Hi Friends! Happy second day of Lent! 🙂
Lent has never called to me before as an ACIM student, but yesterday, it did. I woke up and thought,
“It’s Lent! I will hold no grievances for these 40 days.”
Whenever I’ve practiced Lent before, I’ve failed. I’d give up chocolate and be sneaking Hershey Kisses the next day. It was hard for me to give stuff up because it feels like SUCH a sacrifice!
Before becoming an ACIM student, I always thought of sacrifice as noble, good, and pure. It was hard, but it made you look really good. This is because I was raised in a Christian society that believes Jesus sacrificed his life for our sins so we sinners could go to heaven. Lent is a small way we remind ourselves of Jesus’s sacrifice.
A Course in Miracles has a whole different view on sacrifice (and on the crucifixion), which I talk about in this video. Jesus tells us in ACIM that
“The gifts you offer to the ego are always experienced as sacrifices, but the gifts you offer to the Kingdom are gifts to you,” T-7.VII.11
“The Holy Spirit never asks for sacrifice, but the ego always does.” T-7.X.5
This means that when we “give something up” with the Holy Spirit, we’re not really sacrificing anything. We’re giving it as a gift to God; we’re letting it go (forgiving it) so that it no longer separates us from our Source. In remembering we’re One with God, we get lots of cool stuff: peace, understanding, power, joy. We get to live in this world, but not be of the world. Really, when we give something up with Holy Spirit, we’re gaining everything!!
And yet, my first thought after deciding to give up grievances for Lent was: crap. I am never going to be able to do this.
Why? Because grievances feel so good to my ego!
Lesson 68, Love holds no grievances, says that to hold a grievance is to
- Forget who I am
- See myself as a body
- Let the ego rule my mind and condemn the body to death
Holding a grievance is STAYING IN MY STORY. The story of Carly, the small self, a body in this world. Her story has drama, intrigue, mystery. I don’t know what’s going to happen to her! It appears that she has so many choices, so many things to do. It appears that there is an answer she’s looking for, out there, waiting for her to find it, and there’s obstacles she must overcome to reach it. The big bad world and the people in it want to keep that answer, her happiness, from her and she’s got to fight to get it!
Grievances glue me to my story because they are evidence of people and the world out there. They glue me to my perception that I am a body, that I need to listen to the guidance of the ego, and that this body will die. Grievances make me forget that I am not Carly, but the all-powerful Child of God. They make me believe that I am separate from God. This means that I feel guilty and afraid.
Giving up grievances (forgiveness) helps me remember that I am still as God created me. It brings me back to peace.
This, to the ego, IS sacrifice! And no matter how good my intentions are as the perfect little Course student, if I try to relinquish my grievances with the ego as my teacher, I will feel like I’m sacrificing. I will see it as giving up a part of me, because I’m identifying with Carly the small self.
Part of my journey (and all of our journeys) as a Course student is to give up my self concept. To recognize that identifying as Carly the small special self, Carly the ego, is painful. This is so scary because this is all I know!
Yet, when I hold grievances, when I live in the world with my ego as my guide, it IS painful. I feel small, weak, alone, and afraid. I am living in a cage of my judgments, and I see everything as my enemy.
The journey is releasing my grievances to turn towards God again. It is a moment by moment process, and Jesus assures us it will be gentle. “Fear not that you will be abruptly lifted up and hurled into reality. Time is kind, and if you use it on behalf of reality, it will keep gentle pace with you in your transition.” T-16.VI.8
I have to give up my grievances with the Holy Spirit as my teacher.
This is how I give a gift to the Kingdom, which is giving a gift to MYSELF!
I love gifts!!
So, no matter WHAT you’re giving up for Lent, if you’re doing it with the Holy Spirit, Lent is transformed from a time of sacrifice and giving up to a time to, in the words of Parks and Recreations, TREAT YO’ SELF!
P.S. Giving up grievances–giving gifts to God–to receive gifts doesn’t just happen during Lent. When you’re an ACIM student, you can do it ALL THE TIME! As long as Spirit is your guide, you will TREAT YO’ SELF!