What am I going to do with the rest of my life? What am I going to do today? I have some choices. Don’t we all? Actually, we all have the same decision to make in each moment – which teacher do I serve? Once I have chosen the right Teacher, I need to let Him handle the details.
Everything that is happening to me is a reflection of my thoughts. I have no neutral thoughts. Each thought is either one I share with the Mind of God – or – it is an ego thought I made up. Recognizing this difference, then stepping back to let Spirit take charge, is the forgiveness process that I have been taught by A Course in Miracles. This is my only function while living in this world that I made up with my ego thoughts. Nothing I see with my body’s eyes is real.
Now believing all this to be true, it is important for me to keep practicing. My mistakes always provide the opportunity to “choose again.” My life circumstances make up my personal curriculum.
I started studying A Course in Miracles in 1994 – the year of my legal separation from my first marriage of 19 years. I considered myself an agnostic from shortly after my Protestant confirmation at age 13 until the time I picked up ACIM at age 43.
A friend first offered me the voice of an inspirational speaker. He handed me an audiotape of Marianne Williamson reading her book, A Return to Love, where she spoke of the spiritual concepts contained in A Course in Miracles. Inexplicably, this led to my continuing devotion to studying this spiritual path for the past 18 years. As we know, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”
The power of forgiveness was clearly experienced by me for the first time during the breakup of my first marriage. By the standards of this world, I had been betrayed and deceived. I did not realize it at the time, but I was learning an entirely new thought system with A Course in Miracles. I was learning about true forgiveness.
By the time I became aware of the true circumstances that led to my divorce, I had embraced the Course concepts, “I am not the victim of the world I see.” (FIP.WkBk.31) and “Love holds no grievances.” (FIP.WkBk.68) My willingness to forgive allowed me to move on with my life without anger. These affirmations, and other Course axioms, would further strengthen me for the personal challenges that still were ahead.
Divorce is a tough event for anyone to handle, but watching my mother deteriorate mentally seemed equally difficult. My mother, Phyllie, was always the rock of our family. She was always the classiest, coolest, strongest, most beautiful, and fun loving woman. I hit the winning lottery ticket when I received this woman for a mother. But dementia/Alzheimer’s, in her early 80s, robbed her of all mental and emotional strength. She became terrified. Her entire personality had changed from the illness and it was heartbreaking.
At the same time that I watched her descend into the deep fear and confusion of this debilitating disease her favorite grandson, my son Kevin, fell into the abyss of opiate addiction. Our impressive student athlete had become a faltering junkie. He was in denial, resistant to treatment and a plan of recovery.
Both of these situations required my full attention and were sources of much frustration. My mom’s dementia never seemed within my ability to alleviate and was often gut-wrenching to observe. My son’s addiction needed to be fixed immediately – and by me – or so I thought.
Both of these diseases – dementia and opiate addiction – were serving as my personal curriculum for learning forgiveness and non-judgment. Life’s most difficult problems serve to strengthen us if we meet them with Holy Spirit – our Higher Power – our true Self. Following Spirit’s advice was not easy, but if you stay with Him there is nothing that He won’t handle for you.
My mom’s physical death seemed truly merciful because of the terror she felt as her dementia progressed. Kevin’s fatal overdose, however, appeared as such a waste of human potential. He had been a Division 1 athlete on a scholarship to a major university. It was a great tragedy for our community and all his loved ones, including his four-month old daughter, Olivia. A Course in Miracles teaches me that both stories were illusions. The only part that was real is the love I feel for them – the love I receive and extend.
My only function is to learn forgiveness while I continue to dream this whole story. Drug addicts can be hard to love if not seen though Spirit’s eyes. Addicts steal, lie, and manipulate the people they love with a narcissistic indifference as to who gets hurt. It takes a trained mind – a healed mind – to see an addict’s behavior as a call for love. It is even tougher to see it all as a projection of my own ego-based thoughts. But A Course in Miracles encourages me to do exactly that.
Spirit’s consistent advice was to love Kevin anyway. Neither enable him nor judge him. It is necessary to forgive him. He is a projection of my own unconscious guilt. I was told to see him as an innocent Child of God. But when one looks through the ego’s eyes, he sees fear, anger, shame, and guilt. Often, the fear gripped me, and I reacted badly to it. Those times I regret. And I forgive myself for it.
“Forgiveness is the key to happiness.” (FIP.WkBk.121) Through true forgiveness the strength comes to handle the tragedies such as Kevin’s death. I turned to my Higher Power consistently throughout his seven year cycle of addiction, recovery, and relapse. I wrote my contemplations with Spirit down in my journal throughout those years. His advice was always to love Kevin despite his behavior. I didn’t always listen, and my suffering increased. Workbook Lesson 259 says, “Let me remember that there is no sin.” (FIP.WkBk.259) I was reminded by Holy Spirit that only the Love is real. My strength has increased from the repetitive study of these powerful beliefs.
I am convinced now that Kevin was meant to mir his life as he did, for his 27 years, and pass on. Letting go of the story, and keeping only the love, is the path that I have been trained to follow. The love that I have received from so many has enabled me to reach out to help others. My book, Forgiving Kevin, is the tool Holy Spirit guided me to use.
I don’t need to figure out how I am going to help people. If I am willing to serve God I will be directed by my Higher Power. I just need to follow. I have been taught, “A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it.” (FIP.Wk.135.11)
So I need to let go and let God – to let Holy Spirit handle all the details. I can let go and be carried. There is no need for me to do the heavy lifting. I am encouraged to give all of it to Him.
When I retired after 36 years as a high school history teacher and athletic coach, Holy Spirit guided me to write a book about the struggles while Kevin was amir and in recovery. I thought it would be a feel good success story about the All-American boy who beat the cravings of heroin addiction. I had put Holy Spirit in charge of the book when I started it. Spirit must have known the story would turn out to be different than my plan.
I let Kevin read the early chapters of the book – sending them by email attachments to him in Iowa. Kevin had gone to Iowa for rehab and stayed there with his cousins to avoid all the triggers for relapse in New York. Referring to the chapters he said, “Maybe it’s because it’s about me, but I really think it’s good.” I find this remarkable now, because I did not know at the time that he had already relapsed on heroin.
His girlfriend, Melanie, and he were expecting the birth of their unplanned child. When Melanie informed me of his relapse, I flew out to Iowa to try to get him to return to rehab. He denied his problem and refused to get help. With Melanie’s help we administered a “civil committal” and had police pick him up at work and take him directly to rehab. This battle to get Kevin clean was more than seven years old now.
Somehow Kevin was released from rehab after a few days. His daughter, Olivia, was born a month later. Four months later Kevin was gone.
Kevin and I had often spoken of the good work he could do as an addict in recovery. Maybe he realized that this book I was writing could do that for others. I am certain that he would want his story told if it could help someone. Accepting and trusting that everything happens as it should, for the greater good, has been a challenge to my ego thought system. But I am practicing listening for Inner Guidance with diligence, and I am reaping the benefits. I do feel the experience of being carried. I am getting better at letting go.
My love for Kevin is only greater, and my connection to him is only stronger. I feel his love the same way that I feel Holy Spirit’s – as a guide to help me navigate through this dream of mine. There are still moments of great sadness, I admit. But they don’t last. I allow myself to cry while I ride my bike alone on the boardwalk along the oceanfront near my home. The beach is a magnificent setting and a wonderful place for reflection.
During the sad times I sometimes hear Kevin’s voice with its sarcastic New York accent say, “Come on, Dad. You know better. None of that story was real. After all you’ve learned, you can’t stay in the darkness. Only the love is real. Lose the crying bit. That’s not for you. Okay?”
It makes me smile, even laugh a bit, because Kevin wasn’t exactly known for his wisdom. But I feel him allied with my Higher Power now. I was promised by this Divine Guidance, throughout his long ordeal with drugs, that I would not be left comfortless regardless of the outcome.
That promise has been fulfilled. I am able to feel Kevin’s love, and Holy Spirit’s love, with greater intensity than before. I have been more non-judgmental concerning the events leading to and following his overdose. I have forgiven myself and others for being unsuccessful in changing the results. I have received a great amount of love and have been spiritually strengthened from it all. I am now ready to serve as Holy Spirit sees fit.
If Kevin’s story is to help others, Holy Spirit must handle all the details. My function is to let Him. I am certain His plan will be carried out. I trust the process, and I am grateful to feel so much love. Y
Rev. Larry Glenz can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to www.forgivingkevin.com.
c/o Community Miracles Center
2269 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
This article appeared in the March 2012 (Vol. 26 No.1) issue of Miracles Monthly. Miracles Monthly is published by Community Miracles Center in San Francisco, CA. CMC is supported solely by people just like you who: become CMC Supporting Members,Give Donations and Purchase Books and Products through us.