My daily walk includes a path through a park along the shore of Lake Saint Clair, a lake so large I cannot see the opposite shore. The other day, the sky was overcast and the lake a dull gray, when, all of a sudden, the sun broke through the clouds, shining on the water, and the water shimmered. Where seconds before there had only been dullness, now the water sparkled, and I stopped to look.
Three words popped into my mind: Think BIG thoughts!
Vast is the sky overhead and the water at my feet, inviting me to be expansive, to live in the abundance that our God offers us. It was a mystical moment.
Our culture encourages people to think big thoughts about success, possessions, money—building financial portfolios, expanding business, growing wealth—all with an eye toward more money and bigger things—houses, cars, etc. Excessiveness is a word we tend to associate with wealth and the way wealthy people spend their money—mansions, yachts, elaborate vacations, expensive clothes.
But what if we focused our big thoughts on building, expanding and growing love, forgiveness, acceptance and compassion. What if we were excessive with kindness, gratitude and mercy? What if we focused our wants on others instead of ourselves? What if we thought big thoughts about goodness, curiosity and generosity? Pie in the sky? Perhaps.
As I walked home from the lake that day, I passed the elementary school near my house and noticed words stenciled on the sidewalk. The school district has a character-building program focused on developing positive habits in the children and more than a dozen sidewalk blocks had words on them.
I remembered back to the beginning of the pandemic when children wrote messages of hope in sidewalk chalk.
We all need daily reminders to develop positive character traits.
What does all this mean for me? What BIG thoughts am I meant to be thinking? What positive character traits am I meant to be developing? What can I do that will help spread the message of Jesus to love, forgive, accept, hope, trust, persevere?
Madeline, thank you so much for sharing your BIG thoughts:
“But what if we focused our big thoughts on building, expanding and growing love, forgiveness, acceptance and compassion. What if we were excessive with kindness, gratitude and mercy? What if we focused our wants on others instead of ourselves? What if we thought big thoughts about goodness, curiosity and generosity?”
My deepest sorrow when I reunited with my family here in America, after more than 30 years of separation, is learning that they placed little value on such personal attributes. I don’t need an angel, my mother told me. She demanded something tangible. Others sought to take advantage of my kindness and generosity to serve their own ends.
Can we change our mentality to save ourselves? Only time will tell.
thank you, Rosaliene. I try to stay focused on myself and what I can do. I love this advice:
“People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have anyway.”
We cannot control or change others (and trying or hoping for it will only frustrate us); we can only put good into the world, plant seeds of kindness, forgiveness and love.
Thank you, Maureen
Reminds me of the “Think Big” projects in NZ in the ’80s about the time I left high school for a job in the city.. “Muldoon’s administration intended the Think Big projects to reduce New Zealand’s reliance on imports, especially oil, and thus improve the balance of payments.” Now when I come across the term I’ll think instead of this delightful blog-post, Madeline!
Thank you, Liz. So much in life is about reframing looking at things from different perspectives. My favorite thing now is when I offer something and the response is: “That’s too much.” Then I know I am being excessively generous, which is what God is asking of me. Maybe if you add “thoughts” (as in, think big thoughts) it can move you past the NZ campaign of the 80’s.
Oh my mind’s happy (even keen!) to make the switch re meaning, and “Think Big” is a nice little sound-bite, easily remembered 🙂 Love what you shared about being expansive and living “in the abundance that our God offers us”. Very good things to think about!