Sitting in a corner of the dining room, our meeting went on beyond the time breakfast was served, and the staff was cleaning the dining room tables. I felt bad about occupying a table during the cleaning period, but no one said anything, so my sponsor and I continued.
Our meeting went on into the time that the lunch buffet opened, and I thought for sure we should leave, since the buffet was expensive and the hotel might think we were trying to stay for a free lunch. At that point a waiter came to us, carrying a tray. I thought he was going to ask us to leave, but when I looked at the tray, I saw that he was bringing us a tea service. “I thought you might like some refreshment,” he told us as he served us graciously.
I was deeply touched by this thoughtful act. My mind had gone into guilt about overstaying our welcome, but the waiter’s mind went to kindness and consideration.
A Course in Miracles tells us that there are only two belief systems: love and fear. Every thought we have, feeling we feel, and act we do proceeds from one of those worlds or the other. Guilt, owingness, and punishment are the offspring of fear. Innocence, grace, and relief issue from love. At every moment you are choosing between the two and reaping the resultant experience of the choice you have made.
We have heard a lot about the Law of Karma, but not so much about the Law of Grace. I often hear people rationalize their ills by saying, “I guess this is just my karma I have to pay off.” Or, “He deserves that. It’s his karma.” We are too prone to use karma to justify pain, when we could use grace to justify our release from pain.
We have made up lots of stories about God, many of which we use to hurt ourselves. Voltaire said, “God created us in His image and likeness, and we returned the compliment.” Someone else said, “If God is who we think He is, He could use a course in anger management.” Perhaps it is time to make up a new story about God, one closer to the truth of a love.
We are often harder on ourselves than others are harder on us. Friends usually have more space for our humanness than we do. After I had scheduled a massage, another meeting came up and I had to change my massage appointment. Then my schedule changed again and I needed to call my massage therapist John to change the appointment again. “I’m terribly sorry for having to reschedule again,” I told him. To my surprise, John answered, “That’s all right. If you need to change it again, just let me know.”
I was stunned. I had held myself in judgment for inconveniencing John, when he supported me to do what I needed to do. Now, many years later, when someone needs to change an appointment with me and I start to feel disappointed or irritated, I remember the grace John showed me and I try to pass it along to my friends and clients.
To put grace into action we need to reframe what we believe are our sins or those of others. We can see such acts as simply errors or purposeful experiences that help us grow. “Sin” is an acronym for Self Inflicted Nonsense. We make up all kinds of stories about how we are guilty for this and we deserve to suffer for that, when our pain comes not from God, but from our self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s time to make up a better prophecy that brings us relief rather than travail.
If you would like to do an uplifting exercise to undo fear, guilt, and blame, take a piece of paper and write down everything you think is wrong about you, your life, and those around you. List physical, relationship, financial, and spiritual issues, and anything else you can think of that you hold yourself, others, or the world under the onus of negative judgment. Then hold the paper between your hands and pray sincerely. “Dear God, please let me be wrong about all of this.”
Your prayer is answered instantly because your judgments about what is wrong are wrong. When you are intent on being right about what is wrong, what is wrong stays wrong. When you are intent on being right about what is right, what is right expands and gets better.
You made up the world you see. You can re-make it up if you choose. Love or fear ― there are no other options. Fortunately, what you see through the eyes of love is real, and all that you see through fear is born of illusion. When fear is ready to kick you out, grace would serve you tea.