This next post reflects one of the topics we will be offering in the Enhancing Your ACIM Practice series this summer. It starts this Thursday, July 6th. I hope you will join us for one or all of the eight topics to be presented:
- Why Study ACIM? Study vs. Application
- Setting Up a Daily Practice
- Staying Grounded in Truth
- Listening to the Holy Spirit’s Voice and not the Ego’s
- Giving and Receiving Love
- Being Normal
Today’s post is a student question I received recently and my answer to the student’s question.
Q. I’ve been studying ACIM for a few years and I do understand a lot of it on the intellectual level. My challenge is practicing it with everyday situations. For example, I was at the grocery store five minutes from my home and found it did not carry an item I needed. It is a pretty generic item and has been produced for decades by a major food manufacturer. I felt myself feeling irate inside because of it. I blamed the store owners (all in my mind) for not supplying what I needed, and the inconvenience of having to travel to the other grocery store of which I’m ashamed to say it’s only ten more minutes away from home. And, the kicker, it’s not the first time I’ve done this. What to do? I definitely don’t like how I feel when this occurs.
A. Let’s go with your last sentence. You realize you do not like how you feel when this occurs. That’s where we start. It doesn’t matter what the form of the disruption of peace takes, it is that we realize we do not appreciate how we feel in the moment. We could fix and change the form but until we heal our mind over the real issue it will just appear in another form.
There is much fear against love. You probably felt as a victim as you stood there staring at the shelf in the grocery store. You felt powerless that you could not get what you wanted, NOW! The ego demands IMMEDIATE satisfaction, right? At these times we feel threatened and angry. We want it thus! Sometimes, unfortunately, we act out.
That is what Jesus reminds us in the Course. We want it our way, hence the tiny mad idea that seemingly caused the separation. Our real issue is that we feel separated from God and believe He has done it to us. The truth is we made the decision to separate from Him. We see this in our everyday experiences as you experienced. We are irritated because we made the decision to separate and place the blame outside of ourselves (to God) instead of realizing we made the choice. In truth though we are one with Him. It is only the ego thought system that tells us otherwise.
In your situation, you admitted that you knew the store didn’t carry the item you needed yet you continue to drive to the nearby store in hopes that you will find what you need. We do this all too frequently as we keep looking for love outside of us, insisting where it must be found, instead of realizing at the center of our being is the heart of God’s Love. We think it an inconvenience to travel within to the place where Love resides. It seems too hard or too much a hassle to sit still for even a few minutes. Heck, even that “holy instant” that Jesus tells us about seems to be a time-waster as we demand immediate satisfaction.
What can you do now?
You can remember this every time you feel the upset and decide otherwise in your mind. Here in the world, you can save yourself the aggravation and travel to the other grocery store that carries your desired item. Yet, you must still do the work on the underlying belief which is the belief in separation. The answer is always joining with the truth. By avoiding the work, it will just appear in a different form at a different time. We think we have many problems here in the world so perhaps next time it will be a close relationship that brings your ire. It will keep repeating in various ways until we are ready to address our one problem, separation, from which all fear, guilt, and suffering arises to the one answer, the relinquishment of the desire for separation.
The key is using every situation as an opportunity to remember the truth. This world is our classroom and there will be situations that occur. It’s up to us to decide how we will experience them. Holy Spirit was placed in our mind the instant we took on the idea of separation. He is our bridge home. We can experience God’s love and peace any time we truly want to do so.
In Chapter 5, VII. The Decision for God, Jesus gives us a tool we can use:
Your part is merely to return your thinking to the point at which the error was made, and give it over to the Atonement in peace. Say this to yourself as sincerely as you can, remembering that the Holy Spirit will respond fully to your slightest invitation:
I must have decided wrongly, because I am not at peace.
I made the decision myself, but I can also decide otherwise.
I want to decide otherwise, because I want to be at peace.
I do not feel guilty, because the Holy Spirit will undo all the consequences of my wrong decision if I will let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.
In our last ACIM with MiraclesOne podcast of June 29th, 2017, Rev. Gayle, Mari and I talked about this very prayer. Listen to the podcast.