Only What You Have Not Given Can Be Lacking

“Only what you have not given can be lacking in any situation.” (T-17.VII.4)

This quote is from the Text of A Course in Miracles. In context, it is about Helen Schucman’s and Bill Thetford’s faith in their Holy Relationship. They were being told not to blame the other when they lost sight of the Holiness of their relationship. The Vision of the Holy Relationship was within each. It did not come to each from the other. So if one did not see Holiness in the other the problem with within them, not in the other.

This is, of course, a central lesson in ACIM. The issue is always within you. I often use this quote with clients in a slightly different context. They will share with me that they are not getting something from a relationship. Often they will take this idea and feel that if they just gave enough forgiveness or love the other would change. But I ask them if they are giving themselves, through the relationship, what they want from the other. For example, if they are in a relationship with someone who is emotionally withholding, are they loving themselves by being in the relationship? If they feel disrespected, are they respecting themselves by being in that relationship? Your relationship with others is your relationship with yourself.

If we cannot accept love we may take two approaches in relationships: We don’t see the love being offered by another. Or we get involved with others who cannot love us as we want to be loved. If you feel you are not getting something from a relationship that you want, first ask if the other is attempting to give you what you want. If they are, then you have to work on letting in what they offer. But if they are not, you have to ask yourself why you are with them. Do you value other things more in the relationship? Does what you are getting outweigh what you are not getting? Are you asking for more than that person can give and can you get that need met elsewhere? Or have you outgrown that person and is it time to move on?

In short, look at what you are not getting and ask yourself if you are giving it to yourself.

Sorting out relationship questions is one of the things I help my clients with. If you are having problems in a relationship and would like help sorting out your part in it, email me at to set up an appointment. Learn more at

If you have a question the answer to which you think will help others email it to me at and indicate that you want it answered in the newsletter/blog.


will said…
For whatever it's worth, this is a difficult thing to understand. I feel like it is really important but... "Your relationship with others is your relationship with yourself; ask if you are giving it to yourself."
Frank C said…
Yes, this is a complicated (and, often confusing) subject. When I look at this interpretation of the text, I have to ask myself how to measure this: "We don’t see the love being offered by another"... do we not see it (the love being offered) because we are blinded by ego-based expectations and judgements? Do we feel our (ego) needs aren't being met by the other person? And, if we feel that those "needs" aren't being met, is it the other person's fault (either because they haven't met my imagined "rules", or they don't really love me anyway), or maybe it's my "fault" (since no one in a body can ever furnish the love I'm looking for "out there")?.

To me, whenever I try to justify or measure ego/body/personality "love", I find there is no way to rationalize or "understand" it other than to say it is all part of the error of thinking I'm in a body and separate from the other person. Once I remember that, and use the pain of the situation as a wake up call, and remember to turn it over to the Holy Spirit/Jesus, then everything starts mellowing out, and I return to a state of peace and "true love".

IMHO, there is no such thing as LOVE in this world... there are only reminders of the fact that the only "place" we will ever find IT is inside ourselves when we return to our TRUE SELF, as the ONE MIND of GOD... period!
Frank C love, LOVE is in this world. ACIM is about removing the blocks to LOVE'S presence. Liz, is this what you found to be True?
ACIM Mentor said…
Cairn, I have found Love to be present within, always. In the world, one may come from an awareness of Love or not.
Deb said…
Once the valuing of the need to please and the need to fix and rescue had fallen away, so too did many relationships. Being shown the importance of Self respect, I moved on from those that did not reflect this. With peace of mind being the goal, I had to even look at the relationship with money and possessions.

The Love I see reflected now is within. Sure my three dogs are great "reflectors" of Presence and I enjoy extending love to them, and so mostly now it seems that any emotional need gets met by Grace in the flow which many times from this blog, and other mighty companions placed on my path.
Unknown said…
Only what you have not given (to yourself)can be lacking in any situation.
What an amazing difference this blog has made to my understanding. I too, was one who was misinterpreting the meaning of this.. I too, believed if I forgave and loved enough where it was lacking that I would receive both forgiveness and love. But this is not the case. It cannot be the case. If the world is truly a reflection then I'm giving from the wrong premise that the situation is lacking. The lacking is in me. So give to me. Tons and tons of forgiveness and love, unlimited even. The world will then and can only then reflect back my own awareness of forgiveness and love. Oh this is gonna be a Beautiful Day! Thank you Liz. hahahha I had it backwards till now!
Aleta said…
Deb's comment resonated with me: With peace of mind being the goal, I had to even look at the relationship with money and possessions.
Certain situations are causing me to realize that I value the things of this world, and money, more than I thought I had, being a Course student for 10 years now! I just sometimes think I'll never get to true peace of mind, the peace that is there regardless of what the world dishes out.
hannah said…
oh!! this 'model' applies even when you are simply looking at your relationship with yourself. i mean.. purely looking at the decision makers relationship with the ego and holy spirit in your mind.

after some writing and reflection this morning, i experienced a miracle of forgiveness! its a kinda embarrassing story, but i feel to share it anyway!

i had an awful day yesterday, i was feeling deeply depressed and all i wanted was to go to sleep and not have to be with my own mind. i was verging on/playing round the edges of physical self harm. a few days ago i had written to liz about how i was surprised by my new found capacity to accept what is, so finding myself so soon in such a deep non-acceptance was really uncomfortable, added to the dynamic of guilt, fear, avoidance/denial, impatience and anger already at play in my mind. by the end of the day i had slept a lot, and was having trouble sleeping again, and i became really irrational and rageful. in the end though, i listened to HS, acted on my kind suggestions, and fell asleep very quickly and had a better nights sleep than i have had in weeks.

but it wasnt until this morning that i really recognised what i was refusing to give to myself yesterday (bottom line: loving presence and listening). how it presented in my mind was that it was like an unhealthy parent/child relationship. it was like the self and its body were both a needy, demanding child, AND an exhausted, impatient parent, both in fear and mistrust and trying to control both now, and outcomes to feel ok/safe. and these two aspects were in a constant play of power, to have things 'just so' and it was like.. those 'voices of fear and lack' were projecting their own demanding nature onto the quiet, practical voice that WAS listening and making suggestions as to how i could relax, calm down, let love 'in' and sleep or not!

as soon as i saw that this morning, i felt the most glorious letting go of guilt and blame! (for myself, then my dad, and it flowed from there). i saw calls for love, not expressions of hate. i WAS listening and present, yesterday, just not to the voice for love. everyone is just projecting this inner struggle for power (lack fulfilment) outside of their mind, onto the world and people around them! of COURSE we do that if we believe that what we actually are is lacking and feel guilty for thinking we chose to split wholeness/love apart! and i can only respond with other than love, if IM believing it also!

ACIM Mentor said…
Great breakthrough, Hannah. From the pits to letting in the miracle.
nicci said…
thank you so much for sharing your miracle Hannah. it was helpful. endless Love, n

Popular posts from this blog

The Grand Tour of Fear

You Don't Have to Go It Alone

Understanding the Ego Backlash