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Let Your Teaching Teach You

[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]

Now that we’re into a New Year, a time of new beginnings and resolutions for a different year, I thought we could look at what our New Year resolutions are for ourselves as teachers of the Course.

At the beginning of the year, I took my students–and myself–through a series of exercises, based on Jesus’ New Year’s messages, and culminating in asking for guidance for the New Year. I’d like to start by sharing with you one of Jesus’ New Year’s messages to Helen and Bill that particularly struck me, and how I have used it as the basis for my New Year’s teaching resolution.

In “The Reward of Teaching” (T-16.III), Jesus addresses the fact that Helen and Bill have not let their teaching teach them. Here are a few of his comments about this:

You may have taught well, and yet you may not have learned how to accept the comfort of your teaching. (1:2)

You have taught freedom, but you have not learned how to be free. (2:1)

This is a course in how to know yourself. You have taught what you are, but have not let what you are teach you. (4:1-2)

The Course says so many times that you can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t teach the transformative and healing ideas of the Course without those ideas being in you, and teaching them must strengthen and reinforce them in you. However, Helen and Bill weren’t making that connection or experiencing the benefits. They weren’t comforted by the ideas; they weren’t experiencing the freedom they taught; they hadn’t learned who they were, even though that’s what they were teaching; stood outside their teaching and apart from it (6:7).

I could really relate as I read these passages. In fact, it seemed that Jesus was speaking these words directly to me. Many’s the time I have taught a class and felt inspired, impassioned, and full of conviction about the Course’s teachings, only to awake the next morning feeling worried and anxious. How I had felt and what I had taught the previous evening seemed to have dissolved in the light of day and the face of “reality.” Something true and real comes out when I’m sharing the Course, but then the ego often steps in and takes over and I don’t feel included in the teachings. Sometimes, I feel that I am two different persons, although, as Jesus says in “The Reward of Teaching,” “You are not two selves” (6:1).

When I was doing my final New Year’s exercise, I asked Jesus and the Holy Spirit what they wanted of and for me for 2009, and here’s what I received:

Let your teaching teach you this year. Accept God’s Word for what you are and His Will for you and your happiness, and make them yours. Accept us, and our love. Feel it surrounding you and covering you with care. The love will do the rest–all that is needed. You are a miracle. We need you to be an expression of our love on earth. This too is what you need. Focus only on this and let it flow in and through you. Stop denying it or thinking it has no power in your daily life. It has all the power, the only power you need and want. It is the only truth, the one we call you to live. The rest will follow if you follow it. Try to remember, Mary; try to remember and follow.

You have given much this year; and remember that you cannot give what you don’t have yourself. The truth, love, joy, wisdom… all this is yours. It’s time to accept this so that they can bring you the peace they bring others through you. I will perform miracles through you. Fear not that you will give and not receive. Choose again and again and again, Mary, until you realize there is no other choice and it has already been made forever and ever.

Taking this to heart, I resolved to give Jesus and Holy Spirit what they ask and let my teachings of the teachings teach me. “This is the year for the application of the ideas that have been given [me]” (T-16.II.9:4)! I want to be as convinced of the power of the mighty ideas of the Course in my life as in the lives of my students. I know I am teaching what I need to learn, and this year I truly want to “learn and make learning commensurate with teaching” (T-16.III.7:1).

I really want to keep myself on track with my resolve, so every day as part of my morning quiet time, I have been trying to read a compilation I have made of Jesus’ New Year’s messages, the guidance I received, and my resolutions. So far, it has been working, but I see how diligent I have to be in sticking to this. It’s so easy to find excuses and justifications not to do it.

Now that I have shared my experience with you, I hope you will share what resolutions you have made in relation to your being a teacher of the Course this year. Can you relate to what Jesus said to Helen and Bill? If so, where is your learning out of sync with your teaching? What do Jesus and the Holy Spirit want of and for you in 2009? I hope that sharing this with one another will strengthen our motivation and resolve and provide us with the support we need to keep our resolutions and become even better teachers and learners.

P.S. Jesus’ New Year’s messages are quite a powerful resource. If you don’t already use them with your students and yourself, I encourage you to do so. If you’re interested, I’d be pleased to share with you my compilation, as well as the exercises I’ve written. On the sidebar in this Teacher’s blog site, there’s a link you can use to contact me by email.

With loving thoughts and blessings for a new year, a new beginning,

Mary Anne