Be Inspired. Be Empowered. Be Transformed.
A RETURN TO LOVE
“Therefore, the plan includes very specific contacts to be made for every teacher of God.”
Relationships are assignments. They are part of a vast plan for our enlightenment, the Holy Spirit’s blueprint by which each individual soul is led to greater awareness and expanded love. Relationships are the Holy Spirit’s laboratories in which He brings together people who have the maximal opportunity for mutual growth. He appraises who can learn most from whom at any given time, and then assigns them to each other. Like a giant universal computer, He knows exactly what combination of energies, in exactly what context, would do the most to further God’s plan for salvation. No meetings are accidental. “Those who are to meet will meet, because together they have the potential for a holy relationship.”
The Course says that there are three levels of teaching in relationship. The first level is what we think of as a casual encounter, such as two strangers meeting in a elevator or students who “happen” to walk home from school together. The second level is a “more sustained relationship, in which, for a time, two people enter into a fairly intense teaching-learning situation and then appear to separate.” The third level of teaching is a relationship which, once formed, lasts all our lives. At this level, “each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning.”
Even at the first level of teaching, the people in the elevator might smile at one another or the students might become friends. It is mostly in casual encounters that we are given a chance to practice the fine art of chiseling away the hard edges of our personalities. Whatever personal weaknesses are evident in our casual interactions will inevitably appear magnified in more intense relationships. If we’re crabby with the bank teller, it will be harder to be gentle with the people we love the most.
At the second level of teaching, people are brought together for more intense work. During their time together, they will go through whatever experiences provide them with their next lessons to be learned. When physical proximity no longer supports the highest level of teaching and learning between them, the assignments will call for physical separation. What then appears to be the end of the relationship however, is not really an end. Relationships are eternal. They are of the mind, not the body, since people are energy, not physical substance. Bodies joining may or may not denote real joining, since joining is of the mind. People who have slept in the same bed for twenty-five years may not be truly joined, and people who are many miles apart may not be separate at all.
Often we see a couple who has separated or divorced and look with sadness at the “failure” of their relationship. But if both people learned what they were meant to learn, then that relationship was a success. Now it may be time for physical separation so that more can be learned in other ways. That not only means learning elsewhere, from other people; it also means learning the lessons of pure love that come from having to release the form of an existing relationship.
Third-level, life-long relationships are generally few because “their existence implies that those involved have reached a stage simultaneously in which the teaching learning balance is actually perfect.” That doesn’t mean, however, that we necessarily recognize our third-level assignments; in fact, generally we don’t. We may even feel hostility toward these particular people. Someone with whom we have a lifetime’s worth of lessons to learn is someone whose presence in our lives forces us to grow. Sometimes it represents someone with whom we participate lovingly all our lives, and sometimes it represents someone who we experience as a thorn in our side for years, or even forever. Just because someone has a lot to teach us, doesn’t mean we like them. People who have the most to teach us are often the ones who reflect back to us the limits to our own capacity to love, those who consciously or unconsciously challenge our fearful positions. They show us our walls. Our walls are our wounds—the places where we feel we can’t love any more, can’t connect any more deeply, can’t forgive past a certain point. We are in each other’s lives in order to help us see where we most need healing, and in order to help us heal.