The Freedom of Forgiveness

by Beverly Hutchinson McNeff

As summer rolls around, we often feel a sense of freedom. Schools are out, vacations from work are planned, the cold winter weather turns warmer, and summer for those of us who live in the United States brings to mind our country’s birthday and its struggle for freedom. Freedom is not something we can just assume will be given to us in this world. We must nurture and support that truth. We are still seeking freedom, for freedom represents release from bonds that seem to confine us.

What confines you? Ask yourself this question. Is it the ongoing issues of Covid? Is it relationship issues? Is it a lack of money? Is it a job or a lack of a job? What imprisons you? What makes you long for freedom? It is not wrong to long for freedom, but it can become frustrating if we determine that freedom must come in certain ways. For example: I’ll feel free when this pandemic is finally over or if I get out of this relationship or if I get more of this or that. If we bargain for freedom in such a manner, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment because we are making freedom an external condition. Freedom is an internal choice.

A Course in Miracles defines freedom as forgiveness, saying that forgiveness is the only thing that will release us from our seeming bonds and show us the freedom that God has promised us. The Course’s Workbook Lesson 332 says, “Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free.” When we are caught up in manipulating this world that is based on fear, we feel lost and hopeless. The effects of the pandemic are still felt, insane wars devastate societies, and hate and anger run rampant in our own backyard. What can we see from the point of fear but more fear? But from the point of forgiveness, as guided by the Holy Spirit, we can experience freedom and release.

“Without forgiveness is the mind in chains, believing in its own futility. Yet with forgiveness does the light shine through the dream of darkness, offering it hope, and giving it the means to realize the freedom that is its inheritance.” (ibid)

How do we forgive? We consciously choose to release, offer love, and let God lead the way. In the Workbook Lesson 332, “Fear binds the world. Forgiveness sets it free,” we are given three steps for release:

1) Make the decision not to bind the world today. When you start your day, realize that you have a choice to look through the eyes of fear or love. One choice will bind you to a world of futility, and the other will release you to a world of possibilities.

2) Release how you think your decision to “not bind the world” will look. This is hard for us “egos.” We like to know how something is going to look. From our fear-minded, limited perspective, however, we could never imagine the beauty and freedom of the world God will show us if we put Him in charge. So, step back from your need to know, for just a moment, and allow God to fill in the blanks.

3) Extend forgiveness and experience freedom for yourself and the world. When we step back from our need to control the world and our lives and offer God our willingness to experience love, a feeling of release comes over us that is experienced by the entire world. Your choice to experience forgiveness instead of condemnation releases your mind and allows other minds to be released from their self-made prison by your example.

A Course in Miracles tells us over and over again that the decisions we make for healing and forgiveness affect our world. “The world you see is what you gave it…it is the witness to your state of mind, the outside picture of an inward condition. As a man thinketh, so does he perceive. Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.” (T-21.Intro.1) Therefore, the gifts we give to ourselves of healing and forgiveness are the gifts we give to the world and vice versa.

Recently, a long-time friend and supporter came back to the Course and the Center after a pause in his study of quite a few years. Brian, who lives in Oklahoma with his partner Jim, started again as a subscriber to MDC’s livestream meeting and quickly began posting about the miracles that were flooding into his awareness. He said he was astounded how much of the Course’s corrective thinking was still so fresh in his mind as he was willing to let the Holy Spirit lead the way. I loved this comment because it reinforces the Course’s truth that we are always connected to God’s love, whether we choose to be aware of it or not. As lesson 168 in the Course’s workbook says…

“God speaks to us. Shall we not speak to Him? He is not distant. He makes no attempt to hide from us. We try to hide from Him, and suffer from deception. He remains entirely accessible. He loves His Son. There is no certainty but this, yet this suffices. He will love His Son forever. When his mind remains asleep, He loves him still. And when his mind awakes, He loves him with a never-changing Love.” (W-168)

Isn’t that beautiful! He Loves us with a never-changing Love and only wants to help us release what binds us so we can feel the freedom this awareness brings. So, below is the miracle Brian experienced. Again, the power of a miracle is not that the world changes, but that we change our minds about the world and in doing so we are all released together.

“I had an interesting experience today while heading to the gym. I live just outside the Tulsa here in Oklahoma, so it is not uncommon to see what I saw this afternoon while driving into town. This being Oklahoma, I am never surprised to see some makeshift stand selling flags that honor (or worship) a well-known politician and with other flags, expressing great hate for another politician. Needless to say, despite this being only too common here, my response is always to seethe in rage and feel defeated, feeling as though there is nothing I can do and thus feeling trapped and helpless. And then I will become only angrier and angrier while becoming much more depressed.

Except not today. Today, I remembered that I do have a choice and then proceeded to choose to see this differently. It was as if, for a moment, what I saw meant absolutely nothing to me. I chose to instead remain in peace. I also chose not to give in to hate toward the person operating the stand.

The funny thing is that I haven’t even been back in the Course that long. Nevertheless, this served as a powerful reminder of how the Holy Spirit has never left me and will guide me through any challenge should I let him.

Living in Oklahoma can definitely be a challenge. But I am definitely never alone. Therefore, I suppose this must mean it is time for me to ‘Make Miracles Great Again’ in my own life.”

What a powerful example of where freedom truly is found. Freedom comes as we release the binds of this world, the fears from our minds, and offer God our willingness to be free through the gift of release — the gift of forgiveness. Whatever is the dark fear that binds you in your life, let God free you from the seeming limitations by allowing the light of forgiveness to rest on you and all you meet or even think of. He will free you from your fear, anger, and depression the moment you offer freedom. “For as we offer freedom, it is given us.” (W-332.2)

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