[from Breaking Free from Critical Addiction: Our #1 Social Disease]
People usually think they can’t have peace until their bills are paid or their problems are solved. I have learned peace does not come from solutions. Solutions come as the result of our peace. Enjoy my furnace story, which is a practical example of how this works.
We used to have an old furnace that ran steam heat to our radiators. I had to fill the boiler with water about once a month. One day, I was speaking with my mom while I filled the boiler, and I forgot what I was doing. I went off shopping with Mom and left the water turned on. When we came home that afternoon, water was spurting out from the radiators, flooding the carpet, pouring over the piano keys, and spraying the walls, furniture, and drapes. What a horrifying sight!
I was surprisingly calm as I walked to the basement and turned off the water. I was even calm when I discovered the furnace was ruined. Mom asked me how I could be so calm about this. I told her I had faith in God to take care of us. (Besides, I knew our insurance would cover everything.) It was easy to have faith under those circumstances. I felt very virtuous in my peace. I had been studying A Course in Miracles for a few months and was sure that I had passed the test of faith. My spiritual ego was in great shape, filled with spiritual pride.
The next day, a furnace man came to assess the damage. He confidently told me he would help me lie about the cause of the damage so that the insurance company would pay to replace cost of the furnace. Fear flooded my body as if someone had just injected a quart of adrenaline directly into my veins. “What do you mean, they might not pay?” I shrieked. “I can’t tell a lie!”
He laughed and told me I had better learn how to lie real quick, unless I had about $4,000 to pay for a new furnace, plus the money to pay for the rest of the damage. He might as well have said the furnace would cost four million dollars, because this happened in the 1960s, when that was considered quite a lot of money. There was no way I could come up with that much money.
What was I going to do? It was winter, and I couldn’t let my family freeze. Should I lie? I considered lying as I drove to work. Which did I value more—my integrity, or taking care of my family? That was an impossible choice to make. It was a double bind. I couldn’t value my personal integrity over the welfare of others without being out of integrity, and I couldn’t value physical comfort over integrity without believing that integrity has a price, therefore being out of integrity. My integrity would be lost by either choice. These are the kinds of choices that the ego shows us. It is just full of lose/lose scenarios. This was not a real choice at all. A real choice brings peace.
By the time I reached work, I was going over The Course in my mind, trying to figure out exactly how to apply spiritual principles to this situation. The still, small voice in my mind said, “Choose peace as your only goal, and give the whole situation to God.” So, I kept repeating, “I want the Peace of God,” but it didn’t seem to relieve my anxiety at all. Fear was overriding everything.
When the insurance adjuster returned my call, I heard myself blurting out the truth. I couldn’t help it. It was my habit. I trusted that if I was a good girl and told the truth, I would somehow be rewarded for my virtue. I soon found out that the good girl rule wasn’t one the insurance adjuster used for paying claims. He told me the water damage upstairs would be covered, but he didn’t think the insurance company would pay for the damage to the furnace itself. “Insurance doesn’t cover household appliances,” he said. He promised to call the main office in New York, get their opinion, and call me back later.
Trusting God and wanting peace didn’t seem to be getting me what I wanted. That was upsetting, too. Nothing was working! But weren’t things supposed to work out right if we do the right thing?
Then I realized it wasn’t God that I was trusting! I had been trusting in the insurance company as my Source. Real peace is possible only when it is not dependent on external circumstances. As long as I saw the insurance company as my Source, I could only have peace if the insurance company paid my claim. That made peace extremely limited and dependent on outer circumstances.
Then I remembered an old affirmation, “God is my Source, my only Source.” I wanted to totally trust God to take care of the furnace, one way or another. I reasoned that God could use the insurance company to take care of the furnace, but that wasn’t the only way God could provide warmth for us. God had many avenues through which he could manifest support, even though I couldn’t imagine another one at that time. I wanted to be able to trust God. However, at that moment, trust was only a thought. It was an idea of a state in which I wanted to be. I wasn’t experiencing trust. I wasn’t in a trusting state of mind. I didn’t feel the peace of mind that comes with trust. I was terrified.
For the rest of the day, I chanted, “I want the peace of God. I want the peace of God.” I was determined to experience peace before the insurance adjuster called to let me know what the insurance company would pay. I didn’t want my peace to be dependent on the outcome of his call.
By late afternoon, I was much calmer, but I was not really at peace. When the adjuster called back, I prayed that he didn’t have an answer yet, because I didn’t have peace yet. I needed more time to reach a state of peace first. My prayer was answered when he said, “I won’t know for sure until tomorrow.” I was so relieved.
By late that evening, I was totally at peace and grateful to be experiencing peace without knowing whether the insurance company would pay for the furnace or not. I was at peace just knowing that God was in charge of the final outcome, and that He would take care of us one way or another. I had really given it over to God.
The next morning the insurance adjuster called to say, “The insurance company won’t pay for the furnace.” To my delight, I was totally at peace and accepting of this decision. I wasn’t the least bit upset. By then, I knew I was safely in God’s hands. That was some kind of a milestone for me. It felt wonderful.
Instead of crying or getting angry, as I would have done earlier, I calmly asked him to help me understand the basis of their decision. I only wanted to understand their decision, not to argue with it. The insurance adjuster explained, “The insurance policy does not cover malfunctioning appliances, only the damage they cause. It is up to homeowners to replace and maintain their own appliances.” That made sense to me.
Then it occurred to me to ask him a new question. “Let me see if I understand this clearly. If my car ran into one of my appliances and damaged it, would the appliance I damaged be covered by my homeowners insurance?”
“Yes. In that situation, it would be covered under accidental damage,” he replied. A light bulb came on in my mind. “Well, my furnace didn’t malfunction. I accidentally damaged it when I left the water turned on. My car didn’t run into the furnace. My hand ran into it.”
There was a long silence on the line. Then I heard the insurance adjustor say, “You’re right. I didn’t think of that. I’ll call New York right away.” The insurance company immediately agreed to pay for everything!
If I had still been depending on an insurance settlement to bring me peace, I would have panicked when the adjuster told me the company wasn’t going to pay. My fear and anger would have completely clouded my mind, and I never would have even thought of that question. When I was at peace, my mind was crystal clear and receptive to guidance. I had clarity because I was at peace.
It always pays to seek peace first. From a place of peace and power within, everything else works out. That’s just good old common sense at its best.
The Source you have or choose is not what matters. What does matter is feeling connected to a Higher Power that guides you and brings you peace, whether you call it God, Goddess, the Universe, etc. Again, if you need to put this on your mental shelf, then do so. But I highly suggest that you trust the process, and try it for yourself. Just like I did in the example above.