EBUP69: When Things Go Wrong

Eric Butterworth Unity Podcast #69

Eric Butterworth Sunday Services — When Things Go Wrong

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The subject that we’ve for our discussion today could be construed as negative and defeatist by the success oriented student of truth. He might argue that we’re preparing the way and consciousness for things to actually go wrong. I guess he might have a point if we spent the hour wringing our hands and willfully talking about all the terrible things that happen to people and how unjust it is and so forth. But the fact is we live in a world of cross currents of consciousness, and if we’re honest, we must admit that sometimes we’re not able to sustain that positive state of mind in all circumstances. So for one reason or another, things do sometimes go wrong.

Certainly there’s nothing negative and recognizing with Robert Burns that the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, leave us not but grief and pain for promised joy. Maybe a job that isn’t working out, a physical challenge that has arisen, a sudden need for a financing in a tight money market, or a relationship problem with a spouse or coworker. It’s probably true that as students of truth we all have a tendency to be impatient with ourselves. We work with Jesus’ injunction: “Be perfect as your father in heaven is perfect.” That’s pretty stern. There’s no room in such a vision for failure.

The Greek word in the original New Testament here translated perfect is the word teleos, which is best understood in the contemporary phrase get it all together. It doesn’t mean to achieve Christ to it, but it means to get yourself on schedule and the process of growth. This gives us a very important insight into this concept of be perfect. We must realize that growth comes through change and change normally involves challenge. So when something goes wrong, does not necessarily indicate that a tragedy has happened. For one reason or another, we’ve been thrust into a necessity, perhaps we might say an opportunity for growth. Is an insight that if you really understand it can make a tremendous difference in your ability to handle life’s exigencies. In every attempt in life there must be the possibility of failure and success. You must have the stability and perspective to deal with both of them in the context of the ongoingness of life. To become too elated with success, too crushed by defeat is indicative of an imbalance.

So in every setback or failure we should be buoyed up with the realization that nothing has ever a complete loss. There’s always some gain, some growth, and in every success we should be sobered and humbled with the realization that without the action of force is greater than ourselves, we could not have succeeded. Life is for growing. Missing the mark is learning how to hit the target, and failure is a vital part of success. The problem is we have thought of success as getting there. But actually it is earning the right to be there. And the earning means learning. Setbacks, even seeming failures are a part of that learning.

So any education that prepares people only for success and not for coping with frustration of things going wrong merely succeeds in inhibiting a large number of students from attempting ventures where failure is a possibility, which severely cripples our creativity and imagination. An important observation here is that often a problem that unexpectedly crops up is the result of a subconscious trap that we had previously set for ourselves. Without knowing it we may have been working against ourselves.

It’s like the improbable story that is told of the man who insisted on helping a friend who was moving. A great moving van was drawn out before the door of the house. The men were busy going to and fro between the house and the van carrying furniture. The man started then help. When his friend this tried to dissuade him, he would wave him aside and pitch in all the harder. Finally, the friend pinned him in the corner and said, “Look, if you don’t stop helping us, we’ll never get moved in.” And the man said, “Moved in? I thought you were moving out.”

Like the youth who ran the wrong way in a football game, we often have to be knocked down and dragged down before we can be stopped from working against our own best interests. We may be praying or spiritually retreating for some good, but all the while we’re full of worry and fear. This not only negates our prayer, but actually is a kind of prayer for the worst. Otherwise you’re going to be hoping for the best, but actually expecting the worst. We do this more than we know. The very first thing to do when something goes wrong is to remember that he that is within me is greater than he that is in the world. You’d have an infinite mind. So the potential for the positive outworking is always within you even now. So nothing has really changed. God’s in his heaven still, all that still right with the world.

The problem is simply the frustration potentiality. So the real crisis is one of a perception, not what has happened, but what you’re thinking about what has happened. If you see the difficulty as a static thing, you tend to form an obstacle complex. It is said of Napoleon that he faced the most difficult of difficulties in a poised and confident manner because he would invariably declare, “I recognize its existence, but not its permanence. I recognize the existence, but not its permanence.” This is to face the fact that you do have a problem, but to see it in the context of the flow of life.

Some years ago I was facing an extremely disturbing situation in my own life. I was feeling as if I had a great weight on my shoulders. Casting about for a helpful insight I was browsing through the Bible. For some reason, my attention focused on the words, “It came to pass.” These are innocuous words. They have no pertinent significance in themselves. But I kept returning to that phrase: it came to pass. The realization dawned; it has been one of the great discoveries of my own truth seeking life, the realization that this challenge did not come into my life to remain as a permanent fixture, it came to pass. This was the birth in my conscious of the idea of the flow of life. It came to me many years ago. So no matter how real or substantial the problem seems to be, it would pass away just as every undesirable situation then before it.

Most of our negative reactions to problems come because we think that this has happened, and it’s here, and I’m stuck with it; it’s a static thing. But actually as we find if we look back into our experience, all the things that have happened have ultimately passed away. So this experience has come to bring me something I need for my growth. Now I can let it pass onto oblivion, and it will do so if I let it go, give thanks that it has happened, and it’s been happening, is on the way out. And the moment this glimmer of light came in that particular situation, the burden was instantly lifted from my shoulders. It’s almost as if the light and suddenly dawned, and the darkness before the dawn faded away into nothingness. So as I let go of my concern over the problem, it moved swiftly in the direction of an amazing solution. As Shakespeare says, “Our remedies often ourselves do lie.”

It was almost as if my anxiety had been holding back the solution, which it probably was, like holding a compass needle and then seeing it float easily back to fix on magnetic north as I let it go. It’s a realization that I use often and have since that time. I recognize its existence but not its permanence. I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass. You may have a challenge in your life now, something that you’re facing that you’re deeply concerned about, something that’s a weight on your shoulders. You may want to join with me now in repeating this realization. I’ll say it a phrase at a time. I recognize its existence, but not its permanence.

I recognize its existence, but not its permanence.

I recognize its existence, but not its permanence. I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass.

I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass.

I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass. I say that again because very important. I recognize its existence, but not its permanence.

I recognize its existence, but not its permanence.

I recognize its existence, but not its permanence. I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass.

I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass.

I know that it has not come to stay; it has come to pass. Hold that thought concerning something that you feel is very troubling in your life. Get the sense that it’s not here permanently. It’s not a thing to worship. It’s not a block of stone. It’s come to pass. It’s in the flow. Let it go.

For instance, in facing the experience of unemployment, normally there’s a confusion of bitterness, fear, self-pity, and insecurity, because unemployment is thought of as a static thing. And all of our fears and anxieties are based on the fact that we think that it’s here to stay. “I’m unemployed.” This comes from dealing with the fear of permanence of the condition, so it’s important to get the thought that it has come to pass. See it as a moving experience. Suddenly all that is left is the movement between jobs and with faith in the unfoldment of good. And truly not a fearsome thought at all, is it?

No matter how, or what, or when something happens, all important is how you deal with it in thought. Remember Moses’ word to the Israelites as they commiserated over their plight before the impassible Red Sea with the Egyptian army bearing down upon them with intent to destroy them. He said to them, “Stand ye still and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you this day.” Stand still and know the truth. Stand still and see the flow of the divine process working in your life. Get the perspective of that flow, knowing that the divine of adjustment is working. Actually see it in mental imagery. It is a helpful technique to use when things go wrong.

One man was greatly disturbed at being passed over into promotion to a higher post. The promotion went to another person. He had worked faithfully for this corporation. He’d studied and prepared himself for this position. He really felt he was more qualified than the other person who received the advance. The rebuff was a tragic blow to him. He had a brief tussle with bitterness. But he was a student of truth, and he well knew that a strong negative reaction would be akin to the man helping the friend move, but moving things out when they were really moving in. Other words, you could choose to destroy himself with this kind of thing if he wanted to, or he could choose to deal with it creatively.

At first it was hard to get into the process of the spiritual realization, so he could only voice some pollyanna cliches. So he would say, “I know that all things work together for good, but I can hardly wait to see what good would come out of this.” But he moved closer and closer toward the spiritual realization. And intuitively he knew the answer was within himself. And finally he did really stand still and see. The revelation came, but his real problem was he didn’t feel worthy of the job, and he wanted the hire post to prove himself that he was worthy. But you see worthiness must come first. So he worked on himself, and the realization came if you’re worthy to draw a breath of air, you’re worthy of the affluence of heaven and earth.

He’s reading the paper one day, and he found himself reading the help wanted pages, something he’d never done before. He noted an ad indicating that they were looking for someone of his qualifications, and he said, “That sounds just like me.” So he arranged for an interview. And to make the long story short, soon he was in the new position. Within a year, his income was nearly double what it had been, and he was happier than he’d ever been. When things went wrong, he had chosen to deal with the crisis creatively. It all depends upon the attitude that you hold about yourself.

I can share with you my personal experience that I’ve shared before, and some of you have heard it, but bear with me because it’s apropos here. Many years ago in the early days of my radio work, in the days before tape recordings when I actually had to go to the radio station every morning, six days a week. Some of you may not be aware that this is the way radio function in those days because we’ve become so used to hearing recorded programs. And I have become so used to recording a program and sending it off to the station on tape, and then sitting home relaxed when the broadcast is on.

But there was a day when I had to go to the station every day of the week. If I was going out of town, it was a big job. I had to go and have a regular radio record disc made. It was a huge problem to get away for any period of time. So I had to get up at 4:30 every morning at this time to leave home for the trip to the station at 5:15 daily. I was up with the farmers. One morning I wakened to find that there had been a heavy snowfall in the night, and the car was buried, and the road was completely impassible. But there was no way out. I had to get on. The show goes on of course, and so I had donned my heavy boots and walked half a mile to a main thoroughfare.

I flagged a bus that mercifully came along, but it was going very slowly and obviously not going to get me to the station on time. So I got off at a corner where there was a taxi stand, and there was a cab there. So I got the cab. And before we’d gone a couple of miles, the cab had a blow out. The driver got out to fix it. He said, “This really won’t take long.” But I didn’t have the time to wait and see whether it would take long or not. Along came another cab which picked me up. We drove along merrily for a while, and soon we were locked tightly in a terrible traffic jam. We were standing still, and the clock moved on. Came to that point which every traveler has talked about; it’s the point of no return, point where there was no possibility of getting there on time.

So finally I let go of my anxious concerned thinking that I have done all I can do. There’s nothing more I can do. So if I miss a broadcast, it won’t be the end of world. So I sat back and closed my eyes, and I had what I must call a mystical experience. I actually saw myself competing the broadcast and looking back on the frantic push to get to the station on time. I had a feeling of gratitude for its outworking. This all came in a flash, in a vision. Suddenly the driver called out, “We’re here mister.” I couldn’t believe it. We were in front of the building. I looked at my watch, and it was impossible. It couldn’t have gotten there in this time. But there was no time to speculate, and I had just two minutes left. I paid the driver with a generous tip, ran into the building where an elevator was actually waiting.

I walk into the studio just as the engineer was pointing, “You’re on.” Really it was a great lesson. Lesson was to believe in the possibility of doing the impossible and to experience what I’ve since used on many occasions as a technique for getting into the it-came-to-pass flow. When you’re bogged down in some difficulty where there appears to be no time, no way out, just get still. Visualize yourself 24 hours later, 24 hours beyond that point where you have that terrible hassle to face, and you’re looking back upon it, feeling grateful that it all worked out beautifully. This completely bypasses the technicality of the how, which comes into conscious. “How am I possibly going to get it done?” Getting into the conscious of receptivity in which answers can easily unfold.

This a very workable technique. It’s one which I’ve used often. Just look back 24 hours ahead, and look back on the experience and get the feeling that it’s already done. See it is done. Envision it as done, and feel grateful that it is done. Jesus says, “Pray believing you have received. Pray believing you have received, and see yourself as having received.” That’s a big part of the prayer process. So out of this there comes a very important affirmation.

I do not resist change, but I doubt myself to the inexorable function of the divine law of adjustment that is unfolding greater good for me.

I do not resist change, but I adapt myself to the inexorable function of the divine law of adjustment. It is unfolding greater good for me. Of course, when things go wrong, pray about it, but not begging or supplicating for God’s help, but affirming that you’re never separated from the action of divine law. Prayer is remembering the truth, knowing oneness, getting centered in the inner flow. It is knowing that you live an infinite mind. You live in mind in which there’s always an answer for every need, on the very verge of being out-formed, just knowing that all things are working together for good.

There’s a marvelous lesson in the Bible of a person meeting a whole lot of things going wrong in an exemplary poise of nonresistance. We refer of course to Joseph, who little more than a boy was snatched from the shelter of a doting father’s care by his own jealous brothers who sold him to wandering merchants who in turn sold him as a slave in the household of Potiphar and Egypt, a high official in the Pharaoh’s army. Instead of bemoaning his fate, Joseph went about his duties in Potiphar’s house with poise and serenity. Soon because of his demonstrated trustworthiness and wilingness, things became better for him. His master made him overseer of the whole household, but then adversity overtook him again. Because he scorned the overtures that she made toward him, Potiphar’s unfaithful wife wrongly accused him of an attempted infidelity with her, so Joseph was cast into prison. But Joseph nonresistantly accepted every change knowing that something good was on the way. He simply did the best he could do in every experience. His good spirits so impressed to keeper of the prison that he made him what today we call a trustee.

There seemed little opportunity for his freedom or for happiness, but Joseph went right on doing what he could for his fellow prisoners while keeping his faith in the ultimate triumph of good. And the rest of the story is a beautiful illustration of what patient faith and integrity can accomplish. Upon hearing from one of the prisoners whom Joseph had befriended that he was gifted with the ability to interpret dreams, Pharaoh sent for him to interpret his own dreams. He was so pleased with the young man that in time he made him prime minister over all of Egypt. It was a very interesting story when the brothers and their father came from Palestine where they’ve been having a terrible drought to Egypt to beg for and to receive some help and food for their people. He came face to face with his father, with his brothers, his traitorous brothers.

To them he said, “Be not afraid, but though you meant evil for me in what you did, that God intended for good.” It’s a wonderful story of the consciousness of one who was able to be nonresistant to changing conditions. When many things went wrong, he always met them in the realization of the flow of good working for him. It’s a great inspiration to all of us when we find ourselves in the depth of some kind of adversity and we feel that we’re innocent victims of some injustice. When was the last time you felt your very unjustly treated, and you let those paranoid feelings come into your consciousness? “Why are they picking on me? Why do these things I was going on in my life?” You may say, “But I couldn’t react like Joseph. It’s too much for me.”

Because his handling of his thoughts and feelings in the face of injustice was really the most logical thing to do if you stop and think about it. Why destroy yourself over the actions of others or the cruelty of fate? How much better to remember that the potential for the positive outworking is always within you. The potential is always present. So watch how you meet the challenge. Freely admit to its existence, but not its permanence. Know that it has not come to stay, but to pass. Yet centered in the realization that when something goes wrong, the challenge is an opportunity to release more of your innate potential. Admit to yourself that no matter what the challenge, there’s always some advantage in every disadvantage. So pray about it, then sense of getting centered in divine mind where there are always answers for every need.

It’s so important to see prayer in this consciousness, getting into the awareness of the infinite process within us, which knows our needs as Jesus said, and whose pleasure it is to give us the kingdom, to give us the answers. And the time will come if you’re open to perceive it, when you look back on the difficulty or the suffering with a grateful heart, because he would have brought you to a new understanding of yourself. Jesus said, “I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Many have been disturbed by this because it seems as if

Jesus is saying, “I came to bring you a war rather than peace.” This isn’t what he meant at all. He’s saying that life is not for ease and contentment; life is for growth. He came to stir you up, not to lull you into complacency, but to set you on fire with the realization that there’s great things good for you if you keep working within, keep using the sword of truth to cut away all the limitations, let the unfoldment of good manifest in your life. So when things go wrong, hold the realization that though you are challenged by it, you will surely grow through it if you keep positive and if you keep on.

I’d like to invite you to be still for just a moment.

And in the stillness, get the sense of being at the center of the creative flow of good. I refer often to the design or logo that you find on your program we use so often based upon the figure of the person which is yourself. The center of a circle with the arrows pointing in from all directions indicating the infinite creative flow of intelligence, and love, and substance flowing into your life while you, as Moses said, simply stand quiet. Get the feeling now of being centered at this part of your being. No matter what the challenges or the difficulties that you face in your life, no matter how real they are, no matter how threatening, that you’re still at the center of your being. God’s in his heaven and all is right with the world, heaven being the unmanifest, ever seeking to express through you, substance in life and intelligence flowing into you and through you from all sides. In this consciousness you have the capacity and the receptivity to let the answer come forth. And if you will, you may want to utilize this simple technique that I’ve referred to.

Projecting yourself 24 hours ahead, or a week ahead, or a month ahead, whatever seems adequate to take care of the needs that you face. And see yourself as being completely successful in achieving the good that you desire and overcoming the limitation, and looking back from this projected state, seeing the wonderful thing unfold in your life, solving and dissolving the problems, easing the unharmony, manifesting the love and forgiveness that may be necessary, that the great difficulty fades away into nothingness. From this projected point a day, or a week, or a month ahead, you feel grateful, grateful that it has worked out, grateful that in the flow of life, wonderful things of unmanifest in your life, feel this about yourself.

No matter what the condition, no matter how serious, how seemingly impossible or impossible, it has not come to stay; it is coming to pass. And you let it pass, grateful that it has brought you to a new discovery of yourself ... And to feel good about the fact that there’s always a possible outworking in the grasp of our consciousness. And through the word of truth, you can open the door to the kingdom of all possibilities. So just join me in consciousness as we say together, you shall know the truth and the truth will make you free. And so be it.


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