The Cost of Grievances

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

We don’t have to look very far to find worry and concern. We have a Congress that can’t seem to agree on anything. Wars rage across multiple fronts. A woman’s 50-year right to control her own body has been taken away by courts, with deadly ramifications. And how about you? What are you going through in your life that is causing you concern: health issues, family challenges, financial difficulties? There are plenty of reasons to fear, but fear does nothing to help. Fear always seems to be the natural knee-jerk reaction, but, as we are told in A Course in Miracles, fear only leaves us in a fog of illusions, and now is the time for clarity and truth. With that said, we are not to deny our fearful thoughts but to clearly look at what is causing us concern and invite the Holy Spirit into those thoughts so they can be transformed into a miraculous awareness. As we are told in the Course…

This world is full of miracles. They stand in shining silence next to every dream of pain and suffering, of sin and guilt. (T-28.II.12)

Right here, within the fears of the world, the answer we need is present. I know you may feel vulnerable and unsure, and we all clearly need to deal with our needs at hand, but let us also take advantage of moments to quiet and renew our minds with the truth. It is only when we deal with the effects of the world at their source, within our minds, that true healing and transformative change can take place.

As many of you may know, the Center is in the midst of our Lessons in Light Series, which follows the forty days (traditionally known as Lent) leading up to Easter. This series is about releasing our diminishing and sacrificing thoughts and awakening to our power, so it is appropriate that we delve into today’s 4th Lesson in Light, “Love holds no grievances,” as it gives us a glimpse into this process. This lesson so boldly proclaims why our focus right now needs to be on the healing power of love…

You who are created by Love like Itself can hold no grievance and know your Self.

If we want to know the healing power that is within us now, then we need to join our awareness with our strength, and that is not fear but love. Choosing love puts us in the flow of truth and our real power, whereas choosing fear casts us into the rabbit hole of hate, anger, attack, judgment, depression, and an endless list of limiting, diminishing thoughts that spiral us down, down, down until we no longer see a way out.

This is why the Course reminds us, “The goal of the curriculum, regardless of the teacher you choose, is ‘Know thyself.’” (T-8.III.5) It tells us that we are all seeking to know who we are and why we are here, but we cannot know this by only looking at ourselves and what we want, what makes us “happy” at the expense of others, and an endless list of separating thoughts. This does not mean that the Course is unconcerned with what you want or what will make you happy, but it knows you can’t be happy or know yourself if you exclude your brothers because they are you. As the text so insightfully puts it…

Everyone is looking for himself and for the power and glory he thinks he has lost. Whenever you are with anyone, you have another opportunity to find them. Your power and glory are in him because they are yours. The ego tries to find them in yourself alone, because it does not know where to look. The Holy Spirit teaches you that if you look only at yourself you cannot find yourself, because that is not what you are. (T-8.III.5)

How do we practically awaken to our power and glory?

This lesson starts out by reminding us that if we truly believe that Love is our Source, then we must assume that all of its characteristics, such as kindness, holiness, helpfulness, and perfection, are true for us as well. This may be hard for us to accept about ourselves and others from our current awareness, but we are assured this is the truth whether we experience it or not.

Therefore, if this is our essence, why would we not want to remove the blocks that withhold this from our awareness? Good questions. Here is what is holding us back: Grievances. As this lesson says,

To hold a grievance is to forget who you are.
To hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body.
To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death.

I know this is hard for us to believe, but it makes sense when you realize that holding a grievance against another (and even ourselves) is actually splitting you off from your Creator and Source. Therefore, your truth and true nature are unknown to you. But the Course tells us we then do another interesting thing. Instead of us releasing our grievances to know our Oneness with God and each other, we make God as hateful and grievance-filled as we believe others are, and, we certainly think we are. The Course reminds us that when we believe our grievances and hate are justified, we will then believe this is true of God Himself, “for no one can conceive of his Creator as unlike himself.”

These misperceptions, however, cannot change the fact that we are like God, but He is NOT like us. This means that you can never change the truth of who and what you are and what you are entitled to, but you CAN choose not to know it.

Shut off from your Self [your true reality], which remains aware of Its likeness to Its Creator, your Self seems to sleep, while the part of your mind that weaves illusions in its sleep appears to be awake. …he who holds grievances denies he was created by love, and his Creator has become fearful to him in his dream of hate. Who can dream of hatred and not fear God?

Amazing the lies we believe in, isn’t it? What can we do about it?

Whether or not you can fully understand this dilemma, it is certain we feel that something is wrong. We don’t realize that we are entitled to miracles, we don’t feel that each day we arise in glory, and we don’t often feel that today we can “wake with joy, expecting but the happy things of God to come to me.” (W-285) Therefore, how can we align ourselves with the truth?

It is time we change our priorities. Since I know you have tried just about everything to improve your life (because I certainly have), maybe we should try the Course’s remedy. As it tells us,

It is as sure that those who hold grievances will suffer guilt, as it is certain that those who forgive will find peace.
It is as sure that those who hold grievances will forget who they are, as it is certain that those who forgive will remember.

Would you not be willing to relinquish your grievances if you believed all this were so? Perhaps you do not think you can let your grievances go. That, however, is simply a matter of motivation. Today we will try to find out how you would feel without them. If you succeed even by ever so little, there will never be a problem in motivation ever again.

So, let’s give it a try. Let us question the value of holding grievances. What have you got to lose except your powerlessness and the pain and suffering it brings? This lesson asks us to think of those we hold major grievances against and those we hold minor grievances against – perhaps even those we love. As it says…

It will quickly become apparent that there is no one against whom you do not cherish grievances of some sort. This has left you alone in all the universe in your perception of yourself.

This can be a shocking awareness. We are asked to realize the cost of our grievances – they make us feel alone, isolated, and vulnerable, but this is not the truth that we are entitled to. It is now time we allow this lie to be transformed and finally take a step toward healing our lives at the level of the cause, not just treating the effect. If we are determined to begin the healing process today, then let us recognize those we have held a grievance against as the doorway to our healing. Say to them, thinking of each person who angers you…

I would see you as my friend, that I may remember you are part of me and come to know myself.

When we embrace others in our minds and see them as our friends, it does not mean we agree or condone their actions. Their actions are not them, just as our actions do not always represent who we are. For this exercise, we want to move past the world of form to the content, which is the truth in every situation and encounter with another. You are loved, and they are loved. For this moment, as you think of those who cause you upset or anger as friend, you can move past the world of illusions to a place where you are “completely at peace with everyone and everything, safe in a world that protects you and loves you, and that you love in return.” Isn’t that worth the “little willingness” the Course asks of us?

This lesson ends with three affirming thoughts that build on each other. First, a reminder of the value of practicing this lesson…

Love holds no grievances. When I let all my grievances go I will know I am perfectly safe.

Next, when you are faced with those who anger you (whether they are physically present or not), you have a motivation to apply the lesson because you want to know your “Self” and experience your safety…

Love holds no grievances. Let me not betray my Self.

Finally, allowing love to transform your grievances is the doorway to real power and connection…

Love holds no grievances. I would wake to my Self by laying all my grievances aside and wakening in Him.

We cannot know who we are or how we can be truly helpful while we are in this worldly experience if grievances reign in our minds and hearts. It may seem that these grievances come from out of nowhere, and in truth, they do. They come from a lie that has become so embedded in our minds. But remember, a lie said over and over again is still a lie. You are not fear but love. You are not lost but found. You are not alone but held lovingly in the Hands of God. Is not experiencing the truth of who you are and the transformative power of this awareness worth a little willingness to practice this thought?

Love holds no grievances. When I let all my grievances go I will know I am perfectly safe.

Especially now, this lesson is worth the effort.

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Above quotations are from A Course in Miracles lesson 68, unless otherwise cited.