“Atonement” is such an important word in the Course. Yet I think most students have a hard time connecting with it. To be honest, I had never managed to connect with it, either. But that has changed recently and I want to share with you that change.
In the Course’s teaching, our problem is not the loveless way the world has treated us. It’s how we have treated it. It’s the lovelessness in our own hearts. We have freely chosen this lovelessness, for no good reason. No one made us do it. We just made some bad choices.
This lovelessness we chose stands like a solid granite block (to use an image from the Course) between us and God. And by blocking out God, it blocks out everything we really want.
Admitting that the problem is our own lovelessness—something we tend to do very gradually—is what sets us up to appreciate Atonement. For Atonement is the wiping away of all that stands between us and God. Jesus pointed out privately to Helen Schucman that one of the meanings of atonement is to “to set at one, or reconcile; to agree.” He then said, “Obviously, before reconciliation or agreement is possible, what is out of accord must be undone.” Atonement, then, is the undoing of everything in us that is out of accord with God, so we can again be at one with Him.
The basis for this wiping away is the fact that our mistakes never really happened. We made them only in a dream. Accepting the Atonement “enables you to realize that your errors never really occurred” (T-2.I.4:4).
So now imagine all the mistakes you ever made being wiped away. Imagine all the lovelessness in you being undone. Imagine everything that stands between you and God vanishing like mists before the sun. Now realize that it all could disappear because it was never real in the first place. Could there be a better feeling than that?
If you then just associate the word “Atonement” with that feeling, you’ll never have a problem with connecting with it again.
[Please note: ACIM passages quoted in this article reference the Foundation for Inner Peace (FIP) Edition.]