"I can give up but what was never real."
I cannot give up anything real: "As You created me, I can give up nothing You gave me" (2:3). The whole idea of sacrifice is alien to God and to the thought system of the Course. Oh, we are asked to give up things! The Course even asks us to give up the entire world--but "not to sacrifice" (T-30.V.9:4-5). The whole point of this lesson is quite simple. It is that nothing that I can give up was ever real in the first place. "I sacrifice illusions; nothing more" (1:1).
I remember once in a relationship in which I wanted marriage, and the lady in question did not, that I felt as if I were losing and sacrificing something by letting go of my dream. Then I realized that I was only giving up something I never had in the first place. It brought home with vivid force the familiar "wall plaque" saying that runs something like this: "If you love something, let it go. If it returns to you then it was truly yours, and if it does not, it was never yours at all." In that circumstance I was able to give up the illusion, and in so doing, retain the reality of a profoundly loving relationship that was not meant to end in marriage, a relationship that lasted for years and brought me more true satisfaction than any marriage relationship I ever saw among my friends.
The illusions we hold on to are hiding the true gifts of God. The idea that we can find our happiness in a romantic relationship, for instance, is one of the ego's substitutes for the reality of our relationship with God and with all living things. A close, loving relationship is a wonderful thing, but it can be an obstacle to our peace if we make an idol of it, expecting it to give us everything, or insisting that we know the form it must take to please us.
"And as illusions go I find the gifts illusions tried to hide, awaiting me in shining welcome, and in readiness to give God's ancient messages to me" (1:2). We not only lose nothing in giving up illusions; we actually gain the reality of what the illusions were substituting for. This is a win-win situation!
The fear of sacrifice and loss is one of the greatest obstacles to our spiritual progress. And as long as we think we are losing something real, we will drag our feet. "If this [relinquishment] is interpreted as giving up the desirable, it will engender enormous conflict. Few teachers of God escape this distress entirely" (M-4.I(A).5:2, 3). The idea of sacrifice makes it impossible for us to make sensible judgments about what we do and do not want. That is why it is so important for us to refer all our decisions to the Holy Spirit. And when we do, often it will seem to us as if we are being asked to sacrifice something we value. What we do not realize is that the Holy Spirit is only teaching us that we do not really want what we think we want; He is only clarifying the intentions of our own right mind, which already knows there is no value in what we have been holding on to.
"And every dream serves only to conceal the Self Which is God's only Son..." (1:4). The gift behind every dream is the memory of Who I really am. Attachment to the ego's "gifts" only serves to diminish my awareness of that Self. I am asking, not for too much, but for far too little. These gifts are not worthy of my Self. What God did not give has no reality (2:4). And so, today, let us give up every thought that anticipates any kind of loss, and recognize that, as God's Sons, we cannot lose.
"What loss can I anticipate except the loss of fear, and the return of love into my mind?" (2:5)
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