by Amanda Weitman
This year, all of us at Adventure Unlimited are exploring the idea of what it means to live generously – with a clear sense of the abundant good God provides. Amanda Weitman is a parent of a 2014 DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council (NLC) graduate, and mentor of a current NLC student. She is also Senior Vice President – Wealth Advisor at Wells Fargo. The following is an excerpt from Amanda’s keynote address on the importance of Living Generously – the theme of this year’s NLC All Class Retreat.
I love talking, thinking and putting into practice generous living. I love it so much I decided to incorporate it into my job so that I could learn more about it and experience it more often. I even started an advisor book club at work focusing on philanthropy so I could keep learning. It makes me happy, it gives me a sense of purpose and I feel fulfilled. There is actually a name for how giving makes you feel. It is called a Helper’s High.
I also have found this interesting phenomena around giving. The more I give the more I get. I have a friend at work who has experienced the same thing. The more money we give the more money flows back into our lives. It is really fascinating.
When living a generous life I think we all have the same two choices – we can start from a human standpoint or we can start from a divine standpoint. Both choices are full of love and compassion but one goes further to include the truth of being and as we will discover, to be truly impactful and effective, you need both Truth and Love working together to make a lasting and meaningful difference.
So today we are going to focus on those things that help us start from a divine standpoint and then we are going to cover the different ways we can express generosity in our daily lives to create a positive difference in our world.
Mrs. Eddy wrote “To begin rightly is to end rightly.” Who in this room is an athlete, a dancer, a musician, a mathematician or a scientist? You all know you have to start with the fundamentals if you want to excel. When I was in elementary school, I would go to the tennis club with my parents. While they played tennis, I would grab an extra racket and start hitting the ball against the back board. I figured out on my own how to consistently hit the ball right above the line on the wall again and again.
However, when my parents decided it was time for me to have tennis lessons, the tennis pro told me that I had to relearn my swing because it was not fundamentally correct and it would limit my play as I progressed. The fault in my swing was not obvious at my beginner level but as the speed and the strength of my game increased, the faults would become really obvious. So I relearned how to swing my racket and my foot work which allowed me to progress more rapidly.
You will find that this is also true in living a generous life. If you don’t start with the right fundamentals, your progress will be halted and your impact will be limited.
So my starting point is God as the origin of all being.
The Bible tells us, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” And She went on to create every good idea. She created man in Her own image; “male and female created She them.” And God blessed everything She made and each individual idea She saw as good. But then God stepped back and looked at the big picture of everything She had made and how it worked together and She said that was very good.
Creating every concept as good was not God’s defining moment. Creating every good concept that would always work well together 100% of the time with no interruptions, now that was Her defining moment. And God even said so Herself – the whole creation working together is not just good – it is very good.
Why is this important? Mrs. Eddy says “When the illusion of sickness or sin tempts you cling steadfastly to God and His idea.” Well, what is His idea? What is God’s master plan? His idea is 100% unlimited good harmonizing perfectly 100% of the time with no interruptions. That is what we are supposed to cling to no matter what our limited senses are telling us. This is how you begin aright.
How does this tie into living a generous life? There are many very loving, caring, generous people who are doing their best to alleviate suffering in our world. They start from the standpoint that suffering is real and they are going to do their best to minimize it and hopefully eradicate it. From their standpoint, suffering is something that needs our attention because it is real.
If God’s master plan is 100% unlimited good harmonizing perfectly 100% of the time with no interruptions, then suffering cannot be real. It sure seems to be real and people sure seem to be suffering but fundamentally that can’t be true if God’s master plan is true.
People definitely believe suffering is real but I have read that a belief is just an opinion that has been given loyalty over time. If it goes unchallenged it continues to persist. Those that believe God’s master plan is true can challenge any belief unlike good, unlike love, and break that cycle of belief and introduce a new concept.
Stephen Covey tells us “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are – or as we are conditioned to see it.” We see what we know. If people have been taught that suffering and disease and lack are possibilities, they won’t question them when they appear. If you know God’s master plan, you are in the position to see something different than others, you can see what God created which is perfect harmony all of the time. You can help others see this too and set them free to experience a happier and more harmonious life.
Our Sunday School class ran an experiment regarding beginning rightly and ending rightly. The class was asked to leave the building and with the building to their back go right to the first intersection. At that intersection they were to go left until the next intersection and then go left again. Our church property has two buildings. Where they began was going to make a big difference as to where they ended.
They chose to put the Sunday School building to their back and followed the directions however by the time they were on the local high school campus and had run out of intersections they realized that maybe they hadn’t started at the right spot. So they course corrected.
This time they started with the church building to their backs and followed the directions and they ended up at the best donut shop in town, Johnny’s Donuts. To begin rightly truly is to end rightly. Start with God’s master plan of all good.
When beginning rightly, you also need to understand the resources available to you. The understanding that generosity flows from unlimited resources is really important.
To be generous, you have to understand the substance you are working with. Are you working with limited views or unlimited? Your desire to be generous and how generous will depend on whether you feel like you are sharing limited or unlimited resources.
This past year I realized that I did not really understand the practical aspect of the concepts of Spirit and matter. I got that they were opposites but Spirit you can’t see and matter we can see but apparently it isn’t real. It seemed like I was living in a dual universe and that did not make sense to me if there is only one Creator. As I was reaching out to God for clarification on this question, the idea came to me to replace the word Spirit with the word unlimited and replace the word matter with the words limit, limited or limitations.
I tested this out with the Scientific Statement of Being to see if these concepts made more sense to me.
“There is no life, truth, intelligence nor substance in limits.”
That made sense to me since limits are meant to be broken. And limits only seem real until someone breaks through them and opens the way for others.
Since the first modern day Olympics which were in 1896 no one had run 1 mile faster than 4 minutes. Roger Bannister, a Brit, achieved this feat in 1954 with a time of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. It took 58 years for someone to run a mile under 4 minutes. Once it happened, it only took 46 days to beat the new record. And in the 2016 Olympic games, all 13 runners in the finals broke the 4 minute mark. This is the new normal. Roger Bannister opened the way for all long distance runners to break down the limit of time.
“All is unlimited Mind and its unlimited manifestation, for God is All-in-all.”
As a reflection of Mind, it totally makes sense that the reflection of unlimited Mind must also be unlimited.
“The Unlimited is immortal Truth; limitations are dying lies.”
“The Unlimited is the real and eternal; limits are the unreal and temporary.”
“The Unlimited is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not limited he is unlimited.”
This last statement is what resonated with me the most. It was logical that as God’s image and likeness that if God is unlimited then we have to be unlimited. And that our goal in life, our purpose for being, is to continually break through world imposed and self-imposed limits until we reach that amazing point where we understand, express and experience our unlimited nature.
With this new way of looking at Spirit and matter, I word swap all throughout the lesson now. One day I shared with my daughter, Alexandra, a paraphrase from MBE that “limited thinking or thinking we are limited is the worst foe of the body while unlimited Mind is its best friend.” And what that meant to me was that when you are at camp, going on your adventure and exploration trips, doing community service work or helping to support the CS community, you are not exercising your bodies to get stronger and faster, you are not overcoming fear with raw courage, you are not helping poor unfortunate people, you are exercising your thinking and breaking through mental limits, challenging self- imposed limits and supporting and cheering others as they break through their mental limits. Basing your generosity on God’s unlimited nature will make you far more generous than if you feel like you are giving up limited resources to help others.
In the last year, I have totally gotten into spin classes. One of the instructors always says if something isn’t serving us, just let it go. For me, I realized, limits and limitations don’t serve me at all and I apparently can just let them go. That seemed way to easy and I wondered why everyone wouldn’t just do it, but then I realized that most of us have great conviction and belief that limitations are real, inevitable and insurmountable and it doesn’t even occur to us to challenge them. But it just takes one person to challenge a limiting belief and open the way for others. Are you going to be that person? Will this be how you contribute generously to our world?
There is a school of thought, consistent with Christian Science, that affirms that scarcity is the lie and sufficiency is the truth. Paul Zaiter writes, ”There is a natural law of abundance which pervades the entire universe, but it will not flow through a doorway of belief in lack and limitation.” To truly live a generous life, Paul is telling us that we have to eliminate the belief in lack and limitation to see the natural law of abundance. In your own volunteer work, you may see lack as the pervading issue. Lack of money; lack of a home; lack of health; lack of opportunity; lack of a job; lack of education. You can now challenge this sense of lack as not being insurmountable and you can declare that the natural law is abundance.
Philanthropist and author, Lynne Twist, says there are three toxic myths of the belief in scarcity. The first is that there is not enough. The second is that more is better and the third is that is just the way it is. Lots of very generous people approach their giving based on these lies. To make sure your life of generosity is unimpeded and unlimited, you need to start with the truth that sufficiency is the law.
Lynne goes on to say that when you take a stand for this truth of sufficiency, you work differently. She explains, regarding her conviction that persistent hunger can be eradicated on our planet, “That’s where I stand, and when you take that stand and work from there, you take different actions than you do when you believe that hunger is inevitable and your effort is to try to make it “not so bad”. When you know with certainty that things can be not just different but entirely resolved, you engage in the work in a more fundamental way. You don’t wonder “if”. You determine “how to”. You look at root causes. You make different choices.”
Sounds a lot like prayer and healing, doesn’t it? Taking a stand based on Truth gives you a perfect jumping off point to truly living life generously.
This is an excerpt from Amanda Weitman’s keynote address. To read the full talk, download the PDF:
Download Full Keynote Address