10. WORKING ON OURSELVES
""Only What you have not given can be lacking in any situation."
Relationships are meaningful because they are opportunities to
expand our hearts and become
more deeply loving. The Holy Spirit is the medium of miracles, a
guide to a different way of
viewing ourselves in relation to other people. I watch my baby as
she extends her
love to everyone she meets. She hasn't learned yet that anyone is
unsafe. Nothing stands between her natural
impulse to love and her expression of that love. She smiles with
the tenderness of her true feelings.
One day I will have to teach her that not every expression of
love is appropriate. But locking your door is vastly different
from locking your heart. The greatest challenge of parenthood
will be to support her in keeping an open heart while living in such
a fearful world.
We can't really give to our children what we don't have
ourselves. In that sense, my greatest gift to my
daughter is that I continue to work on myself Children learn more
through imitation than through any other form of instruction. Our greatest
opportunity to positively affect another person's life is to accept God's love
into our own.
That is one of the primary principles of miracles in
relationships: We are to look to ourselves-our own lessons, thoughts and
behavior-in order to find peace with another person. "The sole
responsibility of the miracleworker is to accept the Atonement
The ego will always tempt us to think that the breakdown of a
relationship has to do with what they
did wrong, or what they're not seeing, or- what they need to
learn. The focus must remain on
ourselves. We're affected by other peoples' lovelessness only to
the extent to which we judge them for it. Otherwise we are
invulnerable to the ego, as the Son of God is meant to be.
Sometimes people will say to me, "But Marianne, I think ninety
percent of this is their stuff."
"Fine," I say. "Then we have ten percent to investigate and learn
from." That ten percent that is
"your" part is what you need to look at and learn from. It is
what you will carry with you into the
next scenario. The ego knows this, which is why it tries to put
the focus on the other person. The
ego's purpose is to make us continually self destruct without
knowing that we're doing it. It's hard
enough cleaning up your own act. Trying to clean up someone
else's is just an ego trick to keep
you from applying yourself to your own lessons. In order to learn
the most from relationships, you
have to focus on your own issues.
These days it's very common to hear people complain that their
issue is that they choose the
"wrong" people. The ego is very sly here. It's trying to convince
us that we're taking responsibility
for the problem, when in fact we're only doing that to a very
small degree. Because our description
of the problem still makes someone guilty, it can only lead into
further darkness', not light. "I
continue to choose people who can't commit" is not a
miracle-minded perception. A more
enlightened question might be, "How committable am 11, really?
How prepared am I in the deepest
recesses of my being to give and receive love in an intimate,
committed way?" Or. "How can I
forgive those who could not go past a certain wall of fear when
dealing with me? How can I forgive
the ways in which I contributed to or participated in their fear?"
Sometimes it seems as though you're hooked: You
feel obsessed or compulsive about another person. When this is
the case, it's a pretty good bet that
on some level you're not letting them off the hook. In spite of
the temptation to look outside
yourself for the.
source as well as the answer to a problem, you hold to
miracle-minded thought by looking inside
yourself for both. The price you pay for not taking
your own pain is the failure to realize that you can change your
conditions by changing your
thoughts. Regardless of who initiated a painful interaction, or
how much of the error still lies in someone else's thinking, the
Holy Spirit. always provides you
with complete escape from pain through forgiveness on your part.
other person doesn't have to consciously join you in the change.
'Whoever is saner at the time,' says
A Course in Miracles, 'is to invite the Holy Spirit into a
doesn't matter whether or not another person shares our
willingness to let God enter. Everything
in life already exists inside your head.
I once had a crush on a gay man. It might have
been unreasonable, but I couldn't get him out of my mind. I asked
for a miracle, and the following
thoughts occurred to me: "You know, Marianne, you're obsessed,
you're so unreleased about this
you're not releasing him. Accept him as he is. Release him to be
where he wants to be, doing
wants to do with whomever he wants to do it. It's what you're not
giving that is lacking here. It's
what t you're doing to him that's causing you pain. Emotionally,
your ego is trying to control him,
which is why you're feel- controlled by your emotions." I got it.
I released him in my mind, and
then I felt released.