This review places a different slant on these two ideas than in the original lessons. There, the only problem was defined as separation. Here, more directly in sync with the preceding lessons about grievances, “the problem is always some form of grievance that I would cherish” (1:2). Of course there is a close relationship between separation and grievances. A grievance separates me from whatever or whoever I hold the grievance against. So we could see a grievance as a thought or belief that separates me from my brothers.
Later in the Workbook the same thought is stated slightly differently, in terms of forgiveness or unforgiveness: “Certain it is that all distress does not appear to be but unforgiveness. Yet that is the content underneath the form” (W-pI.193.4:1-2). The problem is a grievance, or an unforgiveness. And it doesn’t always seem that way to us. Sometimes, when I feel distress of some sort, or experience what seems to me to be a problem, I cannot for the life of me see any grievance or unforgiveness in it. The ego is an expert at camouflage. It survives by trickery and misdirection: “How can it maintain the trick of its existence except with mirrors?” (T-4.IV.1:7). Its temptations to attack or to harbor unforgiveness are often so well disguised I don’t detect them as such, although it is “certain” that is what they are. The form deceives; the content is the same.
When I come to the Holy Spirit with my problems or my distress, I must be willing to be shown the grievance or unforgiveness lurking in them. For me, so often, what I find is a form of grievance against myself, some form of self—judgment. Other times, I don’t understand the connection between my form of problem and forgiveness, but I assert my willingness to be shown, and I consciously choose a miracle for all concerned, including myself. “The problem is a grievance; the solution is a miracle” (1:5). If I can’t see the exact instance of unforgiveness in what I perceive as a problem, at least I can choose a miracle instead of the problem. That willingness is enough.
The idea that the problem and the answer are “simultaneous in their occurrence” (3:4) seems strange. It seems “natural” to separate them by time: first the problem, then the answer. But if the problem is separation, or a grievance, the concept becomes easier to understand. God answered the separation with the Holy Spirit the instant the separation entered the mind of God’s Son (M-2.2:6). Every problem I perceive, therefore, has already been resolved before I perceive it. “It is impossible that I could have a problem which has not been solved already” (3:7), because separation—the only problem there ever is—has already been resolved. Therefore I don’t have to wait for circumstances to change; I can accept the peace of complete resolution now, without anything changing at all. “I need not wait for this to be resolved” (4:2).
I have a long-standing relationship problem that, in time, has been going on for over fifteen years, and which shows no outward signs of resolution. The other party has absolutely no interest in—more properly, has an aversion to—talking with me, so resolution, within time, seems impossible. Yet I can let go of the tension this could produce in me. I can be free of the stigma of “an unhealed relationship.” In the holy instant I can know that problem, that rift in relationship, has already been healed. Down at the core of my mind and her mind, we are already one in love; everything has been forgiven. The disease of separation has already been inoculated, and the medicine of forgiveness is slowly and inexorably spreading through both of our minds, moving from the invisible sphere of spirit into the more concrete, thicker sphere of manifestation in the material world. There is no cause for concern. “It is the destiny of all relationships to become holy” (M-3.4:6). Today, I can recognize that this problem has already been solved. I believe my doing so speeds the day that healing will manifest in form. It may not be in this lifetime; what does that matter? The healing has already taken place.
One thing I notice as I think this way about this relationship, even as I write: Accepting that the problem is already solved frees me from the temptation to blame the other person for her refusal to make peace. Aha! A grievance was there, wasn’t it, Allen? I accept a miracle in its place; thank You.