“All that I have to do”

Ever since Robert’s blog on “The summary idea of the Course,” I have been on fire with the idea that all I am here to do is love and that I must not let anything stand in the way of that. It’s not really a new idea, but it seems to have affected me on a very deep level, and it seems that it is always in the back of my mind.

James and I have been using the phrase, “All that I have to do today is accept and extend God’s Love” on a regular basis. Sometimes we use it as an antidote to worry or anxiety, but more often we say it first thing in the morning, and that dispels any anxiety lurking around the edges. I have even taken to saying it to myself during the day whenever I start to feel burdened with “all that I have to do.” It gets me right back on track. It has even been bringing more joy into my life. Now, I look forward with anticipation and even excitement to my day and all the opportunities I will have to love. In his job, James has noticed that he is even actively on the lookout for opportunities to love and be truly helpful. I feel as if I am constantly (well, almost constantly!) in love. Even when I slip and start to get caught up in worry, I remind myself that all I have to do is love, and the worry is dispelled. Last evening, I had some uncharitable thoughts towards someone, and after a brief “perceptual temper tantrum,” I remembered why I was here, decided to let go of the ugliness of my unloving thoughts, and I felt myself fill with love for the person.

Before I went to bed last night, I told myself that even in my nighttime sleep I was here only to love. I offered my sleep to the Holy Spirit, asking Him to use it for the extension of love and healing. I awoke this morning out of a series of dreams in which I had offered acts of loving kindness to a variety of people, one of whom I have not seen since my university days–and that’s a long time ago! Two mornings this week, I awoke way too early, reminded myself that I had nothing to worry about, because all I had to do was accept and extend God’s love, and went right back to sleep. This is powerful “medicine”!

I have also been sharing this idea with my students and pupils. Here are two seemingly unrelated situations that have benefited from it.

One of my pupils has been experiencing a lot of anxiety in the past while. It manifests first thing in the morning or sometimes in the middle of the night. It’s not related to anything specific; it’s just a vague, generalized sense of worry or dread. If it were about something specific, she could do something about it more easily. However, dealing with generalized anxiety–that sense of impending doom, of something hanging over her, or worry about what’s ahead of her during the day–is not quite as straightforward.

She awakes every morning wondering how she’s going to get through the day. She’s afraid that something “bad” is going to happen and she won’t be able to handle it. She thinks about all that she has to do, starting off her day with, “I have to do this… and I have to do that…,” sprinkled with a lot of “what ifs.” Having gone through periods of anxiety at different points in my life, and still awaking this way from time to time, I can relate to what she’s been experiencing.

As we were talking, I said, “What if you awoke every morning and said to yourself, ‘All that I have to do today is to accept and extend God’s Love. That’s it. That’s all.’ How would you feel then? How would you see yourself going about the business of the day?” I could see her visibly relax as she began to imagine how different she would feel and how different her day would be.

She also said that up until now she had been thinking, “I have to wait to experience God’s Love before I can really give it.” Now she’s realized that the way to experience God’s Love is by giving it, and as soon as she wakes up, she is reminding herself that all that she’s here to do is love. She feels as if her whole life is being turned around. Loving is becoming the conscious focus of her life.

When we were discussing the “world lessons” (128-133), another one of my students was quite upset. She said that she enjoys the things of the world and was afraid that the Course was asking her to give them up, thereby denying herself any enjoyment in the world. “For instance, I enjoy my morning coffee. Does this mean I have to stop wanting coffee and enjoying it?!” We talked about that for a bit, and then I had a picture, which I related to her: “I see you going into Tim Horton’s (a Canadian coffee shop chain) and ordering a coffee. You wait patiently to be served, and are friendly and loving to the server and the cashier. Then you are going out the door and you smile at a person coming in. Now you’re driving along, extending loving thoughts to the other drivers, including that one who just cut you off. That brings you joy! You’re enjoying that coffee a lot more because the whole process around getting it and drinking it has been surrounded by your loving thoughts.” I think she understood that it’s not about giving up the things she enjoys, but infusing everything she does with love. I even bet that a cup of coffee does taste better when love is the main ingredient!

I am on fire with the primacy of love. It’s as if, like with the example of the coffee, everything in my day must be about loving. Love is becoming the focus of my days and everything is starting to fit into that framework. I feel as if I have been let in on a great truth and that this truth is starting to change everything in my life. Today, in this moment, in this situation, in this relationship– “All that I am here to do is to accept and extend God’s Love…. All that I am here to do is love.”

With much love,

Mary Anne