Recently, I experienced a very painful event in my life—easily the most painful I have ever experienced. I won’t share the details of it here, but the gist was that I found something that I had been dreaming of finding my entire life, only to lose it in an unexpected and painful way within days of finding it. It was a devastating loss, and I’m still going through a grief process with it, but I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Here, I want to share some of the Course practices that have helped me through this trial.
One is the idea from the Manual (M-4) that we can trust the events that happen in our lives because they are governed by the Holy Spirit. The “Development of Trust” section speaks of things being taken away, and how we think this is a terrible sacrifice. But what we’re supposed to learn when this happens is that “These changes are always helpful” (M-4.I.A.3:7), and in fact “all things, events, encounters and circumstances are helpful” (M-4.I.A.4:5). I’ve been using that last line as a practice: “All things, events, encounters and circumstances—including this thing being taken away—are helpful.” I’m trying to trust that however awful this situation looks, God has placed a blessing for everyone involved in it, even if I can’t see what that is right now.
Another helpful pair of lessons has been Lessons 128 and 129, “The world I see holds nothing that I want” and “Beyond this world there is a world I want.” An aspect of my situation is a worldly desire: I believe that things working out a certain way on a form level would make me happy. These lessons emphasize that no worldly thing will ever make us happy, but there is a world beyond the physical that we have access to right now and can give us happiness anytime. So, I’ve applied these lessons directly to my situation: “The world I see—including my preferred outcome to this situation—holds nothing that I really want. But beyond this world, there is a real world that I want. I can have it anytime, and it will make me happy regardless of the outcome of this situation.”
This happiness theme is a third idea that has helped me a lot. There is a wonderful lesson called “God’s Will for me is perfect happiness” (Lesson 101), and the Course tells us elsewhere, “Delay of joy is needless. God wills you perfect happiness now” (T-9.VII.1:7-8). I once heard someone say that there is a place in us where we are “always, already happy.” The Course definitely agrees. So, one of the things I’ve been repeating a lot lately has been a very simple phrase: “I can be happy today.” I don’t have to wait until the stars are perfectly aligned and all my ducks are in a row. Good thing, because that never happens, and even if it did happen it would be temporary because everything in this world changes. Because God’s Will for me is perfect happiness now, all I need to do is find that place in me where I am always, already happy. I don’t have to wait. I can be happy today.
I won’t pretend that all this has completely freed me from the pain of my situation. It’s a process, and right now I have good days and bad days (and sometimes good hours and bad hours, or even good minutes and bad minutes). I’ve been in a fog the past few weeks. But doing these practices temporarily lifts me into the sunlight, and as time has passed I’m finding that I’m spending less and less time in the fog and more and more time in the sunlight. There have been moments where I have felt myself rise above the grief into a place of real joy. Given how painful the past few weeks have been, I count that as a miracle. I trust that with time and continued practice, I will reach the point where I really will be happy today and every day.