Longer: every hour on the hour; 5 minutes
* Say: "God's Will for me is perfect happiness. There is no sin; it has no consequence."
* Then try again to find the happiness in you, the joy these thoughts will bring to your mind. Turn to God's Will in the confidence it will free you from all the imagined consequences of sin.
Shorter: as often as you can
Repeat: "God's Will for me is perfect happiness. This is the truth, because there is no sin."
Haven't you ever noticed that? Somehow it just does not feel right or safe to be "too" happy, or to be happy "too much." We have this weird feeling that if we are "overly" happy something really bad will happen to us. The common saying, "This is too good to last," is just one obvious example of the syndrome. Sondra Ray's Loving Relationships Training used to ask the question, "How good can you stand it?" Interesting question.
Or, we may feel guilty about being happy when a friend is sad or upset for some reason; we feel obligated to join them in their misery. And the idea that we could be happy all the time just seems too ridiculous to consider. We think misery is a natural part of being alive. Maybe we even thought, with Carly Simon, that "Suffering was the only thing made me feel I was alive." (Listen to her song, "I haven't got time for the pain," with ACIM ears. Wow!) We thought we needed it. We never realize that all of these ideas are directly traceable to our belief in sin and punishment. We don't realize that we are actively choosing our unhappiness.
There is no need for penance. There is no price to pay for sin, because there is no sin. Some of us, reading this, will at once think that these ideas are dangerous; if there is no price to pay for sin, then sinners will go wild. Punishment is necessary to control evil, we think. Within the world in which the illusion of bodies seems real, control is sometimes necessary, although perhaps far less often than we think. But debate over how to apply these ideas to social misbehavior (i.e. crime) could distract us for months; this is not the real issue here. We believe it is God Who demands payment for the wrongs we have done to Him. What if we have not done Him any wrong? What if our "sins" are no more to Him than a gnat biting an elephant, affecting Him not at all?
How can I be happy if I believe God is angry at me? How can I be attracted to a salvation that comes through pain, killing me slowly, draining the life from me until I am skin and bones (metaphorically speaking)? Hell is not salvation! It is not a God of love Who would demand such things of us. God is not angry; His Will for me is perfect happiness. If sin is real, punishment is real, and if punishment is real I have every reason to flee from God. That is exactly why the ego promotes such a view of God. "There is no sin," says the lesson, and urges us to "practice with this thought as often as we can today."
What about justice? "Joy is just" (6:2). That is what justice is: joy!
When I think on these ideas I often come down to a very simple application, one that comes up for me almost every day. Whenever I do something I don't approve of, or fail to do something I think I should have done, or find myself thinking judgmental thoughts about someone, I often catch myself thinking that I have to go through a decent period of remorse before I can be happy again. Just because I've realized my mistake and decided to change my mind can't possibly be enough to merit being happy again, can it? Don't I have to "pay for my sin" somehow? Maybe, at the least, spend ten minutes in meditation? What utter nonsense!
And yet, the idea keeps coming up. It shows me that I have not rid my mind of this sin-and-punishment idea, that I still think that somehow I have to even the account with God before I can be happy again. What God wants, what God wills for me in that instant and in every instant, is happiness. "Obey God" means "be happy." It means let go of my self-important penitence and rejoice in the love of God. It means accepting the Atonement for myself. What better way to "renounce sin" than to stop letting it drag me down into snivelling self-abasement, to refuse to acknowledge its power to keep me from happiness?
May I, today, refuse to lay the load of guilt on myself. May I lift up my head, smile, and give God glory by the simple act of being happy. The greatest gift I can give to those around me is my happiness.
"God's Will for me is perfect happiness. This is the truth, because there is no sin."
Copyright © 1996, The Circle of Atonement, Sedona,
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