1 – Forgiveness
Many of us who are long-time students of A Course in Miracles carry around a very earthbound idea about forgiveness. We forgive, maybe for years, our significant others, and then we think that they are not changing enough to suit us. We think that we have been setting a good example, and still they show anger and attack us verbally when we don’t perceive a good cause. Then we are stuck, because we think that we have forgiven them for anything and everything, but this lack of what is perceived to be little meaningful change for the better draws us up, and we begin to blame them. This is the “forgiveness to destroy” that the pamphlet on psychotherapy channeled by Helen makes so clear. And all of us have a little of the tendency to “forgive to destroy.”
2 – The Answer
What can we do? How can we see differently? Note the following:
“Salvation does not lie in being asked to make unnatural responses which are inappropriate to what is real. . .[Y]ou are merely asked to see forgiveness as the natural reaction to distress that rests on error, and thus calls for help. Forgiveness is the only sane response. (T-30.VI.2)”
If we can see that someone else’s progress or lack of it is not our concern, that it is only up to us to live with them peaceably, then we can say, over and over if need be, “distress that rests on error.” Most of us live with individuals who are not ACIM students. Very few of our significant others are. And we get weary of forgiving, don’t we? We think that others ought to think as we do.
3 – Anger and Attack
But have we actually made as much progress as we think? How many times do we “lose it,” falling into attack and anger when things do not go our way? The brother, the significant other, may not have our frame of reference, and yet we see in him or her the tendency to forgive us for these lapses. We see this because we are not where we are in life by accident. We are placed with the ones who can be the best mirrors for ourselves.
4 – Responses
But we do not have to make unnatural responses. We are living an illusion, and as such the anger and attack do not really matter. They are transient. Of course, anger and attack do matter on some level for the one who is so emoting; karma takes its toll (not an ACIM tenet). But we can see that we are living a dream, and that it is our dream; we are not figures in somebody else’s dream (ACIM tenets). So regardless of how hateful or vicious someone might be, we can still realize that there is a reason that we are seeing this. We do not have to remain with this person if the drama is too negative for us. We can ask, “Am I better with or without this person?,” and let our answer dictate what we do. And we can know that regardless of how alone we might feel in this world, we do have guidance about what to say and do.
5 – The World’s Forgiveness
“Unjustified forgiveness is attack. And this is all the world can ever give. It pardons ‘sinners’ sometimes, but remains aware that they have sinned. And so they do not merit the forgiveness that it gives. (T-30.VI.3)”
This four-sentence explanation is “forgiveness to destroy” in a capsule form. We think, in our lowest moments, that others do not deserve the forgiveness that ACIM seems bound to make us offer, if we are to live our salvation.
6 – Healing
“Look on your brother with this hope in you, and you will understand he could not make an error that could change the truth in him. It is not difficult to overlook mistakes that have been given no effects. But what you see as having power to make an idol of the Son of God you will not pardon. For he has become to you a graven image and a sign of death. Is this your savior? Is his Father wrong about His Son? Or have you been deceived in him who has been given you to heal, for your salvation and deliverance? (T-30.VI.10)”
Our brother has been given us to love and to heal. Our most significant other is a gift. While not all of us will live a lifetime with one person, there are many who do. And forgiveness makes that road much easier. He/she is the one who has been given us to heal, and we are well-advised to take this command as a command.
I wish to be very certain today that I don’t “forgive to destroy.” Help me to know in the depth of my being that all is well. That the one given me to love is the one given me to heal. That one also must forgive me, even if lacking the understanding that ACIM gives. I realize that this may make forgiveness harder.
Help me to live a good life, a relaxed life in Your presence. I take life too seriously sometimes, and I would be done with that attitude.
Help me to come to You for rest and renewal, when the burdens of life seem too great. And may I never forget to thank You for my brothers and sisters, who challenge me even as they love me.