Miracle #13 - I Could See Peace Instead Of This
The holidays are stressful for many people, because they have preconceived ideas of how everything should be joyous, and often their expectations do not match their reality.
I had the bright idea to go skiing this year and leave all that behind.
My husband and I took our 3 teenagers on a week-long ski trip to New England as their Christmas gift.
We didn't decorate for the holidays, buy and wrap gifts, or mail out cards. We didn't even put up a Christmas tree for the first time in 20 years!
It felt so freeing to break with convention and do what I really liked, instead of what I was "supposed to" do. We had lots of fun, and I thought I had outsmarted my ego. Silly me!
When we returned to our home in Virginia, my parents - who had been house and dog-sitting for us - were still at the house, and stayed to visit through the New Year's weekend.
This is when my ego got it's revenge for being ignored.
It seemed my mom could not open her mouth without saying something judgmental.
The first thing she said to my daughter - even before hello - was that she seemed to have gained weight.
She complained about my parenting style.
She corrected my husband's driving.
She criticized her own husband's behavior.
She wanted to replace my dishes with "better" ones.
She told everyone what they should like and how they should feel. All with a cheerful "I am here to help and save you from yourselves" demeanor.
Naturally, I thought the problem was her.
I tried to explain that she could relax and enjoy life more if she just accepted things, instead of trying to change them. I told her that everything was happening just the way it was supposed to happen. She scoffed at my ideas!
My stepfather and I commiserated over how difficult she was to live with.
My husband and I complained to one another about her rudeness.
The kids and I all talked about how we had to suffer through her visit.
Everyone in the household was tense, so clearly she was the problem.
After my mom left, I was writing my thoughts in my ACIM journal and thinking about the phrase "If You Spot It, You Got It" (and if it Makes You Mad You Got it Bad!), which means that you cannot perceive a personality trait in another unless you possess that personality trait yourself.
I suddenly realized that this whole exercise in frustration with my mom was designed to point my attention toward my own judgmental attitude.
As my daughter would say: Wait, Whaaaaaaat??
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, said that we are unable to see the shadow aspect of our own personality, so we project those traits onto other people. This gives us a "mirror" in which to see our own issues. A Course in Miracles sums this concept up as "Projection Makes Perception".
The way to undo this ridiculous state of affairs is through forgiveness.
And forgiveness, according to ACIM, means to recognize that what I believed to be true never happened. My mom never criticized me, corrected me, or judged me. I only perceived that, and perception is not seeing what is really there.
When I remove the idea that something has occurred based on my perception, the Will of God can take its place.
The "problem" wasn't my mom. It was my inability to accept her.
It wasn't her criticism, but my judgment that she was not behaving the way a grandmother should.
It wasn't her rudeness, but my preconceived expectation that our visit should be different.
All of these concepts are "attack thoughts" and it is looking without judgment at our attack thoughts that undoes the ego.
The forgiveness process has 3 steps:
1 - Recognize that what we have attacked in another is what we have condemned in ourselves.
2 - Be open to see things differently by choosing God's will instead of our own.
3 - Allow the Holy Spirit to remove the guilt/sin/problem.
Here is a prayer from Chapter of 5 of the ACIM text to use in these kinds of situations:
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 let Him.
I choose to let Him, by allowing Him to decide for God for me.
Forgiveness gets easier and happens quicker the more you practice.
Earlier in my life I would "stay in the story" for months and years. Now, I can get out of the story pretty quickly, but I still need to work at remembering to move on from there and choose peace.
Once you experience the rewards of choosing peace over any other option, you will never want to return to your old way of doing things!
Thank you, Holy Spirit
... you are not trapped in the world you see, because its cause can be changed. This change requires, first, that the cause be identified and then let go, so that it can be replaced. The first two steps in this process require your cooperation. The final one does not.
Workbook, Lesson 23