[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]E[/mk_dropcaps]ver wonder how many times a day you ask someone “How are you doing?” And how many times you give the automated response “I’m good.” In a recent poll they found it was an average of 30 times a day (ok I made that up). It does make you wonder though, how often is that really the truth? How often do we use it as a way to deflect keeping us from having to be vulnerable and real? Granted it is not always warranted to share, based off the situation or the audience, but I do believe the fact we have an automated response to this means we forget to answer genuinely: “How am I really doing?” One reason why I love the Christmas season is it naturally promotes reflection. Even if you are not prone to thinking back most of us will at least think about where we were last year compared to this year. Doing so can be either encouraging causing you to overflow with gratefulness, or quite honestly there can be a sting of disappointment or discouragement. If the later is the case we try to hide away all the bad becoming almost like robots. After all our culture prioritizes the image we project, not the reality. That leaves little room for the pain we may be enduring to have an outlet so the default becomes shoving it into a dark corner and covering it up. Because everyone else seems to be doing ok we can become convinced this actually works as a way to rid of pain. I am sure you would agree with me that is not the case. What if instead of hiding or covering up our pain we admitted we have it more freely?
Now this is not to take on the mentality of a victim or having a negative attitude. Rather what I am talking about is having the courage to be real. Take the mask of “It’s all good” off when it really is not all good. When we are discouraged or disappointed there is a healthy way to express it, to work through it, and move past it. There can be an inclination to swing to the other end of the spectrum from those who wear a mask to over sharing and fixating on all that is wrong. No one wants to be a mess on legs, and no one wants to have to put on a mask and pretend to have “it” all together when it is not. That leaves us wrapping up the mix of challenges, joys, successes and failures in one bubble of “good.” Good is good and all, but can be un-relatable if we take it too mean things are perfect and we have no problems. Why not choose to see “good” as the place where you can acknowledge when there is pain under the surface, and at the same time chose to not let it hold you.
Due to facing a lot of personally stretching moments these last few weeks, I have become intimately associated with disappointments and discouragements. It has left me a bit edgy. So much so that hearing people brush off comments I make with the statement “It will all be good” has felt just like sandpaper. This is to no fault of their own let me be clear. I have even caught myself saying “things are good” without a thought, and frustrated with myself when I hear it.
Why all this frustration associated with “good”? My response took me aback with how agitated I got. I have nothing against good. I want to live a good life. I want everyone to live a good life. After reflecting and praying about it some the understanding hit. What frustrates me is using “good” is when it is used to gloss over the fact that good means there still is struggle. Good does not mean perfect. And to fully appreciate the good means we have become intimately aware with both the bad and the ugly.
Now lets look to what the Bible has to say about the “good.” When God created the world He repeatedly said it was “good” (Genesis 1). In Genesis 1: 26-30 after creating man God calls out the identity, purpose of man and prays a blessing over us.
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good.- Gen 1:31[/mk_blockquote]
When we have a deeper understanding that we are made in the image of Christ (our identity is as sons and daughters), and we activate our purpose things go from good to very good… why not go ahead and call it great?!
How can we do that?
Jesus himself said it.
[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. -John 14:12[/mk_blockquote]
Because of Jesus we are not only good in the eyes of God but we will do greater.
To not miss the power of this lets pause to take a minute and dig into what is good and what is great:
The definition of good it is both:
-to be desired or approved of
-to have the qualities required for a particular role
Great on the other hand takes it a step further:
-above normal or average.
God did not make us to only be good and do good, but we are made for greatness. The frustration when we settle in the good is that we can become complacent. Good is good, but not the whole picture. It certainly is not void of trails and work.
And let us not forget that God even has blessed us in our purpose. We are to operate in dominion. Dominion is to be in control or sovereign (supreme ruler). God gave us the earth to tend and keep it. God is the king of kings, he is our sovereign Lord but here on earth we are to carry out His business. There is more for us here on the earth to fulfill our purpose of “being fruitful and multiply.” That means growth and new levels.
To take your mask off means you accept that there are parts of us that are not good. That do not in the logical or natural make sense. In turning those weaknesses, insufficiencies over to God and taking Him at His word that we are created in His image means we pick up His “very good”. To encourage each other on to growth does not mean we ignore or hide that we are flawed. Rather I believe in facing our own flaws we give each other permission do the same. We are set free from a self imposed standard that good means there is nothing bad or ugly present. His blessing was not “be perfect and have no flaws.” His blessing was to grow. In growth there is pruning, some death, stretching or even pain. We cannot be ok to stay the same. Often that indicates we are actually on a path headed the opposite direction we desire.
This month be bold to take off the mask. Face your flaws, with those who are trusted talk about them, and seek council to step forward into growth. Create space for your friends to go there too. Ask the question “how are you really doing?” Remember, God made you in His image. You already possess all you need to accomplish the purpose He set before you. This 2015 will not be perfect, there will be some bad and ugly moments. But in those moments we have the power to see how God has set us above our circumstances and set us on the foundation of faith in His goodness in all areas, especially where we lack.