All relationships have a purpose in our lives; accessing that purpose requires understanding the voices, and forces, of love and ego
According to A Course in Miracles, relationships are spiritual assignments in which the Holy Spirit brings together those who have the maximal opportunity for soul growth. It should be no surprise to us, then, that relationships are not always easy. They’re magnifying glasses through which we can view what does and does not work in how we’re relating to other people. Every situation in life is a relationship in which we — and often those around us — can see exactly where we are free to love, and where we are bound by fear.
While the ego would argue that there’s a different kind of love for different kinds of relationship, the spiritual basics of relationship are the same no matter what form a relationship takes. Whether you’re my business acquaintance or a family member, the issue is this: Am I meeting you on the level of my personality, or am I extending to you the gift of my love? Am I here to judge you, or forgive you? The answers will determine what happens next.
The ego sees other people from a transactional perspective, looking for how others can serve our needs. The spirit sees other people from a relational perspective, seeking for ways that together we can serve love.
To the ego, relationships are fear-laden traps; to the spirit, they are holy encounters.
The last thing the ego wants us to believe is that relationships form the basis of the spiritual journey. But they do. Every encounter, large or small, is an opportunity to glorify love. When I surrender a relationship to serving God’s purpose, the relationship most probably will bring me peace. If I try to use it to serve my needs as I define them, then it most probably will bring me pain.
So how do we get our needs met if our only purpose is to love? How do we set standards, get work done, have reasonable expectations, and not get taken advantage of if we see ourselves in any situation only as a miracle-worker, a channel for love, a servant of God?
The answer is, “Far more easily.” The miracle does not occur on the bodily level; it has less to do with what happens on the outside than with what happens on the inside. People can feel when they’re being blessed, and they can feel when they’re being judged. Everyone subconsciously knows everything.
If I wake up in the morning and pray for your happiness, meditate on our spiritual oneness, set my intention on being a representative of love in your life today, surrender all temptation to control you or judge you, then you will feel that. Our relationship will have a chance at being a positive experience. Otherwise, it will be everything the ego wants it to be, and you will feel that too.
The primary issue in our relationships to anything is purpose.
The ego’s purpose in a relationship is to withhold love, while the spirit’s purpose is to extend it. The ego sees the world as something to serve it, while the spirit sees the world as something for us to serve.
How many times have you been asked, “What are you looking for in a relationship?” rather than, “What is the greatest gift you feel you can bring to a relationship?” How many times has something asked you in reference to a relationship, “Are you really getting what you need?” as opposed to, “Are you really giving all you have?” A Course in Miracles says that the only thing lacking in any situation is what we’re not giving. It’s amazing how often we’re counting up someone else’s demerits, while hardly giving any attention to our own. The wily, insidious ego calls this self-care.
The ego sees every relationship as a chance to monitor another person’s spiritual progress, but never our own. The ego is like a scavenger dog seeking any possible evidence of another’s guilt, that we might attack, judge, criticize, and blame him or her. Its ultimate purpose is not to hurt the other, however, as much as it is to hurt us.
The ego never sees a reason to be satisfied with someone. It slyly tempts us to the thoughts and behavior that would keep love at bay, even while protesting that we want it desperately. “The only reason I want you to be different is because I love you!” According to A Course in Miracles, the ego’s dictate is “seek but do not find.”
In a world where fear dominates the consciousness of the human race, it takes conscious practice to develop the emotional musculature of love.
But boy is this hard when someone pushes all our buttons and triggers all our wounds. We can be all lovely and enlightened in the morning, and crazed with anger by noon.
And then, unfortunately, we’re off to the races. Some of the biggest judgments we make, the most pernicious attacks are made before we can even have a chance to think. We send a reactive text or email. We say things we later regret having said. We make decisions that only in retrospect we see as having been self-sabotaging.
This is why spiritual practice is so important. The most powerful tool for success in life, in any area, including relationships, is that our minds be channels for right thinking. And for this, they must be trained.
We do weight-bearing exercises to train our physical muscles, and spiritual exercises to train our attitudinal muscles. The first give us the power to physically move, and the second give us the power to remain internally still. One empowers us externally, and one empowers us internally. And both take effort.
It’s extremely helpful to spend time each morning, even if only for five minutes, using whatever meditation or prayer technique you relate to, to train your attitudinal muscles to think with love. At the beginning of each day, before you meet or interact with anyone, consciously and proactively send your love before you. Then, say to yourself silently as you look at others throughout the day, “The love in me salutes the love in you.” To any situation, surrender to God whatever judgments you bring with you. This kind of practice will give you more than peace; it will work miracles in your life. There’s no room for darkness in a house that is filled with light and there’s no room for fear in a mind that is filled with love. The key to attracting, maintaining, and healing relationships is to fill our minds with light — surrendering ourselves to be used by God, that we might become a blessing on everyone we meet.
Consider affirming these truths each day:
- I don’t need anyone else to make me whole; as a creation of God, I am whole already. I go into the world today to share with everyone I meet the abundant truth of who I really am.
- My function on earth is to love, to forgive, and to bless. Every person I will meet today is an opportunity for me to act as love’s representative on earth.
- What I give to others, I give to myself. What I withhold from others, I withhold from myself. Everyone I meet today provides me with an opportunity to increase my joy by bringing greater joy to others.
As it says in A Course in Miracles, “prayer is the medium of miracles.” Consider it one of the greatest powers in the miracle-worker’s tool kit.
Please make my life
A sacred place
Not only for me,
But for those I meet.
May everyone who enters my life
And may I be blessed by them.
Send to me those
With whom I am meant to grow.
Show us how to love each other
In ways that serve You best.
[This is an excerpt from Marianne’s latest book, Tears To Triumph, published by HarperOne]
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