VI. Fear and Conflict, P 7
7 The first corrective step in undoing the error is to know first that the conflict is an expression of fear. Say to yourself that you must somehow have chosen not to love, or the fear could not have arisen. Then the whole process of correction becomes nothing more than a series of pragmatic steps in the larger process of accepting the Atonement as the remedy. These steps may be summarized in this way:
Know first that this is fear.
Fear arises from lack of love.
The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love.
Perfect love is the Atonement.
In the past when I read this paragraph I recognized that it must be very important, but I just didn’t see why. It didn’t have any great meaning for me or catch my imagination as many of the passages do. I didn’t get that “aha” moment when I read it. It was just words. I didn’t worry about it too much because there is so much in the Course that was helpful that I could just move on to something else.
But now that I am doing this work with the Text, I was faced with the task of writing about this paragraph and was flummoxed. Once again, I read it and couldn’t think of anything to say about it. So I asked the Holy Spirit to help me. I asked Him to show me the meaning that is intended and to give me words to share.
What happened next is that I felt overwhelming love and gratitude toward Jesus. I started thanking him for his words and everything he has done for us and telling him how much I love him. There were so much love and gratitude in my heart that I cried. And when I read this paragraph again I felt it. My heart felt a deep longing to accept the Atonement.
That is what happened and how it felt. But I am still flummoxed, not because I don’t understand it or it lacks meaning for me, but because I don’t know how to say in some other way that it contains all meaning. It seems so perfect, just as it is. When I say to myself that, “I accept the Atonement for myself,” I cry again in gratitude and love.
How can I use this in my life today? Typically, there are many moments in the day when there is conflict in my mind. Many of them are so familiar that I hardly notice them. Some, I fail to see as conflict. Others, I push away. But I am learning that I want to notice these conflicted thoughts so that I can ask for healing so that I can accept the Atonement.
The first step in this process, once I have noticed the conflict, is to realize it is fear. I have so many names for fear, and I think the reason for all these other names is so that I don’t have to admit to myself how fearful I am. I’m reading a novel about a woman who has to face a lot of fear in her life. She has to face down fear of love, fear of relationships, fear that takes the form of killers and all sorts of monsters. When she feels afraid it makes her less effective and so instead she turns the fear into anger. This makes her feel more powerful.
Maybe this is one of the reasons we find other words for our fear. We call it anger and channel the fear into something that feels less debilitating. It gives us a feeling of control or at least makes us feel less vulnerable. Hatred is another word and emotion we use to express our fear differently. Instead of feeling afraid of being unloved, for example, we project (that is, throw out of us) the feeling onto someone or something else and say we hate it instead. We are just trying to cope with our fear.
It does not work. Manipulating fear in our minds to make it look like something else does not heal the fear. Fighting what we fear does not work. Hating what we fear does not work. Only love heals fear. This is what Jesus is telling me in this paragraph. He is encouraging me to stop trying to pretend that fear is something else. Then he wants me to withdraw my projections, bring them back into my self, and let them be healed.
If I feel any emotion that is not love it is fear. If I am fearful it is because somehow I did not love. Jesus is not asking me to figure out how this happened, or what I did or said or felt that was not love. He does not seem to care about the form the error has taken. He is not asking that I know how to feel love instead of the conflict. He is asking only that I recognize that I have failed to love and that I be willing to have this error corrected. He is not asking me to do, but to accept.
The only remedy for lack of love is perfect love, and Jesus does not ask me to understand perfect love, only to be willing to accept it. It is not possible to understand perfect love with the thinking mind, but I can be willing to accept it. Letting go of the need to understand is part of the acceptance. When I think that the truth needs my understanding, it is an expression of my need to assert my own separate will, and this in itself will create fear because it feels like I am opposing God.
All I need to know is that perfect love is the Atonement. Each time today that I notice I am in conflict, I will realize that this is fear and that fear occurs because I have somehow failed to love. This is just an error, and it is an error I no longer believe I need. If fear is lack of love, then the solution is perfect love (which is the Atonement). I accept the Atonement for myself.
Thank you, God, that your solution is not as convoluted as my errors. ~smile~