God’s peace and joy are mine.
1. God’s peace and joy are yours. ²Today we will accept them, knowing they belong to us. ³And we will try to understand these gifts increase as we receive them. ⁴They are not like to the gifts the world can give, in which the giver loses as he gives the gift; the taker is the richer by his loss. ⁵Such are not gifts, but bargains made with guilt. ⁶The truly given gift entails no loss. ⁷It is impossible that one can gain because another loses. ⁸This implies a limit and an insufficiency.
This: 1. God’s peace and joy are yours. ²Today we will accept them, knowing they belong to us. Why does Jesus keep telling us that peace and joy belong to us and so they are ours? This repetition is necessary because in this world peace and joy are intermittent at best. In this world where guilt is a law, we don’t believe we are worthy of consistent peace and joy. But we are under no laws but God’s, and so we must learn that we can have peace and joy simply because it is God’s Will that we do so. We do not have to earn this, only choose to accept it in place of the laws we made to take the place of God’s laws.
Another law of the world is that when we give, we lose what we have given. In the world, we can see how this is true. I give you my money and that money is gone. I give someone my loyalty in the hopes that I receive their loyalty in return, but who knows? So, in our minds, we have come to associate giving with loss and have become quite stingy in what and how much we give and to who.
2. No gift is given thus. ²Such “gifts” are but a bid for a more valuable return; a loan with interest to be paid in full; a temporary lending, meant to be a pledge of debt to be repaid with more than was received by him who took the gift. ³This strange distortion of what giving means pervades all levels of the world you see. ⁴It strips all meaning from the gifts you give, and leaves you nothing in the ones you take.
We attach all sorts of strings to our gifts since they represent loss, we want to be sure the loss is worth it. In our world, giving has become not really a gift but a bargain made with guilt. I remember before my kids were in school, I would buy the neighbor’s and relatives’ children birthday gifts and buy the candy their school had them sell.
I figured that later, I could depend on these parents to do the same for my kids when the time came. You see, not a gift of love, but an unspoken bargain. If they failed to live up to their end of the bargain, they were guilty. Even in the giving, I was accruing unconscious guilt because in my mind was the truth that judgment and attack were in play.
3. A major learning goal this course has set is to reverse your view of giving, so you can receive. ²For giving has become a source of fear, and so you would avoid the only means by which you can receive. ³Accept God’s peace and joy, and you will learn a different way of looking at a gift. ⁴God’s gifts will never lessen when they are given away. ⁵They but increase thereby.
In this lesson, our understanding of giving and receiving in the world is distorted to the point that giving is seen as loss and therefore avoided or at least curtailed. After my house was repaired on the inside, I started putting things back in order. While doing so, I went through the things that were misplaced and chose to give some of it away as I saw that much of the accumulation was of things I didn’t use. I decided to do this with the items in my closets as well.
I had quite a pile of things that were useful to someone but not to me. What I noticed was that even giving away stuff I no longer wanted, I was judging who was worthy of receiving it. What a treasure that realization was! I thanked the Holy Spirit for helping me see this in my mind and offered it to Him to correct. This lesson of learning to see giving and receiving differently is ongoing. I must learn to give so that I can receive because it is only in giving that I receive.
Another way I have been taught about giving and receiving is when I talk to others. If my mind wanders from the conversation I am not truly giving. If I make everything about me, it is not truly giving. Yes, sometimes I use my life as an example of another way to see things, but if I turn the conversation to me rather than gifting them with my attention, I am not truly giving and I will not receive. If I become frustrated or angry with the person rather than listening in love, I am not giving and therefore will fail to receive. If I spend time and give attention to another because I want them to respond to me in that way, I have not given; I have made a bargain.
4. As Heaven’s peace and joy intensify when you accept them as God’s gift to you, so does the joy of your Creator grow when you accept His joy and peace as yours. ²True giving is creation. ³It extends the limitless to the unlimited, eternity to timelessness, and love unto itself. ⁴It adds to all that is complete already, not in simple terms of adding more, for that implies that it was less before. ⁵It adds by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, securing it forever for itself.
God gives only peace and joy and never bargains. His gifts are truly given and when we accept them, they intensify within us and in God as well. God is under the same laws as are we. The only differences are that he made the law and He knows no exception to the law. God’s gifts are unending and never waver. No one is special in God and so all are given the gifts equally.
God does not give more because that implies there was less and in God, this is not true. What God created has All There Is. ⁵It adds by letting what cannot contain itself fulfill its aim of giving everything it has away, securing it forever for itself. This can be the way we give as well because what God creates is like Himself in every way. We learn this lesson, or maybe it is more accurate to say that we remember this truth as we practice the lessons in this Course.
5. Today accept God’s peace and joy as yours. ²Let Him complete Himself as He defines completion. ³You will understand that what completes Him must complete His Son as well. ⁴He cannot give through loss. ⁵No more can you. ⁶Receive His gift of joy and peace today, and He will thank you for your gift to Him.
All that we need to do to remember what it means to give as God gives, is to accept His gifts of peace and joy. By doing this we come to understand that one does not lose through giving. One only receives and the act of accepting the gift increases it for both giver and receiver. Think of this in terms of the things that truly matter in the world, love, peace, joy, kindness, sharing, being in union, and forgiveness.
Give these gifts as often as you can with no thought of their return, with no thought of what the other does with them or how they treat you. Give, give, and then give some more. What you give to another, you give to God. Know that these gifts will be multiplied many times over. Know that in the giving, they are multiplied within you as well.
6. Today our practice periods will start a little differently. ²Begin today by thinking of those brothers who have been denied by you the peace and joy that are their right under the equal laws of God. ³Here you denied them to yourself. ⁴And here you must return to claim them as your own.
7. Think of your “enemies” a little while, and tell each one, as he occurs to you:
²My brother, peace and joy I offer you, that I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.
³Thus you prepare yourself to recognize God’s gifts to you, and let your mind be free of all that would prevent success today. ⁴Now are you ready to accept the gift of peace and joy that God has given you. ⁵Now are you ready to experience the joy and peace you have denied yourself. ⁶Now you can say, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” for you have given what you would receive.
Interestingly enough, the first “enemy” is someone I love very much. My grievance is subtle in this one. When this person is suffering, I tend to feel like I suffer with him. There has been a very subtle feeling of resentment that he doesn’t straighten out his life so that I can stop suffering. I say it is subtle because I have to pay close attention to my feelings and my thoughts in order to catch it. Over time, I have released that belief over and over until now it is a flicker of a feeling. I want to be completely free of this kind of thinking and so I do watch closely. Today, I claim my freedom as I fully forgive this belief and I claim his freedom from my distorted beliefs in him.
My brother, peace and joy I offer you, that I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.
I feel my heart lighten and joy pulse through me as I make this sincere declation and so I can also say, in truth:
“God’s peace and joy are mine,” for I have given what I would receive.
8. You must succeed today, if you prepare your mind as we suggest. ²For you have let all bars to peace and joy be lifted up, and what is yours can come to you at last. ³So tell yourself, “God’s peace and joy are mine,” and close your eyes a while, and let His Voice assure you that the words you speak are true.
I see why Jesus tells us to spend this extra time receiving our gift. There was the automatic thought that I will have to practice this a lot with this person and probably a lot of different people because I will go right back to old thinking. As this thought passed through my mind, I could feel the joy receding. And maybe I will have to repeat it, but even if that is so, it will never again be the same. What is forgiven has been altered. Even if my mind goes back to it out of habit, it will not feel as real to me and my determination to be free will guarantee that I am given all I need to know my freedom. With this certainty replacing the ego thought of failure, joy returns. God’s gifts don’t demand anything of me. They are given freely and without limit.
9. Spend your five minutes thus with Him each time you can today, but do not think that less is worthless when you cannot give Him more. ²At least remember hourly to say the words which call to Him to give you what He wills to give, and wills you to receive. ³Determine not to interfere today with what He wills. ⁴And if a brother seems to tempt you to deny God’s gift to him, see it as but another chance to let yourself receive the gifts of God as yours. ⁵Then bless your brother thankfully, and say:
⁶My brother, peace and joy I offer you, that I may have God’s peace and joy as mine.
Seeing what others say and do to me as opportunities to heal rather than as attacks certainly changes everything. How could I be anything but grateful?