I recently went to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. While there my family and I took most of a day to explore the cave. When I got home I was asked to teach the women in my congregation about True Greatness. I couldn’t help but see parallels between this great cave I had visited and learned about and what I believe true greatness is. I decided to share here because I think so many times we tend to get caught up in what everyone else thinks greatness means instead of looking within ourselves or looking to our God or higher power for what it really means.
So there are 5 points to finding your True Greatness.
- Giving constant effort in the little things. Caves are formed deep in the ground away from view, not in one big fantastic bang, but slowly and constantly. Caves form when water slowly and constantly dissolves the rock. When we do little things to better our lives and the lives of those around us and we give a constant effort; pretty soon you can start to see changes for the better. So What are “little things?” they could be as simple as giving your coworker a smile and a hello even if you don’t feel like it. It could be taking the extra time to help your child get ready with your help- even though they could do it on their own. Its taking in your neighbors trash can so they don’t have to. These little things are not big and flashy, just like a cave most of the time they go unnoticed.
- Persevering in the difficulties, serving in ways that go unnoticed. Here’s a question to ask your self: do you ever have a hard or difficult day, week, month or even year? Maybe you had a bad hair day, maybe it was so bad your friend said you looked like you had been electrocuted–yikes! Maybe your having a super stressful week because of multiple things going on in your life, maybe it goes on for a month or even a year…. What do you do? Do you wallow in your sad, stressed out feelings, or do you push through it? How do you preserver? When it rains, water soaks into the ground and eventually makes its way through cracks in the rock to ground water deep in the earth, to form a cave water travels down cracks in the rock slowly dissolving the rock over time. It never stops or gives up it keeps going keeps moving. In our lives when we have a difficult time we have to keep going, never give up. One of the best ways to get your head out of the negative feelings you have about the difficulty you are in is to look for ways to serve or uplift someone else. My Grandmother was dieing of Cancer, but she was always more concerned with how we were doing then focusing on her own health problems. She was always happy. She never gave up and did everything she could to lift up someone else, and that put a smile on her face.
- True Greatness requires consistent, small and ordinary steps over a long period of time. Once the ground water lowers below the cave level you still have water trickling down to join the ground water. It has to pass through the cave and in the process it dissolves calcite and then deposits it as it drips from the cave ceiling to the floor. Drip, drip, drip over hundreds of thousands of years and the water forms stalactites and stalagmites in the cave. The water is like our consistent small, ordinary steps to true greatness. Not the big flashy things the world may tell us are greatness but the small things we do everyday to live a good life. Taking care of your kids, their needs and driving them to soccer practice, taking time to read with them or spending 5 extra minutes with your spouse or a friend that needs some encouragement, even if you feel you don’t have time. What do those things become?
- Common positive tasks have the greatest effect on others. If you’ve ever been in a cave you may have noticed that the stalactites grow much faster then the stalagmites. The stalagmites are the positive effect of water (small steps) dripping in the same spot over and over, eventually the stalactite and stalagmite with join together forming a beautiful column. If we go around with the intent to help others in a positive way, people will start to notice and you will see the crankiest person become a little nicer! In college I had a roommate that was extremely difficult to live with or even really like, but I made the choice to be nice to her and eventually she started being nicer to me and even lowering her guard and cranky attitude to get to know me back. I count her as my friend today, I learned to love her and we are still in contact to this day.
- Finally to have true greatness you must do the things God or your Higher Power has asked you to do. Like treat others as you would like to be treated. Be kind and not pass judgement on others. These things lead to life, or a better life for you and those around you. In a cave eventually it can open to the Earth’s surface and give life to creatures like birds, bats, raccoons and other animals. Ultimately it supports life, is a beautiful work of art and shows its true greatness to the the world for all to see, if they know where to look. True Greatness doesn’t come from flashy, fast, in your face change, true greatness comes from the small little things we do every day to better our own life and the lives of those around us. True Greatness is not asked for or demanded it is given to the ones who never seek it. It is given to the ones who would do everything to make someone else happy or make a difference without asking for anything in return. True Greatness is given to the humble who do what they do because they love others and they love who they have become because of it, it is not selfish or arrogant. It is the simple love one has for his fellow men, and the courage to act on that for good every day.