Claiming my power

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

Lately I’ve had a bit of a breakthrough working with Lesson 320, “My Father gives all power unto me.” It has helped me realize that I don’t have to let my life events determine how I feel. I am not a weak puppet at the mercy of “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”; rather I am an all-powerful being who can claim God’s eternal gifts of limitless strength, peace, joy, and love at any time.

The lesson says, “The Son of God is limitless. There are no limits on his strength, his peace, his joy, nor any attributes his Father gave in his creation” (1:1-2). His will is all-powerful because he has at his disposal “all the strength and love in earth and Heaven” (1:4). And this Son of God is not some remote, abstract figure with no relevance to my life. On the contrary, I am this Son of God: “I am he to whom all this is given. I am he in whom the power of my Father’s Will abides” (1:5-6).

I have been familiar with this teaching of the Course for some time, but I’ve tended to hold it at arm’s length. I think there are two main reasons for this. First, I’ve had a reluctance to embrace the “I am all-powerful” idea, because it sounds so similar to the rah-rah, ego-inflating “self-empowerment” schtick of motivational speakers and things like The Secret. “You have the power to have it all! Money! Romance! Six-pack abs! Just name it and claim it!”

Second, the idea just seems so unlikely. I feel so weak and small, a bug on the windshield of this huge and powerful world around me. I really do feel like a puppet on its strings. How could it be that all of the power of God is really in my hands? It sounds great, but it just seems so preposterous. My experience with life so far doesn’t give me reason to believe that this is really true.

But when Robert and I did a Workbook recording on Lesson 320 the other day, something in me told me that it was time to take this idea seriously. So, I looked squarely at my reluctance to let it in.

Dealing with my first objection wasn’t too hard. It almost goes without saying that the Course isn’t promoting the ego-inflating goals that animate so much of the self-empowerment movement. Indeed, this lesson is not talking about power to obtain worldly goodies, but power to experience spiritual gifts like peace and joy, “attributes [the Son’s] Father gave in his creation” (1:2). My power is not my personal genie, but rather stems from the fact that I share the Will of God: “What [the Son of God] wills with His Creator and Redeemer must be done” (1:3, my emphasis). This power, this Will, is meant not to shore up my ego, but to heal me from the ego and then, through my extension, heal the world: “Your will can do all things in me, and then extend to all the world as well through me” (2:1).

As for the second objection, well, to be honest the idea that my Father gives all power unto me is still difficult to believe. But what I’m trying to do is at least increase my willingness to try it on for size. I’m saying to myself, “Greg, this course is your path. You have come to trust that its author knows what he is talking about. And he tells you again and again that God has shared all of His power with you. Why not give him the benefit of the doubt? Why not act as if this idea were really true? Why not claim this power in your practice and see what happens?”

I’ve done just that, repeating this idea and key lines from the lesson throughout the day. I’ve been focusing especially on the idea that God has given me the power to experience unlimited strength, peace, and joy at all times; my feelings are not determined by outer events, but by my decision to accept what God has given me. I’ve especially been applying it to upsetting situations, situations that seem too big for weak little me to handle: “My Father gives all power unto me. I have all the strength I need to deal with this situation, and I have the power to experience limitless peace and joy regardless of what happens here.”

The results of this practice have been quite promising. I have felt much stronger. I feel a new power in me that gives me the strength to deal more effectively with what life presents to me. And my mood has elevated; I’ve experienced much more peace and joy since I started using this practice. I’m hopeful that I’m really on to something here. Maybe God really has given all power unto me.