet 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.
We always give only to ourselves even if it seems in the world that we are giving to an other. Our minds are joined, and we are one with each other and with God. We will not see others as apart from us and our competitors when we recognize this oneness. We will not see God as apart from us and as our enemy.
Accepting oneness, we don’t pay attention to what the body in front of us does or says. We will know that the mind that is Christ is greeting the mind that is Christ. To receive the gifts of God, we must stop forgiving only to attack again. Is this effort worth it? Jesus says God’s gifts are eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love and adding to your never-ending joy. So what do you think?
How this Works
6. Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. ²But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while, before He snatches them away again in death. ³For death will have no meaning for you then.
Thinking back on the incident at the store when I looked at the clerk and smiled and thanked her. And then she just shifted her attention to the next person, and I took back my gift in my resentment at being rejected. That brief moment seemed so minor as to be ignored. I am glad that I have learned there is no hierarchy in illusions, so each one is equal in its power to destroy. I am grateful that I forgave so that the thought of resentment was undone.
When I don’t notice this kind of thing in the moment, the memory of it is in my mind and I can forgive when it pops up. As I was writing this, memories previously unnoticed that were similar to this one came into my mind, and I happily forgave them. It is a gift to the world and to me because they are one and the same. There is one in particular that Jesus wants me to forgive, and as I did so, I felt so much love for this person that I cried.
Fear Forever Over
7. And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. ²Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks for you unto Himself. ³To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. ⁴His Being in His Father is secure, because Their Will is One. ⁵Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.
8. Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. ²For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. ³And you are still as God created you. ⁴Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. ⁵In your heart the Heart of God is laid. ⁶He holds you dear, because you are Himself. ⁷All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.
I am grateful to my decision maker for the decision to forgive, and I am grateful to the Self Who knows and never forgets. I am grateful to God for my creation, and that creation is safe from my dreams of separation. How could I not be grateful when He holds me dear, because I am Himself. Give, give, and give some more and never look back.
You do this for yourself, for your brother and for God. As I give, I make myself complete. In giving, I live as my Self. What more could I ask for? This reminds me of something Regina suggested. She said to live as if you are enlightened. So, if I feel my gift is not received or even if it seems to be outright rejected, I will ask myself how I would respond if I were enlightened, and then I will do that.
And let us not overlook these sentences. ⁵In your heart the Heart of God is laid. ⁶He holds you dear, because you are Himself. Do you see how impossible it is for any of us to be the ego, even if we decide to identify with that? Could the Heart of God be in the ego? And then the next sentence tells me that God holds me dear because I am Himself. Do take that in. I am Himself. Oh, my. How many times a day do I deny God and deny my Self out of sheer arrogance and ignorance? And when I deny my brother, I do this again.
Be You Free
9. Give thanks as you receive it. ²Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. ³And from this Self is no one left outside. ⁴Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. ⁵All that you do is given unto Him. ⁶All that you think can only be His Thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. ⁷Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. ⁸But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.
The countless channels are all the seemingly separate individuals in the world who are really just part of the Whole. In the past, I did think of them as separate and having nothing to do with me unless our paths crossed. And even then, I did not think that I owed most of them gratitude, and sometimes I thought I owed them my judgment and resentment.
But now I know that these bodies and their stories are not real, and what is real about them is what is real about me. It is like I am in love with myself, and I greet each part of my Self with recognition, love, and gratitude. And when I fail to do this, I forgive.
One time, I had something happen that parallels this lesson perfectly. I paid a compliment to a co-worker, and that co-worker seemed to reject the compliment, and to me, that seemed to mean that he rejected me. I say “seem” because I am fully aware that the rejection was in my own mind regardless of what he meant, and he may have meant nothing by it.
The Sting of Rejection
I, nevertheless, felt the sting of rejection. For a while then, the ego-mind kept bringing out the memory of the exchange, looking at it from every angle to glean some deeper meaning from the few words that were said. Then one morning, I sat with it and saw the depth of my upset. Not only was I upset about that exchange, but the ego-mind was really going into defensive mode, wanting to close ranks, fortify the walls, avoid him and everyone else, and not say anything lest the wrong thing is said. Protecting the image, not appearing as a fool, seemed way more important than continuing to be love.
Watching the mind as all this passed through it, I could see what Jesus means in this Lesson. I went from wondering what that guy meant by the one sentence he said in response to my one sentence, to wanting to defend myself from everyone. I was questioning everything I said to everyone that week. Could it be a stretch to say that if the gift of love I have learned from the Course (from God) to give were so rejected, then that means I cannot trust God or His Love either?
By the next morning, I was fully engaged in building walls against everyone and feeling besieged by all sorts of people in my life and memories of past insults. It was all, past and present and future alike, coming up for me to look at with the Holy Spirit. It feels really uncomfortable, like cleaning something disgustingly dirty. You hate getting your hands in the yuck, but you know the reward will be worth it.
As often happens when I reject the ego view of things, the ego brings out the big guns, trying to keep me engaged in its drama, but if that doesn’t work, it offers suggestions for letting it all go. That’s funny because the ego is not going to undo the ego. I had a moment of trying to be “forgiving” and of trying not to feel like I felt. Then I looked over at my remember board, and I found Nouk’s prayer of Atonement.
“Holy Spirit, please help me to forgive myself for using (this situation with my co-worker) to attack myself and to separate from your Love as my Holy Self.
Releasing the Ego Interpretation
Releasing the ego interpretation of the event to the Holy Spirit is the solution and the only solution that works. I was cleansed of the sense of rejection, the fear and guilt, and the need to defend. It was just all gone.
“Thank you, God. I love you, God. And I am learning to trust Your Love.”
Right-reasoning is one example of an illusion that points toward truth. Forgiveness is another. A third illusion that points toward truth is an extension of right-gratitude. It is gratitude for everything that reminds you of your spiritual purpose and gratitude for every opportunity to practice your spiritual purpose. When right-gratitude is extended in this way, you can be grateful for every circumstance that arises, and that gratitude strengthens your spiritual resolve.
Let me provide an example. Let’s imagine that I hired a contractor to build a sunroom as an addition to my house. He required that I pay him 50% up front, and I did. He framed the sunroom and started the roofing work, but then he and his crew quit coming. I called him, but he didn’t return my calls.
An Opportunity to Heal
This may feel like a very big situation to me. All kinds of thoughts may be swirling in my mind. I may feel anger and fear, and I might feel both stupid and like a victim at the same time. But then I pause. I remember what I truly want—freedom, awakening. I realize this situation is providing me with an opportunity to heal my mind, so I shift into gratitude. I let myself feel grateful for the gift of this situation, which is helping me to achieve my goal. After feeling genuine gratitude for this opportunity, I move into self-inquiry, I open up and rest with my feelings, or I engage in another spiritual practice that feels right for me in the moment.
Right-gratitude has strengthened my spiritual resolve and turned an opportunity to attack into an opportunity to heal.
Today’s lesson says, “Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self.” And countless channels abound! If we are willing to use right-gratitude for every opportunity to heal our mind, healing is accelerated.
Today’s lesson also points out a mistake regarding gratitude. The mistake is expecting gratitude from others as you begin to transform through spiritual practice.
We may think that our friends, family , and co-workers should notice as we become softer, gentler and kinder. We may want to hear some expression of gratitude from them for the change in us. However, often people don’t notice that we have given up attack for peace. After all, peace is quieter and easier not to notice.
If we expect gratitude or praise from others for becoming more peaceful, and it isn’t forthcoming, this could lead us to slip back into attack.
You Don’t Need the Gratitude of Others
The lesson says, “Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. … It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. … Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while…”
You don’t need the gratitude of others. It’s the ego that seeks gratitude from others, and so it is the ego that is strengthened by external gratitude. You need your own gratitude—gratitude for awareness-life-presence, gratitude for everything that reminds you of your spiritual purpose, and gratitude for opportunities to practice and heal. It’s your gratitude that opens your heart, strengthens your spiritual resolve and moves you toward awakening.
To enjoy the Pathways of Light Insights on ACIM Lesson 197 click here.
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