As an avid listener of Marianne Williamson, she mentions in her lectures that “all relationships are assignments” and that “we will learn. Our choice is whether we learn from joy or from pain.” A Course in Miracles (Teacher’s Manual) talks about the levels of teaching.

As stated in ACIM, “the simpletest level of teaching appears to be quite superficial. It consists of what seems to be very casual encounters: a ‘chance’ meeting of two apparent strangers in an elevator, a child who is not looking where he is going running into an adult ‘by chance,’ two students ‘happening’ to walk home together. These are not chance encounters. Each of them has the potential for becoming a teaching-learning situation. Perhaps the seeming strangers in the elevator will smile to one another, perhaps the adult will not scold the child for bumping into him; perhaps the students will become friends. Even at the level of the most casual encounter, it is possible for two people to lose sight of separate interests, if only for a moment. That moment will be enough. Salvation has come.

On a Sunday morning, I went for some comfort food after church as I was particularly banged up about another incident with my “ex” (yes, that one). I walked into Dallas Bar B Q, which is one of the grossest but satisfying places to eat plus they serve these humongous drinks. I was determined to eat and drink myself to a level that would mask the feelings of sadness and anger about my “ex’s” latest in a long succession of fiascos. I sat down, feeling very sorry for myself. The server came up to me and he was HOT. Think a taller and lighter skin version of Shemar Moore. I was instantly smitten and almost forgot all about my “ex.” He took my order and proceeded to exchange minor pleasantries with him as he brought out my drink and food. As I completed my meal, he brought over the check. I noticed something written at the bottom of the check, which I was really hoping was his telephone number. What was written were two simple words, “Keep Rising.” Now, these words resonate with me as the whole concept of the Phoenix rising is one of my favorites. I called him over and asked him why he had written that. He stated that he writes that on all his checks as he wants his customers to continually keep rising; to be the best that they can be. We exchanged names (not telephone numbers as he is straight) and proceeded to talk about different metaphysical principles. I left the restaurant a different person than the one who walked in. I am grateful for this very chance encounter as it reminded me that, no matter what, KEEP RISING.

“The second level of teaching 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. As with the first level, these meetings are not accidental, nor is what appears to be the end of the relationship a real end. Again, each has learned the most he can at the time. Yet all who meet will someday meet again, for it is the destiny of all relationships to become holy. God is not mistaken in His Son.”

So this second level of teaching will involve my “ex” as it was more of a sustained relationship and for a time, it was a pretty intense teaching-learning situation and now we are separate. Now, as I have mentioned before, the particulars of what he did are not important. What is important is my role in the problems as well as the lessons learned. After about a two year of on again, off again insanity, these are the lessons that I learned: I can’t save or change anyone. No matter how cute he is or how big his penis is, no man is worth sacrificing my essential self for. Sometimes, I just need to accept reality for what it is, feel the pain, surrender and walk away. I am not responsible for other’s well-being at the cost of my own sanity. People will say whatever you want to hear to get their way. However, the most important lesson that I learned from this relationship is to be vigilant of the fact that I MATTER. This last relapse with him also showed me how my self-awareness has increased and I was able to stop myself from going down that path again. I miss him and I love him and that’s okay, but today, I love myself more. At one time, I lost myself in this “relationship.” However, maybe the lesson learned here is you have to get lost before you can be found.

“The third level of teaching occurs in relationships which, once they are formed, are lifelong. These are teaching-learning situations in which each person is given a chosen learning partner who presents him with unlimited opportunities for learning. These 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. This does not mean that they necessarily recognize this; in fact, they generally do not. They may even be quite hostile to each other for some time, and perhaps for life. Yet should they decide to learn it, the perfect lesson is before them and can be learned. And if they decide to learn that lesson, they become the saviors of the teachers who falter and may even seem to fail. No teacher of God can fail to find the Help he needs.”

So I am a very fortunate man in that I have many family and friends that I have had lifelong relationships with. I have learned so many lessons from so many of them. However, I think that the relationship that most exemplifies this level of teaching is the one with my younger sister. There were times she and I were quite hostile to each other (that’s her story to tell so I will refrain from doing so here). I really played the big brother role to her and felt that I really had nothing to learn from her and she had so much to learn from me (yes, I too am astounded by my level of hubris). About a year and a half ago, I was completing an assignment for a personal development class I was taking. I picked on her as I knew she would be responsive to my endless calls that day. To my surprise, I learned the biggest lesson anyone can ever learn, that day: self-acceptance. I was keeping things from her as I wanted to protect her for fear of her reverting back to her former ways. What I learned that day was that I was the worst judge of my own character and the fears I had of others judging me were my own projections to the world. That Saturday evening in April of 2013, I finally got what it was to accept yourself wholly and fully. That lesson was taught to me by my little sister.

I am very grateful for the lessons that I have learned and will continue to learn. I remain open and receptive to all levels of teaching, despite my ego’s attempts to tell me that I know it all.

Tags: relationships