Once upon a time, I received a letter from a dear friend who told me that something I’d said a year before had hurt her feelings. My friend, I’ll call her Barb, who lived just a few miles from me, wrote a 4-page letter to tell me that she’d been upset about this for a year and she just couldn’t hold it in anymore. Barb had to let me know because it was standing between us, and she wanted to clear the path of our friendship.
I read the letter and I did feel a little bit guilty. The thing I’d said had definitely had some judgment in it, but it wasn’t meant to hurt her. She’d been looking to get a job on a television show that I thought was a low-brow, low quality show and I believed she could do better.
In reading her letter, it was clear that she could never have been upset if she hadn’t had the same judgment about herself and that she could do better.
I wrote Barb my own 4-page letter telling her how much I loved her and letting her know I had no intention to hurt her feelings. I apologized. I let her know how important her feelings were to me.
Then, because I could feel that I definitely did have some ego reaction going on, I called up my dear friend Judy and asked her if I could read Barb’s letter and my letter and see what she thought. I wished to get a second opinion before I sent my letter off.
Judy listened patiently as I read the two long letters. At the end of it she said, “That’s really good. It’s a beautiful letter. And that’s exactly what I’d do, Jenn, but you’re better than that. You have the courage to pick up the phone and call Barb, and that would be so much more effective.”
WOW! What a brilliant idea!
I knew immediately she was right. I did have that courage. And it would be much more loving. It would show that I really cared and was coming from the heart.
In truth, I’d written the letter to defend myself. I knew it, deep down. I couldn’t fool myself. That’s why I called Judy and read her the two letters. I knew that something wasn’t really right and I didn’t want to respond to Barb with something less than wholly loving. I’m so glad I followed my guidance!
I still felt a little bit of resistance to calling Barb, because I believed there was a possibility that Barb would yell, and then blame and shame me.
And I knew that those feelings of trepidation came from my own sense of unworthiness that was coming up for healing.
I knew I had to put Love first and TRUST Love. So I called Barb, left a voicemail and asked if we could make a plan to see each other and talk. I made sure to say that I was so glad she’d written to me, because I would’ve had no way to know that she’d been offended and I definitely didn’t intend to hurt her feelings by my comments.
Barb and I got together and we cleared the air. In our meeting, I found out that she really didn’t want to take responsibility for her feelings and that she really was judging herself, and I’d just brought it to her attention. She didn’t say any of that directly, but it was clear.
My friendship was confrontative to her about where she might be judging herself and making decisions based on that, and she wasn’t interested in that. We had a very civil and loving conversation. I’m so glad we saw each other, but I realized that continuing our friendship was mostly up to her.
That was a time when I was learning that I do activate people’s unhealed stuff. And they activate mine.
And together we can have a healing or we can revisit an old wound.
Some people aren’t done with the old wound yet, and they don’t wish to look at their stuff – and that’s what I do. I would rather look at it, heal it, and move on. I’ve had a number of relationships fall away because people aren’t interested in that, and I’ve learned to respect their choice.
And maybe some people don’t wish to do their inner work at the pace I’m doing mine. Some would like to go faster and some would like to go slower, and that’s perfectly good.
It’s always a choice between the new Heaven and the new Earth or the old hell revisited.
Of course, I understand that in the actual moment of the “insult” Barb didn’t feel comfortable saying something to me. And in the times I’d seen her since then, she hadn’t felt comfortable, either, so she wrote her letter to say how she felt – and to blame me for how she felt. The letter was also to defend herself (which she’d probably been doing for a year in her mind) and maybe to get even.
And, you know what? I can handle all of that. People do act in all kinds of crazy, egotistical ways and so do I. And we’re here to help each other with it and not judge them (or ourselves) for it. We’re here to have compassion for them when they’re believing the stinking thinking.
When we have compassion for them at that precise moment that they’re most believing the made-up story of the past, that’s when they can have a healing and we can, too.
Our compassion heals us both. That’s why A Course in Miracles tells us that our brother is our savior. They call us into our loving hearts.
We’re here to answer that call.
Barb blamed me for her feelings, even though she knew I had zero INTENTION to hurt or insult her. She’d been hurt and insulted by her own interpretation, and she was projecting it on me.
And don’t we all do that, so often?
We can go the other way.
We can turn the pain into fertilizer. That’s what I did with Spirit’s help, in the form of Judy advising me to call Barb rather than send my letter. I had a true healing because of Judy. I never saw Barb or heard from her again, and so I don’t know what happened with her. But I can tell you, if she called me today I’d be thrilled to hear from her.
Life is perfect. Always.
There are no mistakes. Only mis-takes. Misperceptions and misinterpretations.
Every unloving choice leads to a learning, if we allow it.
Allowing, being willing, that’s the key.
All too often we fall asleep at the wheel. We forget where we’re going and we become VERY side-tracked. In ACIM, Jesus tells us we’re “far too tolerant of mind-wandering.” We can wander in the desert for 40 years if we aren’t paying attention, but even if we do, we’ll learn something exquisite from it that we can share with others and bless the whole world.
To learn anything at all, in any way, is a blessing! Let us receive our blessings!
And let us decide not judge ourselves as slow learners. Forgiveness is the way.
It takes tremendous willingness not to be distracted and to stay focused on what’s most important. It takes cultivating a real, deep, and abiding Self-Love not to be side-tracked with blame, shame, and judgment.
This is what I’m all about, keeping us on track. It’s not easy, but there’s nothing more worthwhile.
Some of the best help comes in the most difficult ways. And IF we’re willing to grow through it, rather than resist the whole way, it doesn’t have to be painful.
In A Course in Miracles Workbook Lesson 190 we’re told:
“Pain is a wrong perspective. When it is experienced in any form, it is a proof of self-deception. It is not a fact at all. There is no form it takes that will not disappear if seen aright.”
We forget that, don’t we?
Or maybe we don’t believe it.
Because not one of us just wants to suffer, do we?
I’m kidding, of course! Many are actively choosing to suffer. The ego mindset is that we can suffer to inflict guilt on others. VERY often, our suffering is intended to inflict guilt on others or to get sympathy from them.
Instead of just having a loving relationship, we manipulate each other with pain and suffering through guilt, blame, and shame. Resentment is like a crowbar – we can use it to threaten and to move people.
When we’re disconnected from our loving heart, we use pain to manipulate and control because we feel it’s the only power we have. This is something I did a lot of personal research on. It was my “go to” form of relating to other people. It’s debilitating and pushes people away.
And that’s what I secretly wanted to do: push everyone away. They were bringing up my stuff for healing and I was resisting it.
Then we feel alone. But it makes sense to us because we feel unworthy. It seems to prove what we believe, but all it proves is that we believe we’re unworthy of Love.
And that’s the nature of the habit of taking offense.
It blocks Love, it makes the lack of Love seem real.
No matter what, all are worthy of Love and compassion.
We must never forget that, because it is our way out of the hell of this world.
There is no OTHER way out of hell.
Love and compassion are the ONLY way,
because it’s lack of Love,
being expressed by us,
that causes the feeling of hell.
All are worthy of Love.
How can we fulfill our purpose, which is to be “truly helpful” and withhold Love or punish people for their missteps? Those patters of behavior and thought cannot succeed. The ends is in the means.
I record a new prayer every day. I’ve been doing that for 13 years. Let’s pray to be willing to live a miraculous life. Prayer is so powerful, please join me in my daily Prayer for Today – today’s prayer is for Healing All Grievances. You can click and listen now. We use technology to transcend time and space and deepen our spiritual practice.
I am grateful for this path of healing that we’re on and our ability to cultivate a spiritual practice that lifts us up above the battleground! Onward and upward, together we rise in Love!