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Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now

Lesson 21 I am determined to see things differently.

  1. The idea for today is obviously a continuation and extension of the preceding one.  This time, however, specific mind-searching periods are necessary, in addition to applying the idea to particular situations as they may arise.  Five practice periods are urged, allowing a full minute for each.
  2.   In the practice periods, begin by repeating the idea to yourself.  Then close your eyes and search your mind carefully for situations past, present, or anticipated that arouse anger in you.  The anger may take the form of any reaction ranging from mild irritation to rage.  The degree of the emotion you experience does not matter.  You will become increasingly aware that a slight twinge of annoyance is nothing but a veil drawn over intense fury.
  3. Try therefore, not to let the “little” thoughts of anger escape you in the practice periods.  Remember that you do not really recognize what arouses anger in you, and nothing that you believe in this connection means anything.  You will probably be tempted to dwell more on some situations or person than on others, on the fallacious grounds that they are more “obvious.”  This is not so.  It is merely one example of the belief that some forms of attack are more justified than others. 
  4. As you search your mind for all the forms in which attack thoughts present themselves, hold each one in mind while you tell yourself: I am determined to see __________ differently. I am determined to see ______________ (specify situation) differently.
  5. Try to be as specific as possible.  You may, for example, focus your anger on a particular attribute of a particular person, believing that the anger is limited to this aspect.  If your perception is suffering from this form of distortion, say: I am determined to see __________ (specify the attribute) in ______________ differently.[1] 
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Notes and Personal Application (2019):

First practice period:

  • I am determined to see Linda differently. 
  • I am determined to see the cat scratching our bedspread and furniture differently.
  • I am determined to see the negativity expressed by James differently.
  • I am determined to see my weight differently.
  • I am determined to see the religion that I was raised in differently. 
  • I am determined to see my mother differently.
  • I am determined to see my family differently.
  • I am determined to see how prevention is not valued and funded adequately differently.
  • I am determined to see Heather’s “pet” status differently.

In James and my coffee chats this morning, we discussed the Course’s absence of teaching of a devil or Satan or any particular “evil one.”  It was one of my main hurdles of accepting the Course as from Jesus or of having anything to do with true Christianity, but as we talked, I finally started to get it.  There doesn’t have to be an “evil one.”  Anything apart from God and away from the true Creation leads to death, destruction, decay, and chaos.  It will take all manner of forms – but a life away from the Source of Life, away from our Heavenly Father – is a life of fear and sorrow and insanity in all forms.  It may look good, but it still ends the same way.  So there is no need for a “devil.”  We miscreate our own devils and fallen angels and forms of ill mental health.  It can go on like this until we wake up – and wake up we finally will.  Better sooner than later, Jesus said to me this morning in my devotions.

I ask Jesus to guide and protect me and keep me on the right path. I have followed the guidance of the Holy Spirit in studying the Course, and I trust in Him to protect my mind. 

Notes and Personal Application (2020):  This morning we got a later start than usual.  All that exercise yesterday – I slept like a log and only woke up while James was whirring up his breakfast smoothie in the NutriBullet.  Even then I drifted immediately into the hazy land of dreams and we were in China; there was our three-wheeled motorcycle and he was taking me to work in the sidecar.  So instead of having our devotion I sent him the audio lesson in a text so he could listen to it on his drive to work and back. 

It is an amazing experience having my notes and personal application from last year as I go through the Course again with James.  For instance today I was so surprised to see that a dear friend who had been estranged from me for years had popped up first in my mind as I was doing the exercises.  Our special relationship had extended back to little girls holding hands on the playground.  Boy crazy and mischievous, we had had lots of adventures together both holy and unholy!  When that went away it was a sorrow that got buried beneath a lot of other sorrows that were happening at the same time and so was never fully addressed or even experienced as sorrow as much as just “more of the same.”  A thing about my life with James – we were always up to something fun and exciting.  It was easy to bury emotions rather than deal with them because our landscape kept changing – a new job, a fresh horizon, different workmates, another batch of darling ducklings.  

When my feelings were hurt, it was all too easy to shrug it off as easy-come, easy-go, and bury the hurt while expecting others to be as flippant about their need for love and belonging as I chose to be.  It was the way I survived my childhood. Throughout most of my adult life I could boo-hoo a few days and then laugh just about anything off, refusing to give it a second thought: “Drop off the key, Lee,” “Catch you later, alligator!” 

But 20 days into the lessons, and here was my precious friend popping up in my mind and I determined to see her differently.  Only a few months later, and those little girls who saved each other as traumatized children are holding hands again.  A miracle which we still thank God for many times each day.

But that’s not the only one!  In 2019, I determined to see my cat differently.  It was winter and she was going about mad with cabin fever, turning vicious, which I could barely tolerate.  Our pretty gray cat with her emerald eyes and sweet, heart-shaped face was driving me out of my mind.  When I chose to see her differently, something happened to both of us.  I began enjoying her.  I bought her a new laser light which she loved to play with.  She began to sit on my lap without digging her claws in and putting her butt in my face.  She stopped scratching the furniture and gnawing on the bedspread because now I was talking to her and playing with her and scratching under her chin instead of scolding her and begrudging the furballs and stinky litter box.  When I return to the house on weekends, she is as tickled to see me as I am tickled to see her.  I see her differently.  And I am so thankful for that.

I no longer feel half-sick when James expresses negativity.  Because I determined to see his negativity differently, I now see it as a request for help. He so rarely expresses himself in a negative way anymore that when he does, I now ask him what he needs.  Sometimes he just needs a hand with something; other times he just needs my ear; other times he apologizes and restates his negativity in a more loving and positive way.  I see this as a miracle.  If there was one thing that I could hardly bear about my husband, lover, and bestie was the way he expressed himself when he was riled up about something.  This has changed.  Hallelujah for that. 

A year ago, I wrote “I am determined to see my weight differently.”  Throughout my whole life I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight.  I love food; eating is one of my biggest pleasures.  I love to cook, plan menus, and shop for food. Trying new recipes is exciting to me.  However, most everything else that I love to do requires lots of sitting.  Writing, researching, meditating and seeking God – watching movies, playing board games, working puzzles – all sedentary activities that require quietness, focus, and sitting still.  Hence a problem with weight.  This past year the Holy Spirit directed me how to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and body image.  I call it the BLD-20/20/20, which basically consists of a yogurt and fruit-based smoothie for breakfast, a vegetable and protein for lunch and dinner; fasting between meals, and 20 minutes of dedicated exercise between meals.  This has been a very doable plan for me, and it works.  Have I followed it to the letter?  No, I have not.  But my attitude toward my weight and body has changed for the better.  I am now thankful for my body, for good food, for the ability to use the stairs, to stand when I put my tights and shoes on, to bend over, stoop, kneel, and carry things.  I no longer feel self-loathing and reproach.  Although I weigh basically the same as I did last year at this time, I love my body and appreciate it to the utmost.  I see it as serving me until my function here is no longer necessary, when I can put it down to rest and go home to be with God.  Who cares how much it weighs if it works and serves as a learning tool?

In every single instance of what I wrote in last year’s notes, I can say the same thing.  I see the religion in which I was raised differently.  I am no longer bogged down by the terror and the misconceptions.

I no longer blame my mother or my family for things that hurt, disappointed, or caused me grief.  With no hatred or bitterness, the feeling of being victimized or misunderstood has no place to roost.  I no longer reproach myself or them over past wrongs.  I love and appreciate them for the lessons they taught me, the good times we shared, we challenges we weathered together and apart.  My mind is at peace.  

I do not harbor ill-feelings toward my former employees on the state level or the local level for putting more value on rescue and crisis instead of prevention education.  A former coworker who had posed a particularly annoying feeling to arise in me, filling me with angst and resentment, now appears in my mind as funny and beloved.  Although I remember all the things she did that annoyed me and caused me grief, I can now laugh about it and realize that we grated on each other; we were joined in our minds; we were two of a kind, and I love her. 

Growing up in the Pentecostal religion, miracles were seen as extraordinary events – tumors dissolved; the lame walked; the mute heard; and demons cast out of the deranged.  God was a god of vengeance, favoritism, and changeable temperament.  One had to toe a certain line to win his favor and prevent his wrath.  

A year with A Course in Miracles and I see miracles as changed perception.  God is love, and this is not His creation.  We are separated and the only way to return is to see that we are one.  Our minds are healed from bitterness, regret, anger, shame, reproach, and sorrow.  If one of us is guilty, we are all guilty; if one of us is saved, we are all saved.

We are all in the same boat, my cousin Caroline responded, when I apologized to her last week for stinking up her bathroom and she was administering Pepto-Bismol for my troubled stomach.  We are all in the same boat.  And nobody disembarks until we all disembark.  God will not let any of us perish on the sinking ship of separation.  The miracle is understanding how we got here and how we can go home.   


[1][1] A Course In Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 21 I am determined…Circle of Atonement, Complete and Annotated Edition, p. 968-969.