Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now
LESSON 197 It can be but my gratitude I earn.
- Here is the second step we take to free your mind from the belief in outside force pitted against your own. You make attempts at kindness and forgiveness. Yet you turn them to attack again, unless you find external gratitude and lavish thanks. Your gifts must be received with honor, lest they be withdrawn. And so you think God’s gifts are loans at best; at worst, deceptions which would cheat you of defenses, to ensure that when He strikes He will not fail to kill.
- How easily are God and guilt confused by those who know not what their thoughts can do. Deny your strength, and weakness must become salvation to you. See yourself as bound, and bars become your home. Nor will you leave the prison house, or claim your strength, until guilt and salvation are not seen as one, and freedom and salvation are perceived as joined, with strength beside them, to be sought and claimed, and found and fully recognized.
- The world must thank you when you offer it release from your illusions. Yet your thanks belongs to you as well, for its release can only mirror yours. Your gratitude is all your gifts require, that they be a lasting offering of a thankful heart, released from hell forever. Is it this you would undo by taking back your gifts because they were not honored? It is you who honor them and give them fitting thanks, for it is you who have received the gifts.
- It does not matter if another thinks your gifts unworthy. In his mind there is a part that joins with yours in thanking you. It does not matter if your gifts seem lost and ineffectual. They are received where they are given. In your gratitude are they accepted universally, and thankfully acknowledged by the Heart of God Himself. And would you take them back when He has gratefully accepted them?
- God blesses every gift you give to Him, and every gift is given Him, because it can be given only to yourself. And what belongs to God must be His own. Yet you will never realize His gifts are sure, eternal, changeless, limitless, forever giving out, extending love, and adding to your never-ending joy while you forgive but to attack again.
- Withdraw the gifts you give, and you will think that what is given you has been withdrawn. But learn to let forgiveness take away the sins you think you see outside yourself, and you can never think the gifts of God are lent but for a little while before He snatches them away again in death. For death will have no meaning for you then.
- And with the end of this belief is fear forever over. Thank your Self for this, for He is grateful only unto God, and He gives thanks to you onto Himself. To everyone who lives will Christ yet come, for everyone must live and move in Him. His being in His Father is secure because Their Will is one. Their gratitude to all They have created has no end, for gratitude remains a part of love.
- Thanks be to you, the holy Son of God. For as you were created, you contain all things within your Self. And you are still as God created you. Nor can you dim the light of your perfection. In your heart the Heart of God is laid. He holds you dear because you are Himself. All gratitude belongs to you, because of what you are.
- Give thanks as you receive it. Be you free of all ingratitude to anyone who makes your Self complete. And from this Self is no one left outside. Give thanks for all the countless channels which extend this Self. All that you do is given unto Him. All that you think can only be His thoughts, sharing with Him the holy Thoughts of God. Earn now the gratitude you have denied yourself when you forgot the function God has given you. But never think that He has ever ceased to offer thanks to you.
Notes and Personal Application: Today we are taught that we earn only gratitude toward ourselves in Christ. I know how this feels on an earthly plane – to feel grateful to oneself. I experience this sometimes when I think of how long it took me to fulfill my earthly accomplishments. No matter how long it took me or how old I got in the meantime, I kept plugging away refusing to give up. How I longed at times to relax and let go of my dreams! I remember castigating myself for not being content to reading other people’s novels, why did I feel compelled to write one of my own? And why not sit and watch my favorite TV shows, eating popcorn and ice cream snuggled on the couch every night instead of studying, writing papers, researching, or working on my novel? Sometimes I would give in to laziness or lack of belief in my ability to accomplish my goals. Sometimes I would let the opinions and tempting offers of others knock me off course. But in the end how exciting it was to learn and apply my newfound knowledge in my life and in my work. How utterly fulfilling it felt to see my book in print. All the time and effort and fun times I missed when I was working toward my goals was now worth it. No matter how people teased me about how old I was to finally be graduating from university, no matter how many people loved my novel or refused to read it, I was just so darn thankful that I had finally accomplished the things that had been instilled in me since I could remember.
Today however, it is not the earthly accomplishments that Jesus is talking about. Our concept today is to be applied to how we are to free our mind from all thoughts of an outside force pitted against our own force. When we extend forgiveness to those who have wronged us and they show no sign of gratitude toward our mercy, the worse thing we can do is take back our forgiveness and continue to hold a grudge toward them. Jesus is telling us today that we must extend our gifts of forgiveness and goodness no matter what the reception because if we “take it back,” we will likewise believe that God takes back His gifts, that He only loans them to us, or that He only wants us to forgive and be kind to make us vulnerable and defenseless against Him.
When we are not aware of the power of our thoughts, we confuse God with guilt. We forget how strong we are, and we think that weakness is our defense. We see this all about us when it comes to people who love and fear God. They do not like to take credit for anything but are quick to say, “Oh it was God who did it, not me.” They are so afraid that God will get His little feelings hurt if they take credit for their hard-earned business success or their beautiful artwork or handiwork. “I am weak, Lord, You are the big strong One,” is another line in this false humility before the Lord. In the eyes of someone who fears God, establishing their weakness and their lack makes God seem all the more powerful and stronger and bigger. But Jesus is telling us today to stop this – God did not create us to be weak and to cringe before Him. We are not to appease Him by not accepting our power and strength and intelligence. Weakness is not salvation! We are not to believe “I am weak, but You are strong.” We are to accept our Sonship. Freedom and salvation are joined with strength beside them. We are to seek this and claim this and find it and fully recognize this fact – today.
When we begin to see that God did not make us as underlings to worship and praise Him out of fear and smallness and weakness, but to become One with Him – we are released from our puny, sad, stupid little lives that spin and spin but never go anywhere at all. And when we are released, we release the world. It is all a matter of freeing our minds from the illusion of the outside world. Personally, the way that I have come to understand this is to realize that my ego human eyes have been programmed to see a world of illusion, discord, separation, shame, blame, guilt, and sin. Yes, my ego eyes report a world of that is nice, sweet, and kind in many areas but equally badass and bitter in others. My ego eyes take all that is pure and good and forever and turn it into somewhat and doomed. My ego eyes take the eternal love and devotion that God has for us, His Son, and turns it into anger, rage, and eternal damnation – except of course for the select few that manage to better themselves above the rest of us and sail into the heavenlies waving a cheery ta-ta. Ego wants us to believe in a God that would not take responsibility for His Creation and help them to find a way back to Him, not only blaming His Creation for failing to please Him, but devising ways to torment and torture them throughout eternity.
We earn our gratitude and we earn the gratitude of God when we stop believing such tripe and listen to the call of Love within our hearts. Kindness and forgiveness then comes naturally to us as we forgive the blinded and misguided world. It does not matter what they say or do – they may express thanks for our insights or they may reject them – they may honor us one day and discount our words the next – when we claim our strength, when our thoughts are set free of the ego dogma that would have us fear God and seek approval and honor from those who still believe this world is their home and these bodies are who and what they are – we earn the gratitude of Him with Whom we are One.
It is God who blesses our gifts and when we give them to Him, we give them to ourselves because we are One. Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms today – we will only know that His gifts are certain, everlasting, unchanging, without limit, always extending and giving love and joy when we forgive and never take it back, when we forgive and never attack those with whom we forgave.
Death has no more allure or meaning. Fear is gone forever. We forgive and never do we have to forgive again because there is simply nothing anyone can do or say that will cause us to believe in the lies of this world. Now that we see with the eyes of Christ, now that we love God instead of fear Him, we choose only thoughts of love, joy, and peace. This is how we earn gratitude; this is how we walk in love. This is how we return to God from whence we came.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 197. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).
Audio credit: http://www.eckiefriar.com