God is the Love in which I forgive.
W-pI.46.1. God does not forgive because He has never condemned. 2 And there must be condemnation before forgiveness is necessary. 3 Forgiveness is the great need of this world, but that is because it is a world of illusions. 4 Those who forgive are thus releasing themselves from illusions, while those who withhold forgiveness are binding themselves to them. 5 As you condemn only yourself, so do you forgive only yourself.
Ah, how wonderful it is to know that God has never condemned us and thus does not forgive. We are not asking God for forgiveness, we are forgiving ourselves. We are not even forgiving others, but only our thoughts about them. Ultimately, we are forgiving the beliefs that led to the separation stories and the beliefs that support it and maintain the stories.
Here is how this has worked for me. I held a grievance against my ex-husband while we were married. I felt like all my problems would be solved if he would just straighten up and fly right. And I mean, literally, all my problems. In retrospect that was a strange thing to believe, but I was pretty sure I was right at the time. I did work with Holy Spirit while we were together because I knew something was wrong with my thinking, but it wasn’t until the divorce that I accepted responsibility for healing this relationship. And that was when real change occurred.
I finally understood that my problem was my thoughts about the relationship and so the only solution was to change my thoughts. There was no way I could do this on my own, but fortunately, I am never on my own. In my confusion, I had thought that leaving the problem (my ex) would fix everything and I would be happy. But the relationship was in my mind and my mind came with me so I had to do the work anyway. I began to look at each untrue thought with the Holy Spirit so that each one could be forgiven and healed.
I soon realized that all the thoughts that were not love were untrue. This relationship was completely forgiven and thus completely healed. I had no desire to return to the marriage. Marriage was just the form of the relationship. The content, the love and a sense of oneness, was preserved. We are friends now. He has remarried, and in fact, I went to the wedding. I forgave the thoughts I had about the relationship and they were undone. In effect, I accepted the atonement for them. So, forgiveness, undoing, atonement, healing are words that can be used interchangeably.
W-pI.46.2. Yet although God does not forgive, His Love is nevertheless the basis of forgiveness. 2 Fear condemns and love forgives. 3 Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. 4 For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. 5 It is the means by which illusions disappear.
Oh, here is another word for forgiveness – salvation. Through forgiveness, we are saved from our past choices, as forgiveness undoes their effects. Even though God does not forgive, it is His Love that is the basis of forgiveness. When I was doing the forgiveness practiced on the relationship with my ex, I reached a level of forgiveness where it all felt very neutral.
I was not angry or fearful and I was able to work with him without discomfort. (We worked for the same company.) But forgiveness is not complete until there is love and that took a little longer but did occur. I began to feel love for him and to treat him as a beloved. This all happened about 20 years ago and we are still friends. We don’t see each other much since I retired, but we keep up with each other and share the important things in our life. When my son was going through a difficult period, together we went through it with him.
2 Fear condemns and love forgives. 3 Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. I realize now that the reason I condemned my husband was that I was afraid. I grew up with an alcoholic father and it turned out that my ex was an alcoholic as well. When that became apparent to me, fear drove all my thoughts about him. He became the target for all my anxiety and in my mind, leaving him became the solution to my anxiety.
But it was forgiveness of the situation and of my fear thoughts that was the real solution. Love of God kept me working on the solution before I was ready to forgive it, and love undid the fear in my mind that helped me see clearly that the only correction needed was my own thoughts. It is hard to see what is really going on when there is so much fear. But love undoes fear and this is why I now choose to look on everything with love, appreciation, and an open mind.
W-pI.46.3. Today’s exercises require at least three full five-minute practice periods, and as many shorter ones as possible. 2 Begin the longer practice periods by repeating today’s idea to yourself, as usual. 3 Close your eyes as you do so, and spend a minute or two in searching your mind for those whom you have not forgiven. 4 It does not matter “how much” you have not forgiven them. 5 You have forgiven them entirely or not at all.
This sentence: 5 You have forgiven them entirely or not at all. I fully accept this but that was not always so. I used to think I forgive but not forget. That only meant that I had pretended to forgive. It was the way I felt better about myself but continued to cause suffering in my own mind through my unforgiveness. It was the way I kept up the fiction that the other one was the one who needed forgiveness rather than my own thinking.
Also, I do not now forgive for some transgression but not for others. If there is the belief in unforgiveness in my mind, I am not done, I still need to heal my mind. It might take a few times of looking with the Holy Spirit to finally realize I really do want to be free of the grievance that is holding me hostage to my suffering, but I will always get there. It is never about the other person. Never. It is about my thoughts regarding the other person and that is where forgiveness must be applied.
W-pI.46.4. If you are doing the exercises well you should have no difficulty in finding a number of people you have not forgiven. 2 It is a safe rule that anyone you do not like is a suitable subject. 3 Mention each one by name, and say:
4 God is the Love in which I forgive you, [name].
W-pI.46.5. The purpose of the first phase of today’s practice periods is to put you in a position to forgive yourself. 2 After you have applied the idea to all those who have come to mind, tell yourself:
3 God is the Love in which I forgive myself.
4 Then devote the remainder of the practice period to adding related ideas such as:
5 God is the Love with which I love myself.
6 God is the Love in which I am blessed.
We see the idea that we are always forgiving thoughts in our mind is being emphasized here. He says to look for the people you have not forgiven to use as examples, but then he says to forgive yourself. Thinking of forgiveness as undoing, in forgiving, I am undoing the belief that anyone is guilty. I am innocent and so is everyone else. I don’t need to attack the one I see as guilty in order to defend myself; I only need to forgive the belief that I need defense, and that anyone is guilty.
W-pI.46.6. The form of the application may vary considerably, but the central idea should not be lost sight of. 2 You might say, for example:
3 I cannot be guilty because I am a Son of God.
4 I have already been forgiven.
5 No fear is possible in a mind beloved of God.
6 There is no need to attack because love has forgiven me.
7 The practice period should end, however, with a repetition of today’s idea as originally stated.
W-pI.46.7. The shorter practice periods may consist either of a repetition of the idea for today in the original or in a related form, as you prefer. 2 Be sure, however, to make more specific applications if they are needed. 3 They will be needed at any time during the day when you become aware of any kind of negative reaction to anyone, present or not. 4 In that event, tell him silently:
5 God is the Love in which I forgive you.
Jesus ends this Lesson by asking us to notice the times during the day when we need to forgive. This requires great vigilance and determination but becomes easy with practice. He says to use the form God is the Love in which I forgive you. But really, we are always forgiving the thoughts in our mind about the other so in forgiving him, we are forgiving the belief in his guilt and in ours.