I overheard two clerks in a pet store having a chuckle as they discussed a woman who had just left the store.
The customer had purchased a bigger tank because her fish had outgrown their smaller one. The clerks were amused by the fact that the customer didn't realize that her fish would only grow to the size of the tank and that soon the customer would be back, buying still another even bigger tank.
I didn't know this fact about fish, and, as I listened, I thought back on the tanks I had purchased over the years for the same reason.
The concept of fish growing only as big as the tank allows started me thinking. I saw a parallel between fish growing in a tank of a limited size and the way I sometimes think about myself or my life, within a "tank" of my own.
Thinking based on a material sense of things is, in a sense, confined by walls; one can only grow to the limits of one's thoughts. But spiritual ideas know no borders and admit infinite possibilities.
A passage from "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," written by the founder of this newspaper, Mary Baker Eddy, has helped me understand the need to drop human opinions and be more receptive to the spiritual sense of things.
She wrote: "Through all the disciples experienced, they became more spiritual and understood better what the Master had taught. His resurrection was also their resurrection. It helped them to raise themselves and others from spiritual dulness and blind belief in God into the perception of infinite possibilities" (page 34).
Without the "perception of infinite possibilities," we think "in the tank." And in-the-tank thinking leads to in-the-tank living.
For example, for most of my life I thought I would never be able to write. Although I wrote weekly letters to my grandmother for 13 years, I considered that possible only because she loved me and wouldn't notice that I couldn't spell and that my grammar was lacking.
I held tightly to this lowly opinion, which was formed early in my life. I backed it up with a lot of human logic: Only someone with a college education could be published, there was no way I could ever be good enough, I'm a verbal person.
But underneath the limits of my thinking lay a deep desire to write and share with others. For years I prayed about this desire but was afraid to go forward.
Then I was a guest at an amazing retreat in Colorado, attended by some wonderful outreaching thinkers. While listening to some of them discuss metaphysical concepts, it dawned on me that to think that I couldn't do something well was egotistical.
I readily accepted God as the Creator of all that is good in my blossoming world, but somehow I thought of myself as capable of stopping God's goodness from expressing itself through me, when it came to writing.
Who did I think I was that I could stop God's goodness from being expressed, even by me? I had mistakenly considered my position as one of humility when it was just the opposite.
Reasoning that God is the source and the only author of all that is real and good, I accepted the fact that I could tune in to His amazing creative qualities and freely express them even though I had no training and was a grandma. God doesn't know anything about time or limits or training.
I could think outside the box of fear and doubt, and listen to and express more of the spiritual ideas always available to everyone at all times. I could be humble enough to be good and know that all that is good is from God.
The ideas and courage began to flow, and I've loved the resulting opportunities and amazing new adventure of writing. The walls of my mental fish tank are now expanding, and there is more unlimited growth with those limits gone.
With God, all things are possible, and because God is everywhere at all times and the source of all good, we are free to express all of His amazing qualities every moment of our lives.