To teach is to demonstrate. From your demonstration others learn, and so do you. M-in.2:1&3
Getting ready for school in our house can be stressful. Last minute decisions about clothing, not wanting to walk to school, running late combined with impatient parents and tired children makes for lots of learning opportunities.
One morning my ten-year old daughter angrily blurted out “I’m in a bad mood because you’re in a bad mood”. I replied smugly “you know, it doesn’t work that way!”. I was irritated and although my answer might have been metaphysically correct but it was not said with love.
Reflecting quickly with the Holy Spirit on my smart reply to my daughter, I knew I should apply it to myself. (You could even say that everything we say to others that carries with it an emotional charge, is really meant for ourselves!) I found myself realizing that I had based the cause of my annoyance on the time it took my daughter to make up her mind what coat and shoes to wear and then when I offered a suggestion, I was met with a sharp, rude reply. So I told myself “you know, it doesn’t work that way!”. Nice insight – of course it doesn’t work that way except when we want to avoid taking responsibility for our feelings!
I had based the cause of my emotion state on my daughters behaviour, despite knowing that “it doesn’t work that way!” How many times had I read in A Course in Miracles that the cause of my feelings is not related to anything but the decision I make in my mind. The model I was demonstrating to my daughter was to base her feeling on outer circumstance and then I was trying to tell her that it doesn’t work that way! Teaching is by demonstration and not by what I say. No wonder she often doesn’t do what I say if I am demonstrating something else! But at least I’m now more aware than I used to be as to when I have chosen my ego to be my inner teacher and I can quickly look at that choice with the help of the Holy Spirit. The idea is not to be a perfect father but to become perfect at forgiveness. The idea is not to not make mistakes but not to hide the mistakes or feel guilty about them.
Going deeper I saw that my daughter’s behaviour conflicted with my belief that children should not respond to their parents in that way. My irritation was seemingly justified by knowing I had told her time and time again, to allow more time to leave the house and less time doing her own things. I was not only contributing the cause of my feelings to my daughter behaviour but to the beliefs/ideals/values that her behaviour was violating. My beliefs about how children should talk to their parents and how they should act on instruction was another seeming cause of my feelings. Beliefs judgments, values and needs can always be identified when we investigate our feeling. But what is the real cause of our feelings?
The real cause of any of our personal feelings is our mind’s guilt over believing that the separation from God actually happened. The experience of guilt in our mind is beyond the intensity of any emotion that we feel in this world. Not only is the experience of guilt so intolerable and the resulting fear in our minds is so terrible that we hide in our bodies with the more tolerable feelings of guilt, anger, despair, hopelessness, anger, fear, irritation etc. Our individual psychological hell is seemingly more preferable than the horror of our mind’s experience.
On a practical level it is usually it is not usually helpful to be told that we are not upset with what someone else did or said, but because of the guilt over the separation in our minds! We are so caught up in special relationships that we need to start from where we find ourselves.
In what ACIM would call my special love relationship with my daughter, I was using her on one level to feel good about myself and keep the lid on my feelings of unworthiness. Being organized and good mannered about getting to school would make me feel good as a parent. When disorganization and rudeness crept in then the special love turned to what it really was – special hate. I tried to make her feel that she was in the wrong: the guilty one who has caused me, the innocent one to get annoyed. Obviously this is not a demonstration of love.
Forgiving our special relationships is a reflection of the atonement principle that the separation never happened. True forgiveness does not make a big deal about behaviour and looks at our mind’s beliefs with a gentleness that says they are not true.
In my mind I believe I have spoken rudely to my Father and did not follow his instructions. I turned my back on his Love and then refused to accept the instruction of the Holy Spirit in my mind that told me that nothing really happened. Once I look with Jesus at what is going on in my mind I can laugh at my beliefs and see they are not true. I can then see my beliefs in connection with my daughter in a totally different way. I can see that the idea that children should do as they are told and show respect to their parents is something that I accused myself of not doing! When I have forgiven myself why would I insist that my daughter did what she was told and make her feel guilty if she didn’t. I might be firm and give guidelines and set boundaries but nothing is imposed and no one is made to feel guilty because the instruction is not obeyed.
In my right mind I would respond with kindness and gentleness to children’s disorganized or rude behaviour. I would be supportive and firm. I would be demonstrate helpfulness without a negative reaction. When I am free I demonstrate freedom because my emotion reactions are not dependent on another’s behaviour and I have questioned all my limiting beliefs. Not taking the world seriously is a reflection of the atonement principle which says in effect “what world?”