Do you ever “fume” and “fret?” Here is a picture of yourself if you do. The word “fume” means to boil up, to blow off, to emit vapor, to be agitated, to be distraught, to seethe.
The word “fret” is equally descriptive. It is reminiscent of a sick child in the night, a petulant half-cry, half-whine. It ceases, only to begin again. It has an irritating, annoying, penetrating quality.
One reason for “fuming and fretting” is the tempo of our lifestyle. We don’t realize how accelerated the rate of our lives has become, or the speed at which we are driving ourselves. The “rat race” leads to burnout unless we learn to control the pace.
An aggressive, go-getter type of businessman made his annual trip to the doctor for his checkup. He excitedly told the doctor what an enormous amount of work he had to do, and that he had to get it done right now or else.
“I take my brief case home every night and it’s packed with work,” he said with nervous inflection.
“Why do you take work home with you at night?” the doctor asked quietly.
“Have to get it done,” he fumed.
“Cannot someone else do it, or help you with it?” asked the doctor.
“No,” the man snapped. “I am the only one who can do it. It must be done just right, and I alone can do it the way it should be done, and it has to be done quickly. Everything depends upon me.”
“If I write you a prescription, will you follow it?”
“I’ll try,” said the patient.
The doctor gave some rather whimsical advice: “Take off two hours every working day and go for a long walk. Then take off a half-day a week and spend that half-day in a cemetery.”
In astonishment the patient demanded: “Why should I spend a half-day in a cemetery?”
“Because,” answered the doctor, “I want you to wander around and look at the gravestones of men who are there permanently. I want you to meditate on the fact that many of them are there because they thought even as you do; the whole world rested on their shoulders. Meditate on the solemn fact that when you get there permanently the world will go on just the same, and as important as you are, others will be able to do the work you are now doing.
“I suggest you sit on one of those tombstones, think about your maker, and repeat this statement: ‘For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past…so teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom’” (Psalm 90:4, 12).
The patient got the message, and slowed his pace. He learned to delegate authority. He achieved a proper sense of his own importance, and stopped fuming and fretting.
Learning to live and work with a peaceful attitude gives strength for living.