Thought Conditioners are short scriptures with little descriptions that Dr. Norman Vincent Peale wrote about in a small booklet many years ago. Today I turned to Thought Conditioner #7, which is one of my favorites.
I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. —John 10:10
I was catechized in a post-Vatican II church. I was not forced to memorize the Baltimore Catechism, but was taught that Jesus loves me. My memories of Religious Ed are filled with fun and laughter and movies and games. And love. As I grew, I wanted to learn more and more about Jesus and the Bible and the Catholic Church and Christianity and religion and theology and holiness. Each step of the way, the fact that I am a beloved child of God was emphasized.
I know that God so loved the world that Jesus was sent into the world to show us love and teach us love and give us an eternity of love. When I read and reflect on this sentence from John’s gospel, I have no problem believing it. Jesus came that we might have life, and that life not be just existence, not just survival, but ABUNDANCE. I believe every word of it – in theory. My struggle is with living out that belief in my day to day life. If Jesus came that I might have life more abundantly, it will change my attitude toward everyday tasks.
When I drag myself out of bed in the morning, grumbling and complaining, and growl and yell at other drivers on my morning commute, I am forgetting that Jesus came that I might have abundant life. When I trudge through the day, never noticing that there is beauty and grace all around me, I am telling the world (and myself) that I don’t really believe that my life can be abundant. When I allow ordinary daily tasks to overwhelm me, I miss the joy of living life abundantly. Ordinary, survival, mundane, existence, maintenance – these are not words of abundant life. This is not the life I profess to believe in and is not the way I want to live my life.
How do I live life abundantly? How do I hold the promise of this thought conditioner in my mind and heart all throughout the day? I think the first step is to focus on being mindful. I need to commit this sentence to memory and bring it to mind several times each day. I need to focus and notice times when I am slipping into “survival” mode. Of course, in every day there are some mundane tasks that must be completed. But I want to notice my focus. Do I focus on the dreariness, or am I looking for beauty everywhere. Am I thinking of the next item on my to do list, or am I taking the time to offer a smile to each person I see. Am I interspersing dull tasks with things that bring me joy – music, laughter, fun, sunshine, fresh air.
Jesus did not come so that I can get the dishes done. Jesus came so that I can have a song in my heart while I am doing the dishes. Jesus did not come so that we can buy a new car every five years. Jesus came so that our car can be full of people that we love, so that our conversations in the car can be life-giving. Jesus did not come so that I can worry about the future. Jesus came to bring me peace and abundance. Jesus came so that my life could be filled with positive energy and so that I can find delight in the world around me. It’s my goal to remember that.