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EBUP73: Whining or Refining

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #73

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — Whining or Refining

Eric concludes this talk with “Resolve that never again would you allow yourself to think of your ordeal, your limitation, your handicap. Resolve to think of the constant opportunities provided in life that enable you to deal with the condition, to refine it, and to go throw it. And give thanks for this ability to look at yourself, to see the great potentialities that are yours. Make commitment now that you will stop whining, and commence refining.”


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One of the saddest things in life is to see your loved one or a friend who has experienced some very difficult condition and has been wiped out emotionally, and diversely affected physically, perhaps financially. You may be crying out with Shakespeare's Juliet, "Come weep with me, past hope, past cure, past help." It's a good time to remember, and perhaps to help this other person remember Carlyle's poetic wisdom, when he says, "Every day born into the world comes like a burst of thunder, and you can make of it a dance, a dirge, or a life march as you will." In other words, you always have a choice. You can lie down and whine and despair, with all the apparent justification for doing so, and with solid sympathy and support from your friends and loved ones, or you can set about to refine the raw materials available, turn them into something good. And think about this, this morning; your option in facing life's crises, whining or refining.

First of all, I'd like to have us cut through the confusing religious doctrine that leads to self pity and whining. It is the limited view of the will of God. This is a concept that was born of man's sense of helplessness in the face of conditions over which he thought he had no control. So, they developed the belief that pain, crippling disease, the loss of sight, and eventual handicap to effective living, can frustrate our whole good in life. And they're all the result of the will of God. For some inscrutable reason known only to him, he's placed a burdensome handicap on the person. You're born to suffer. You're born to be a loser, to struggle. This is the way we learn the glory of heaven, or so this ridiculously weird theology goes.

Get this into your consciousness for all time; the will of God is always good. God's will for you is good, eternally so. Jesus says, "It is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." Certainly that doesn't like the author of a capricious will. God's will is the ceaseless longing of the creator to perfect himself in the creation. You as the creation of God to be continually blessed and enriched by his longing of the infinite to create himself and perfect himself in the creation. So, God's will for you is always for life, for health, for overcoming, for success. No matter what the experience, you can be certain God's will, or the universe of creative intention is for the positive outworking of good. You want to think about that, to rehearse it in your mind. Build it into your consciousness, become convinced of it.

So now, with this matter settled, the decks are cleared for action. All that remains is you and me in the universe and environment of law. This puts the spotlight on consciousness, yours and mine. It is not so much a matter of what has happened to you, or the seemingly impossible situation you're facing. What are you doing about it? How are you thinking about it? It's good from, time to time, to remind yourself that life is for growing. Life is for growing. If you were whole and complete, needing nothing more of human development, if there are no weaknesses of immaturity in you, there'd be little purpose for your being here at all. Ever thought about that? We are all on the pathway of unfoldment. Though we may be on different levels of understanding, we all have growing to do. For this reason, if we start where we are, to do what we can with exactly what we're experiencing in life, we would never be tempted to whine about our lot.

You see, you're a spiritual being. You're a spiritual being. You are a whole creature in the process of God forming that wholeness. And because you're a spirit being you, there's a divine bias within you on the side of healing and overcoming, and of all things working together for good. So, within every disadvantage, there is a seed of an equivalent advantage. Every crisis can be an opportunity, every tragedy can be a blessing, every disappointment can become his appointment, or a divine appointment. As a spiritual being, you are one with the great power and potential of the universe. God can never be limited, the expression of God can never be limited, except in the thought of limitation. Your neighbor, your friend may appraise your situation and sadly shake his head discouragingly, but you must refuse to buy this appraisal, or to judge your own state by appearances. Refuse to let the thought of handicap justify feelings of insufficiency.

You may have heard someone say, and you may have said it yourself, "I know that God is my help whenever I need him, but with this handicap I don't see how." That person should know that his handicap is actually his attitude. Completely summed up in the word "but". There is always within you that which can turn any handicap into a veritable handle to power. It's important to believe this. If you ever catch yourself saying, "God is my help, but ... " Stop yourself and declare, "God is my help." Period. No qualifications, no obstacles, no handicaps.

In truth you are faced with the changeling implications of the law of attraction. Your relationships, conditions and experiences in your life come to you by the law of consciousness. You may wrestle resistantly with this thought, but it is important to keep it at least to this point; that you attract to yourself only those conditions, and experiences and relationships that you have the capacity of turning into a blessing. I'm going to put that into an affirmation. I attract unto myself only those things which I have the capacity of turning into a blessing. Are you willing to think of that, to accept it? Maybe you'd like to affirm that with me. I attract unto myself, say that much, I attract unto myself only those things which I have the capacity of turning into a blessing. Now, let's say it all together. I attract unto myself only those things which I have the capacity of turning into a blessing. It's a marvelous realization, because in this way you'll face life continually with confidence, and as Henley says, "You are the master of your fate and the captain of your soul."

Consider the old testament story of Joseph. It's a classic story and a sad one. He was mistreated, betrayed, sold into slavery by his brothers, and he held the right attitude throughout. And eventually, through his difficulties, he rose through many hardships and experiences until he became the ruler of Egypt, ultimately the savior of his family. And by way of forgiving his brothers he said, "He may have intended evil against me, but God meant it for good." It was his appointment with great good. But the key is he kept the appointment. He kept the appointment.

Look carefully at this; there may be times when you face a challenge similar to Joseph's. You may say in discouragement, "He, or she, or it ruined my life. You ruined my life." Of course, this could never be true. No person has the condition or the power to hold back your good, or frustrate your opportunity for overcoming. No one has the power to hold back your good, or frustrate your opportunity for overcoming. No one. But any situation may seem to conspire in providing you with justification to ruin your own life, with your whining approach, if that's the way you want to deal with life. The choice is yours. Hold to the truth of your oneness with God or good, and know that your good will eventually unfold, and things will work together for good. All things work together for good to them that love the lord, we're told.

Sometimes our whining attitude tends to obscure the whole picture, as Paul says, "We see in part." There's a delightful, maybe more of a parable than anything, of a man who came to a counselor terribly depressed. He even admitted that he had seriously thought of ending it all. He slumped into a chair, with his head in his hands he cried, "There's no hope. Everything is gone. There's nothing left for me." The counselor wisely said, "That's a tragic thing. I'm sorry to hear that your wife has left you, she was such a fine woman." He looked up shocked and said, "No, my wife hasn't left me." The counselor said, "But I thought you told me everything was gone. So, you still have your wife. Well, I regret to hear that your children are all in jail." The man said now, with a little more animation, "Don't be ridiculous, of course they aren't in jail."

"So, you have your family with you. Then, I suppose the problem is that your house has burnt down and you have nowhere to go." "No," he cried, "The house we've lived in for years is still as it's always been." "Then it must be that your health is what you've lost, you've been told by your doctor that you have only a few months to live." The man cried, "You're crazy!" Then he suddenly broke into a grin and he said sheepishly, "I see what you're saying. I guess it's all how you look at things." The important thing is the man solved his problem at that moment. He stopped whining and started refining. Can you put yourself into that picture?

One woman suffering a chronic illness for many years always referred to her illness as "my ordeal". Have you ever talked about your handicap, your problem, your pain, your backache, your ordeal. Now, it happens that this woman called herself a truth student. She'd done a lot of dabbling and reading in metaphysics and truth literature everywhere. As I often say, she was over read and underdone. It's a common malady among the truth students. But for some reason, she had acquired the belief that her illness was a thing in itself. A reality that somehow was unrelated to her metaphysical studies. She read things about thinking, about consciousness, about faith, and she applied this to everything apart from this one particular problem, which seemed to be isolated. And one day she had a flash of insight. She suddenly saw that she had a strong belief that she was being punished for something she had done in the past. From her bible reading, she recalled instance after instance of good men and women who had been afflicted with troubles far worse than her own, and how they turned these seeming adversities into proving the divine healing law.

The strongest impression came from the story of Job, no one seemed to have been more physically stricken than Job. At first, as we read the story, we find that Job is inclined to view his illness with nothing less than bad fortune. He was a chronic whiner and complainer. When he changed these views, and he cried finally that, "I know that my redeemer liveth." He was ultimately completely healed. In a sense, Job was saying, I will call whatever has happened as an opportunity. So the idea came to this woman, that if Job was healed of his awful sickness, that she too could be healed. She decided she'd let go of the idea of her ordeal, and see her experience, whatever it might be, as her opportunity.

In other words, the great truth is life is for growth. Every experience, no matter what it is, is an opportunity to grow. It may be unemployment, maybe some shock that you've received or some trying ordeal of life, maybe it's something, a case where some loved one's let you down, it may have been a sudden desperate need for increased finances to meet some obligation. Everywhere it's an opportunity. So, who should be struggling with some kind of difficulty, take stock of your thoughts about it. What have you called this thing? My problem, my challenge, my heartache, my difficulty, my pain.

Change these appellations to the word opportunity, whatever it may be. I call this my opportunity. Instead of thinking sickness, think opportunity. Instead of thinking injustice, or lack, or loneliness, think opportunity. The purpose of your life is for growth. This is an opportunity for you to grow. The fact that you're experiencing this thing is in evidence of where you are in consciousness. It's good to know that, because we think we're way up here, we may be way down here. But your opportunity to get up there if you stop whining and refine the raw materials that are available in this condition, so you can climb to where you would like to be.

You may recall the story of the poor South African Boer farmer who struggled for years to glean a livelihood out of the rocky soil of his farmland. Always whining about the inadequacy of his means. In time he gave up in despair, went away to seek his fortune elsewhere. Many years later he took a trip back to visit some friends in the area. He found that his old farm was now swarming with machinery. There was more wealth being dug out of the ground there than he ever dreamed existed in the world, out of the ground that was his rocky farm, and the rocks were diamonds in the rough. They were being refined into precious stones of great value, for this was the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa. One time that land was considered the most valuable land in all the world.

Russell Conwell, the famed preacher, used this as the basis of his now famous sermon, Acres of Diamonds, which he then developed into a widely read book. How like that Boer farmer we are. In the presence of rich resources of spirit within, we whine about our lot in life, our handicaps, our limitations, and what great discoveries there are to be made in our ability to refine the raw materials into a manifestation of great good. It has been said that the majority of failures in life are simply the victims of their mental defeats. Their belief that they cannot succeed as others do robs them of their vigor and determination, which self confidence imparts. The reason why millions of people plod along in mediocrity, barely making ends meet, when they may the the inherent ability to do much more with there the life, the reason is they have a poor self image. They spend all their time whining about the rocky soil, when they should be refining their attitudes into the success consciousness that would make them winners.

There's an important message that needs to be brought home to today's social reformers. We talk often about the advantaged and the disadvantaged, the haves and the have nots. Let's consider two persons that are approximately equal in their mental and physical capacities. However, one of them has a poor self image and a lack of great self confidence, the other one knows who he is and walks and works consciously aware that he's in the flow of good. There's no question, the second one will succeed in refining the resources that are available to him, and will go far in life, where the first one will fail time and time again, finally resigning himself to the belief that is an unjust world. The up consciousness of the one will multiply his power and potential 100 fold, while the negative mood will subtract 100 fold from the other one.

We think life is unjust, people who have an unequal opportunity in life fail to account for the fact of their thoughts, their attitudes, their consciousness. The challenges of human experience do not prohibit life. They provide us with opportunities to develop the ability to be good conductors for a flow of life great enough to compensate for the disadvantaged. We talk about disadvantaged people. We need to consider the advantage of disadvantage, because the opportunities, they're available to grow. There's so many illustrations of a tragic accident, or loss, or some kind of threat in a career, which provided just the right challenge to prod the person to dig deeper within himself, to achieve the strength to go on, in the process, leading to excellence.

I have a fond memory of a college classmate of mine who contracted polio in his early teens. It was especially heart wrenching because he had the great desire to be a runner. His doctor said there was no hope of his ever walking again, let alone run. His parents and ministers, teachers and friends all tried to encourage him to adjust to a future as a cripple. He'd just make himself miserable if he expected to do anything more. This way he could do much as a cripple, he could get around in a wheelchair and he'd be all right, he could make it in life. But he refused to accept his condition as final. He refused to whine or complain. He would literally drag himself out of doors and go throw such motions as he could to get the life force flowing. At first he hobbled around the yard, and then he was walking with crutches, then walking painfully unaided. He seemed intuitively to know that climbing hills was his key to strength.

So, he spent hours a week hiking in the hills nearby his home, pressing himself constantly to climb higher, to walk farther. Incidentally, I might say here that he developed an appreciation for plants and flowers, setting the direction for his life work later, as a botanist of distinction.

This bended legged young man reported for the track team in high school and was politely told to give up his dream, but he pressed on. He would go out to the track, later after the tracksters had gone home, and run, or what was passed for running at that time. For four years, all through high school, he did his private training, increasing his ability to run. When he arrived at college, when I met him, no one knew of his former condition. They were all unaware that he'd been told that he would never walk, let alone run, but run he did. At first, just enough to make the track team, then winning races occasionally, then becoming the star of the team, and eventually in his senior year breaking the world record in the half mile. His name; Elroy Robinson. My teammate on the college track team. Robbie, as we called him, was a great inspiration, and has remained to me an inspiration for more than 50 years. He refused to be a whiner. He became a classic example of the refiner, a winner.

It's interesting that many great names of history started life with some kind of handicap. The classic example is Demosthenes, the greatest orator of the ancient world, who actually stuttered. First time he tried to make a public speech, he was laughed off the rostrum. Then there's the story of Alfred Adler, who was a student of Freud, who had poor eyesight. He made an extensive study of poor eyes in people. He discovered that many artists and others who depended upon good eyesight to do their work, were actually of poor sight. He began to realize, which caused him to break with Freud, his associate, that whereas Freud talked about the sex drive as being the important spur in the life of a person, he felt it was the spur of inadequacy that drove a person on. He developed a theory, which we think of today as inferiority complex. In the process he compensated for his own lack of sight. He went on to achieve distinction as a doctor of ophthalmology.

You may say, "But these are exceptions. What about the millions who are limited and handicapped and frustrated by their national, or religious, or racial background. Their lack of education or opportunity. By their limited physical abilities." But you see, if a thousand people fail at a task, and all of them agree conclusively that it can't be done, their contention is negated by one person who succeeds at the task, the fact that he did it, proves that it can be done. One person going into a business entrepreneurially may be discouraged by well meaning friends who say, "99 out of every 100 in that field will fail. What chance do you have?" Well, he's not a whiner, but a refiner, so he says, "Then I will be the one in a hundred that succeeds." Turn to the Fords, the Carnegies, the J.C.Penneys are those who did not whine over the rock strewn condition of their farmland, but they set about refining the rocks into precious stones. As I mentioned in a recent series, these men were actually intrepreneurs, for their success must be attributed to the focus of their mind, the harnessing of the divine resources within.

It is probably true that there occurs in every person who achieves greatness a challenge where he makes a conscious choice to turn from whining to refining. Such a decision was undoubtedly made by Jesus, when in Gethsemane he said, "Let this cup pass from me, nevertheless, not by will, but thy be done." Not the will of the human, the sense of material oriented man, but the will of the self transcended, who I ready to accept the opportunity to grow, to become the risen Christ. Nothing splendid has ever been achieved, except by those who dare to believe that something inside them is superior to circumstances, because they stopped whining and began refining. Success in anything begins within, in consciousness.

The inventor or researcher knows that before the outer development takes form, it must be accepted as a possibility. He must go forward refusing to whine, committed to refine any results that occur. The electric light bulb is attributed to this process. Edison could've whined over the hundreds of failures in the experience, but he took each one as a success that would lead to something else if carefully refined. That's why research is often called the art of successful failure.

Remember, it is important always to see your challenge or adversity as an opportunity. This is the concept that was beautifully articulated by Shakespeare in his As You Like It, when he says dramatically, "Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like a toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head. And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything." All the great achievers in life say to us, in one way or another, "Stop whining and start refining." Let's be still on that note.

I would like you now to challenge yourself by looking in the mirror. Just imagine that you have a large mirror before you now, a mirror that not only looks into your mind, into your physical experience, into your environment and all the things that make up your world. In self analysis, try to focus now upon the brutal fact many of these things around you and within you are thought of as handicaps. Note how many times you excuse yourself, or your tendency to whine, by your age or your youthfulness, by your physical condition, or your lack of health. By your job, and the seeming low possibilities for success and achievement. By the fact that you haven't had the opportunity to be as educated as you'd like to be, or even such simple things as the weather, keep you from doing what you'd like to do. Admit to yourself that you've been talking about these things as your ordeal, you've accepted them. You've even tried to be positive by saying, "That's just way life is."

Now, press the button in imagination, and change this mirror that reflects what you are, to a mirror that reflects what you can be. Now you look into this mirror, and see the radiant transcend itself, living in a world of harmony and order, and love, and fulfillment, and success, and accomplishment. Look long into this world revealed by this mirror, identify with it, give thanks for it. Entertain for a moment the idea that life is for growing, and you attract to yourself those things that you have the ability to overcome, to be blessed by.

Resolve that never again would you allow yourself to think of your ordeal, your limitation, your handicap. Resolve to think of the constant opportunities provided in life that enable you to deal with the condition, to refine it, and to go throw it. And give thanks for this ability to look at yourself, to see the great potentialities that are yours. Make commitment now that you will stop whining, and commence refining. You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. So be it.