Love Holds No Grievances
by Barbara Brown Allen
Imagine we are in the lounge area of an up-scale restaurant in southern California. It is dark; lights are dimmed and table candles are glowing. The patrons are sitting around the tables or at the bar, drinking and smoking. Sitting at the bar, you face a wall of mirrors lined with shelves of whiskies, brandies, and colored liqueurs. The lounge opens every morning of the year at 7 a.m., and about 30 people gather daily. I come here every morning to meet these people. The booze is corked, and the people are drinking coffee, a lot of coffee. It might seem a little odd for these people to meet every day in a bar and drink only coffee, but this is a daily meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is where we tell each other our stories – what it used to be like, what happened, and what we are like now – and in so doing, help ourselves and others to get sober and stay sober.
I will call him “Jim C.” This is not his real name. AA teaches us that “anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,” and that what we hear at a meeting and whom we see at a meeting stays at the meeting. But Jim C. was an old-timer who violated our tradition of anonymity again and again. He thought nothing of mentioning a fellow AA’s last name, or revealing where a member worked, or what s/he did for a living. And he would tell us who said what at other meetings. One time, a group of us went out for breakfast after the meeting, and Jim C. announced that our waitress was “one of us.” I questioned him about violating this tradition, but his answer was a little laugh along with, “Everyone already knows anyway.”
As Jim C. continued to betray the anonymity of AA members, I began to develop a resentment against him to the point that I could not stay in the room when he shared. I would leave the meeting angry, and I would not speak to him. Then one day, I surprised myself. Rather than leave the room when Jim C. shared, I began to pray – for him! I prayed for his highest good. I prayed for his highest good every day, day after day for months. And on Easter Sunday, in front of everyone, he came to me with a little stuffed bunny, all pink and white, and said, “This is for you. Happy Easter.” And he threw his arms around me, hugged me, kissed me on the cheek, and said, “You know I love you.”
What do you do when someone says, “I love you?” What can you say when a call to love is heard? With tears streaming down my face, all I could say was, “I love you, too, Jim.” And then, I was suddenly aware of the words from A Course in Miracles, Lessons 68 and 69:”Love holds no grievances. I would wake to myself, by laying all my grievances aside, and wakening in Him. My grievances hide the light of the world in me, I cannot see what I have hidden.”
My grievance, my resentment against my friend, which seemed to have separated us, was gone. I had hidden my own light. “This little light of mine” was shining again. I had answered the call to love by praying for Jim C’s highest good. As Jim C. and I resumed our friendship, I learned that I could not resent someone and pray for that person at the same time. Love takes over. I developed a new appreciation for Jim C. without any expectation of how he should behave – the miracle of Love replaced my grievance, and Jim C remained my friend until the day he died.