Friday, March 5, 2010

And how would you like your pain? Now, or later?

Yesterday afternoon, I sat in the dentist's chair thinking philosophically. "Why do I like myself so much better now, than I do three weeks from now?" And what I mean by that, is this:

I knew, after consulting with the dentist, I had an unpleasant procedure (not a huge deal) that needed to be scheduled. Something in the way the guy looked at me made me think he might offer to do it right then! And inside, I thought, "No! Let's schedule this later!" (Actually, yesterday would have been a great time to do this. My day wasn't heavily scheduled. But I didn't want the pain now, it needed to be later!)

We never want the pain NOW.

So I thought to myself, IF I could have my way, I'd choose to not pay my bills until later. I'd choose not to exercise until later. I'd choose not to read to my children or grandchildren, or for my own growth until later. I'd choose not to work at my diet until later. I'd choose not to cook until later. (And I would go out to eat NOW. I would put it on a credit card and pay later.) Later!

We never want our pain or effort NOW.

We know that discipline is something we need. We know we need it today. But the steps involved:
-writing a budget and staying with it, and paying for what I can afford when I buy it;
-saying NO to myself about that cookie or fa(s)t food foray;
-quitting that debilitating addiction;
-reading a book or taking quiet time instead of vegging in front of the television;
these things are just painful, and require effort!

So we postpone our pain until LATER. After we lose our health and damage that of those around us due to poor eating habits; after we've abused our friends by stealing their money or robbing their medicine cabinet to get our next fix; after the collectors have set up residence in our answering machines and after we've abused our friend's trust because they know they won't get paid back for last year's "little loan;" and after it's too late to teach our children to read, or our soul to be still... Later please.

So, while I sat in the dentist chair I asked: "Can we do this now?" He responded by tilting his head and saying, "Afraid we can't get you in right now. You'll have to schedule with the front desk." And I did. April 1st--April Fool's Day will be my day to hurt a little. And next April, and the next and the next--if all goes as planned--my tooth shouldn't be hurting when I chew on an apple.

I heard lots about repentance when I was a kid. I thought it meant that you said you were sorry. That is the beginning of it. But real repentance means to be sorry enough to change. And that is something we'd prefer to do later.


Keith said...

It is a sad and lonely soul whose pillow talk is filled with "coulda" "woulda" "shoulda"

david said...

So true. Looking back on ease must be tougher than taking on incremental disciplines. Thanks Keith.

Zee said...

heh... and the ironic thing is... in a lot of cases the pain right now would be not as painful as the one later...

and yet we're still afraid of the first step.

Anonymous said...


david said...

So true Zena. I'm wondering which is a sign of self love... to sacrifice now in order to have a better formed future, or to live it up now and suffer in the future. I guess they both are, just the latter is a selfish love, maybe... Either way, I've practiced way more of the lazy way, and so to Anonymous, yep, my toes are still aching from this one. It's part of my sermon prep for tomorrow.