Looking back, if I could use one word to describe what I wanted to be growing up, it was “good.” It didn’t seem to come natural as year after year I watched my classmates walk up to receive the “Christian Character Award” at our school’s end of the year program. In all my 13 school years, I never went home with that trophy (not that I was keeping track or anything). I assumed I was just not good enough.
All the teachers talked about what a good girl Elizabeth Noelle was. Her hair was always neatly done in two tight french braids. She was quiet and never got into trouble. She followed the rules to the letter. Her face was buried in her school work while mine was cupped in my hands trying to hold back a laugh…..well, more like a snort. She seemed to be everything I was not. I remember getting fed up with myself one day and I told my mom to give me two french braids just like Elizabeth. I can remember looking in the mirror determined that I was going to act like her from now on. I was going to be… good!
“Be good!” mom and dad would holler as I ran out the door to hang with friends in high school. “I will!” I always responded, but deep down I couldn’t really trust that I would. Not as good as a pastor’s daughter should be at least. So while being “good” wasn’t really materializing, I gravitated towards things I felt good doing. Sports, drama, working with kids; these were areas in which I could excel, so I felt affirmed and secure in moving toward them. It feels good to be good, right?
Fast forward a few years and I realized, to my shock, I could actually relate to the woman who lived in a shoe and had so many children she didn’t know what to do! Life comes at ya fast, right? I wanted desperately to be a good mom but I was struggling. This time I couldn’t run from what I wasn’t good at toward something that I was. God had me exactly where He wanted me to be. He was showing me that my obsession with being good had nothing to do with my behavior, but everything to do with a person – Him! He was drawing me in because He alone is good.
As I drew near to Him, He began to show me that He never called me to be good, He called me to be faithful– full of Him. When we live with the understanding that we should thrive only where we are good, we live for our own goodness and miss the goodness of God. We forgo the incredible strength that emerges from our weaknesses when we pursue our good over the One who is good.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
As a mom, I have learned that chasing good leaves me exhausted and defeated. So when my “be good” beeper circles back up with me, I know it’s just a reminder to draw near to the One who is. Out of Him flows all that is good. He is the good my heart is longing for and He is the good in me.