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A COURSE IN MIRACLES Chapter 17 Forgiveness and the Holy Relationship

V. The Healed Relationship 8-15

8. Accept with gladness what you do not understand, and let it be explained to you as you perceive its purpose, work in it to make it holy. You will find many opportunities to blame your brother for the “failure” of your relationship, for it will seem at times to have no purpose. A sense of aimlessness will come to haunt you, and to remind you of all the ways you once sought for satisfaction and thought you found it. Forget not now the misery you really found, and do not breathe life into your failing ego, for your relationship has not been disrupted. It has been saved.

9. You are very new in the ways of salvation and think you have lost your way. Your way is lost but think not this is loss. In your newness, remember that you and your brother have started again, together. And take his hand, to walk together along a road far more familiar than you now believe. Is it not certain that you will remember a goal unchanged throughout eternity? For you have chosen but the goal of God, from which your true intent was never absent.

10. Throughout the Sonship is this song of freedom heard, in joyous echo of your choice. You have joined with many in the holy instant, and they have joined with you. Think not your choice will leave you comfortless, for God Himself has blessed your holy relationship. Join in His blessing and withhold not yours upon it. For all it needs now is your blessing, that you may see that in it rests salvation. Condemn salvation not, for it has come to you. And welcome it together, for it has come to join you and your brother together in a relationship in which all the Sonship is together blessed.

11.  You undertook, together, to invite the Holy Spirit into your relationship. He could not have entered otherwise. Although you may have made many mistakes since then, you have also made enormous efforts to help Him do His work and He has not been lacking in appreciation for all you have done for Him. Nor does He see the mistakes at all. Have you been similarly grateful to your brother? Have you consistently appreciated the good efforts, and overlooked mistakes? Or has your appreciation flickered and grown dim in what seemed to be the light of the mistakes? Perhaps you are now entering upon a campaign to blame him for the discomfort of the situation in which you find yourself. And by this lack of thanks and gratitude you make yourself unable to express the holy instant, and thus lose sight of it.

12. The experience of an instant, however compelling it may be, is easily forgotten if you allow time to close over it. It must be kept shining and gracious in your awareness of time, but not concealed within it. The instant remains. But where are you? To give thanks to your brother is to appreciate the holy instant, and thus enable its results to be accepted and shared. To attack your brother is not to lose the instant, but to make it powerless in its effects.

13. You have received the holy instant, but you may have established a condition in which you cannot use it. As a result, you do not realize that it is with you still. And by cutting yourself off from its expression, you have denied yourself its benefit. You reinforce this every time you attack your brother, for the attack must blind you to yourself. And it is impossible to deny yourself, and to recognize what has been given and received by you.

14. You and your brother stand together in the holy presence of truth itself. Here is the goal, together with you. Think you not the goal itself will gladly arrange the means for its accomplishment? It is just this same discrepancy between the purpose that has been accepted and the means as they stand now which seems to make you suffer, but which makes heaven glad. If heaven were outside you, you could not share in its gladness. Yet because it is within, the gladness, too, is yours. You are joined in purpose but remain still separate and divided on the means. Yet the goal is fixed, firm and unalterable, and the means will surely fall in place because the goal is sure. And you will share the gladness of the Sonship that it is so.

15. As you begin to recognize and accept the gifts you have so freely given to your brother, you will also accept the effects of the holy instant and use them to correct all your mistakes and free you from their results. And learning this, you will have also learned how to release all the Sonship and offer it in gladness and thanksgiving to Him Who gave you your release, and Who would extend it through you.[1]

As we learn to heal our relationships, Jesus tells us not to breathe life into the ego interpretations of them.  We are not to judge others by our human perceptions – “He was a bad father; he worked all the time, he had affairs.  He never sent child support.  He never this and he never that.”  We are not to dwell on, talk about, or share with others the bad or the good report on our mothers or our fathers, our sisters or our brothers, our relatives, friends, teachers, coworkers, employers and employees.  All of our interpretations about any of our relationships is based upon a very limited and self-centered view – what was in it for me, how did they treat me, how did it work out for me and for those I care about.  The ego will always skew things in our mind – giving and taking will always be lopsided when the ego is in charge of a relationship.  Nothing will ever be quite as it seems.  There is the tiny little picture in the oversized gaudy frame.  Jesus tells us to look at the picture and remember that nothing that we really wanted, that satisfied us and made us happy, comes from the ego’s spiteful little picture of what a relationship should be. 

All this changes when we welcome holiness into them. Simply by asking for a healed relationship, the process begins in time to prepare you and me for the oneness of eternity. Jesus implores us not to become discouraged or to forget how meaningless relationships are without holiness as we enter this stage of transformation.  Working together in holiness with Holy Spirit simply means holding our relationships before Him in quietness and trust, removing them from ego and flesh and taking the smallness, the pettiness, the demands and victimhood out of it.  When we work in holiness with Holy Spirit it means we go higher.  We disengage from the past.  We keep a frame of mind that is based in the reality of God rather than the perceptions of the ego. 

We are new to this view of salvation.  We may think that we have lost our way, and we have lost “our” way, but this is no loss!  When we let the past go, we become new.  We shed not only the discordant and ongoing melodrama that we made in this lifetime with our brothers, we shed it from all previous carnations in which we may have brought it forward, divided it some more, shared it with everyone we knew.  We start again bringing nothing from the past – whether it be conscious or unconscious, whether it was from yesterday or a millennium ago.   We walk together hand-in-hand.  And the road in which we come together and walk hand-in-hand is very familiar to us in a way that cannot be explained.  For this is the goal of God to bring us together, and because it is the goal of God it is also our goal, for we are, together with Christ, His Son.  In the reality of God, unable to despise one another, we only seek what is best for each other, to love and uphold one another. 

 In paragraph ten, Jesus tells us that when we make this decision for holy relationships the Sonship sings with joy for this is the way to salvation.  For when we come to that instant which we make holy by asking for holiness, the Sonship joins with us.  No matter how lonely we have made ourselves with empty, go-nowhere relationships based upon the little-me clamoring for specialness, we are no longer comfortless for God Himself blesses our request for holiness.  For when we ask for holiness we are not asking for velvet robes and golden crowns, we are not asking for status in the world, we are not asking for wealth, we are not asking for beauty, or jewels or privilege – we are asking for love, for peace, for joy.  We are asking for wholeness and unity and mutuality.  We are asking for all the attributes and ideals of a Mind that is not low and coarse, lusty and fleshy.  And when we ask from the high mind of Christ to bring the high mind of Christ into our relationships, the Sonship of God is together blessed. 

The whole of God’s Son joins with us when we invite Holy Spirit into our relationships.  For Holy Spirit, unlike ego, does not barge in and make any of us do a thing.  And so I can ask for Holy Spirit to heal our relationship, and I can do my part by learning to trust and listen, by practicing holiness on my part, but you, too, must ask for holiness, you, too, must learn what I must learn.  And until you do, until you come to the end of ego, until you come to the end of seeking specialness, until you work in holiness and not against it – our relationship – healed in eternity – will suffer through time. 

And this is where we are required to work with Holy Spirit and give unto our brothers what is given to us.  This is how we learn holiness for if it were magic, when I ask for holiness between you and me, you will automatically be swept off your feet by holiness and we will live happily ever after in time, so blessed and so full of our love for one another, that it becomes very special all over again, and we are back at square one.  Holiness is not a trait of this world.  It cannot be found in anything physical at all. We ask for holy relationships because this is the condition of Heaven.  Specialness is opposition to God, and so if you are asking for a “holy marriage,” or a “holy best friendship,” or a holy country, or a holy war, or for holy children, pets, or clubs, or churches or bible study groups, if you are seeking holiness for this world and think it can be found in how humble or elaborate you dress or style your hair, or what you eat and how you eat it, you are asking for specialness.  For when we ask for holiness, we are putting down our need to stand out, to distinguish ourselves, to seek any special favor or anointing.  We are in a word, asking for oneness. 

And this oneness we ask for requires us, while we are still in the flesh, to overlook in our brothers what Holy Spirit overlooks in us.  Holiness requires us to appreciate and show gratitude for all our brother taught us and continues to teach us through what seems to be his goodness and what seems to be his mistakenness.  We must refrain from campaigning against our brothers by blaming and shaming them, by preaching at them and trying to force our ideas and spiritual insights upon them.  We must practice honesty with our brothers and speak from our hearts.  There is no false pride in holiness – there is no playing games in love.  There is no jealousy or envy.  And so when we embark upon the quest for holy relationships, we prepare ourselves for eternity, we prepare ourselves to leave this world in favor of the real one where we truly love one another, where we live in peace and joy and harmony forever. 

As I pray for holiness in my relationship with you, I must learn to thank you for all the times you made me suffer.  For looked upon through the eyes of holiness the times you seemed to make me suffer, the times you bored me with all your triteness and me, me, me I learned the value in quietness and the unworthiness of being self-centered.  I learned the value of freedom and liberty when you were jealous and acted possessive.  I learned the value of being honest and taking responsibility for what I say when you cried and left me for all the mean things I said about you behind your back.  I learned that if I have something to say about you, I need to say it to you not anybody else.  I learned the value of communicating with courage and commitment when you used silent treatment to keep me guessing about what had ticked you off this time.  I learned the value of sexual fidelity when you were unfaithful.  These are examples that show that every act of unholiness that others commit, that ego would use against us, Holy Spirit can use to teach us, to prepare us, to show us what is valuable and what has no worth at all.   

We can prevent time from closing over the holy instant by giving thanks in such ways for what our brothers teach us.  The holy instant is always there, it cannot go away or be lost, for it is forever unchanged.  However, to keep it shining with the grace and beauty that it brings to our relationships, we must be vigilant in our holiness for the goal of ego is to keep us in time, distracted by all that would bring light and dark into a world of opposition.  If we want to continue in the world we will teeter-totter back and forth – sometimes up and sometimes down in our relationships, we will love them one day and hate them the next.  We will bask in the sense of belonging when we get invited and sulk and wonder why they hate us when we don’t.  This is the relationship of the world – not all hate, but certainly not all love.  No certainty.  No assuredness.  No peace or everlasting joy. 

Holy Spirit teaches us consistency and certainty by practicing consistent and certain appreciation for our brothers.  While it is impossible to be consistent and certain in the flesh, the holy instant is where we find the source of this perfecting process.  We learn to stop attacking our brother. We learn to find appreciation for all he teaches us both in the positive and the negative.  We learn our perfection only through our relationships, for we cannot bring anything that opposes love and joy and peace to our eternity.  Again I will stress that this is not magic.  We will make mistakes.  We will feel defeated by our relationships and be tempted to give up on them completely!  We will feel like crawling in a hole and pushing everybody out.  What we have made here – the obligations and lack of graciousness, the spite and jealousy that characterizes our relationships in the world – seems an impossible task to heal.  And it is impossible in the flesh not to go into attack and defense modes even with those we dearly love. 

But defense and attack modes deny us the benefit of the holy instant because it blinds us to what we really are and what relationship is all about.  And so Jesus asks us to refrain from attacking our brother, from going into any kind of defense against him, and learn to trust in holiness by being holy in this regard. 

As we bring our relationships to holiness, we bring them to truth, we accept the goal of Holy Spirit and now we trust Holy Spirit to accomplish this.  To get caught up in the process and keep track of all our mistakes and wrong choices and times we forget – to keep scrutinizing our brother and letting the ups and downs of daily life determine our progress – we will suffer.  These daily ups and downs which will feel excruciating to us if we keep our eyes upon them are the means of our healed relationships.  The times you get on my last nerve are the means to our healing, it is the way we lose our attraction to the things of the flesh, it is the way in which time is put to work in the healing process by Holy Spirit. 

We join with Heaven when we pray for healed relationships, but Heaven is already inside of us, not on the outside but within us where we can share in its gladness and assuredness.  What happens outside of us is not there to distract us, to waylay us, to make us happy or make us unhappy – it is there to teach us that reality cannot be found there but within.  And when we learn this, we will share in the joy of Sonship for we will be assured, we will know, no matter what it may look like in the outer world, we will know the end of the story and be glad. 

What we give in our relationships, we receive and so when we give holiness we will receive it.  When we free our brother from his past, when we no longer make a big deal out of his mistakes, when we overlook his weirdness – the way he stretches his lips or pulls on his nose, when we no longer put any stock in his jealousy, or pretend to believe his lies – our own mistakes and peculiar ways are corrected and we are both free of the scorn, the shame, the sorrow which would have come from them. 

When we learn to bring our relationships to holiness, we join with Christ in His Vision for the world.  No longer ashamed of holiness, no longer ashamed of our yearning for God in a world that mocks and derides, no longer bound to a world of opposition and opposites, we prepare for God’s Kingdom. And in our happiness and gratitude to Him, we practice extending His Kingdom to all. 


[1] A Course in Miracles. Chapter 17 Forgiveness and the holy relationship. V. The healed relationship 8-15. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992).

For daily 2021 Workbook lessons visit www.i-choose-love.com courtesy of Linda R.

Audio credit: www.eckiefriar.com

Filed under: ACIM, Teaching and Learning

About the Author

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Coming up on sixty, my love for God, home and hearth, my husband and family fueled my decision to devote the rest of my life only to pursuits which brought love, joy, peace, and purpose. I am a writer, seeker, student, and teacher with experience professional and otherwise from waitressing to teaching the English language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. I hold a BA in Psychology from Bloomsburg University, which took nearly 30 years to attain while I squeezed courses in between raising my children, journaling, relationships, work, and an assortment of escapades, some of which I would rather forget! An ongoing passion for reading, writing, adventure, food, and fun, eventually led me to the love of my life, James, whom I met in 1996 and married in 1997. Our life together has been an exciting journey of work and travel, spiritual awakening, and domestic bliss ever since. Although we have experienced the tragic loss of family members and friends through death and estrangement, we have managed to turn our special relationship into a holy one by the grace of God and an acute and growing awareness of “there must be a better way!” In 2006, I published my first novel, Luella’s Calling, and am currently working on my second, Grover Good and the Stone Chateau. From 2013 through 2018, I worked as a Prevention Education Specialist for Transitions, a local domestic violence sexual abuse victim’s service agency. My work there, fueled by a lifelong enthusiasm for teaching, led me to obtain an MS in Education from Scranton University. In 2018, I resigned to accompany James on his work travels while focusing on my calling to study and teach A Course in Miracles. To that end, I dedicate the rest of my days to writing, sharing, and teaching the message of salvation found within the Course pages. Thank you for your interest in this blog. As I do not respond to comments on the posts, if you care to contact me, please email me at eckief@yahoo.com.

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