Last week was one of my best practice weeks ever. I got quite excited about the lessons (28-34), which seemed to fit together perfectly for me, and were having benefits beyond what I had experienced before. One day I was out for six hours in a huge snowstorm, and I actually had fun as I drove around with a sense of lightness, repeating phrases such as, “God is in this driving snow, because God is in my mind” or, “I’m not a victim of this snowstorm because I invented it as I see it. There is another way of looking at it. I can see peace in it.” This came in really handy as a response to the temptation to be impatient with other drivers! I was on fire with these lessons, so when a challenging situation arose for James (my husband and partner in Course Oasis) and me later in the week, I was eager to apply the lessons to it.
The company that James works for had just announced massive changes, which have included laying off hundreds of employees, halting new building projects, and closing down sites. Fortunately, James still has his job, but many of his colleagues and teammates have lost theirs.
After moving back to Ottawa, we went through a couple of rocky years without fulltime employment, and when James got his current job, we saw it as a real blessing. He really enjoys his work, and it’s been a relief to have a sense of stability in our lives. However, the news of these cutbacks last week threatened to destabilize us and by the end of the week, we were both feeling shaky. Determined not to give in to negativity and the doom and gloom picture the ego was painting, I suggested that we sit together and apply the lessons to the situation. I was sure they would help both of us regain a sense of peace.
We started off with Lesson 26, “My attack thoughts are attacking my invulnerability.” Each of us identified our concern, which, for both, was the current work situation. Then we took turns identifying our fears in the form given in the lesson; for instance, “I [James] am afraid that I will be laid off and that, at my age, I won’t be able to find another job.” “I [Mary Anne] am afraid that you will lose your job and we won’t have any money to live on.” We did this slowly, trying to identify all the fears that we had about what would happen. The fears that came initially were the obvious ones and they came quite readily, but as we searched our minds, deeper ones surfaced, surprising us and bringing up quite a bit of emotion.
After each one of our fears, we said, “That thought is an attack upon my myself, because….” The lesson didn’t ask us to identify why the particular fear was an attack upon ourselves, but we found that it helped. The list of “becauses” portrayed a picture of us that was quite demeaning, and they all amounted to our denying our identity as a holy Son of God and all the witnesses we had to God’s love for us. Doing this was quite sobering, and it left us with the desire to stop attacking ourselves and to get back to trusting in a reality that was “safe and sure, and wholly kind to everyone and everything” (T-16.II.8:6).
Next we used the four lessons in “the world I see” series (31 to 34), with a nod to the seeing differently lessons. “I am not a victim of the world I see. I will not put myself in bondage by yielding to the temptation to see myself as a victim. I am not a victim of this situation, because I have invented it as I see it. There is another way of looking at it. I could see peace in this situation instead of all the fearful outcomes that I now see. If I invented it as it is, I can reinvent it to see peace. I could see peace if I were willing to see this situation differently. Above all else, I do want to see it differently.”
After this, we were ready to turn to the Holy Spirit for help, so we asked Him how He wanted us to see the situation, how he wanted us to be, and what He wanted for us. We don’t always get guidance readily, but this time it was there almost immediately, and it just seemed to pour out of us. Although there were variations in what each of us received, we essentially got the same message: we are to go through this period with trust and confidence in God’s care and in His strength and peace in us.
We had started this exercise feeling worried and “down,” but we both came out feeling joyful, grateful, and peaceful. It was as if our batteries had been recharged. Our uncertainty and insecurity had melted away and we were full of confidence that whatever happened, we would deal with it together with grace and with ease.
We were so inspired by our experience, that we have decided to make this kind of practice an integral part of our “problem-solving repertoire” (W-pI.194.6:2) and apply it whenever the need arises.