Lesson 197 2021

Lesson 197 

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 ⁴Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn.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. 

I was checking out at the store the other day and was being mindful to interact 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 and one she had not made.  

⁴Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn.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. 

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 our strength and 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) 

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 and so when I forgive, the world is released along with me. 

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. 

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. When we recognize this oneness, we will not see others as apart from us and our competitors. We will not see God as apart from us and 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. 

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. 

That brief moment at the store when I looked at the clerk and smiled and thanked her and she just shifted her attention to the next person and I took back my gift seemed so minor as to be ignored. I am glad, though, that I have learned there is no hierarchy in illusions and 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. 

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. 

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. 

(ACIM, W-197.1:1–9:8

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 and with love and gratitude. And when I fail to do this, I forgive. 

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