How Much Pain Do You Want?

(The 2nd  in the Series of seven meditations based on the “You Cannot” series by Emmet Fox–see December 15, 2011 for the beginnng)

“You cannot have peace of mind, and have your ailment, too.”

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes enjoy rehearsing what is wrong in my life, sharing my physical aches and pains, the things that have gone (or are going) wrong, the hurtful things others have done. These recitations can get quite involved. I persist even when I see the eyes of my listener glaze over and their smile freeze in recognition that they are trapped and destined to listen for a while.

But such “sharing” does not change anything for the better in my life. Indeed, if I get into a routine of this, I can actually cause myself more harm, perhaps even pain.

I grew up when Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was popular (yes, this was in the last century–as I remember, Eisenhower was President). My father was very dismissive of Dr. Peale, saying he was just handing out quack medicine–people, my father said, should stop trying to sugar coat their lives with nostrums such as the “power of positive thinking,” and face the cold, hard truth of life’s pain and difficulty.

I have heard many others do the same over the years, dismissing not only Dr. Peale but also many who have followed him. It is possible to use his idea to avoid reality.

But Emmet Fox (and Dr. Peale) actually are all about reality–the one you create for yourself.

In fact, in another writing, Fox cautions people against claiming their pain as their own. Don’t, he says, speak of “my rheumatism,” or “my unemployment.” He says when we do this sort of thing, the ailment becomes wholly ours, almost like a prized possession. We take pride in ownership.

I know people who have developed this into an art form. I once had a work colleague who, when someone said, “Thank God, it’s Friday,” would say in response, “Well, I’m not so sure I’m happy about that–it is just that much closer to Monday.” She was stuck on the highway to pain and didn’t know how to get off.

In contrast, Fox suggests we claim the cure as our own. This is a very Jesus-like idea–claiming that God is available and wants the highest and best for us.

Focusing on the cure, like Jesus’ question to the man in the pool as recorded in John 5:6, indicates a desire to be healed, relying on the fact that God is a God of healing. With the thought, the hope, that cure–or even alleviation of suffering–is possible, comes less anxiety, less fear, and more peace of mind.

For that, I am grateful to God. And my mind experiences greater peace.

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