What do you think of when you hear the word goodness?
Webster’s dictionary defines goodness as:
1) the quality or state of being good
2) —used interjectionally or in a phrases especially to express mild surprise or shock
3) the nutritious, flavorful, or beneficial part of something
For myself I think of a car ride I had recently with a beloved friend. In our conversation, I was lamenting some hard things that were transpiring in my life and I said to my friend, “Man I was really hoping 2021 was going to be a good year!”
My friend with a wry smile on her face told me that she does not remember having a good year, that life had seemed to roll from one hard thing into the next. If I am really honest with all of you, I was surprised by friend’s response. She is a person that oozes joy…on top of that she is a few years older than me, so I wondered at her answer. Surely she has had one entire year of goodness. Right? Who doesn’t have a good year from time to time?
I mean we have all read or watched Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert details a year of traveling, eating, and transformation on the heals of a devastation. She had a good year…I wanted my good year. I wanted my friend to tell me that their was a break, that there was a guarantee of one year, 365 days, without struggle or pain or heartache or disappointment.
That did not seem like too much to ask. My family has experienced more than our fair share of pain and we deserved a break. One good year did not seem like too much to request or want. My friend’s answer was disappointing, but it left me curious, so I asked her, “What do you mean?”
I can still her the timber and tone in my friend’s voice as she responded. Her words were steady and true.
“I have not known a good year my dear BUT I have KNOWN GOODNESS.”
You see, like so many, at that moment I wanted goodness to equal ease. I wanted it to be a life full of comfortable and luxurious living far away from the reality of my day to day experience. I wanted goodness to exclude wrestling with hard truths or the tears of sadness and heartache. I wanted goodness to be created and cultivated around what I thought best for myself. I wanted to determine for myself the definition of goodness.
There are others that have wanted to do the same. Scripture is full these accounts: Adam and Eve; Cain and Able; Abraham and Sarah; Judah and Tamar; Joseph’s brother; Jacob; and many many more. All of them at various points have grappled with the same desire. Since the beginning of mankind people have wanted to define goodness by their circumstances or their experiences of life, BUT that is not how goodness is defined. True Goodness is not defined by a dictionary. True Goodness is not determined by our thoughts and feelings regarding a particular experience or circumstance.
TRUE Goodness ends and begins with God. Only He can define goodness for us because He alone is truly good. God is the standard and source of all goodness that we experience in this world. At the beginning of time when God created the earth, He called all that He had made good. He reiterated it multiple times, not because He needed to know that it was good but because we did. God wanted to make clear to us that all that He created oozed His essence, goodness.
So if you have ever found yourself, like me, longing for a good year or a taste of goodness in your life, it is important to remember it is not found in our experiences, circumstances, feelings or other people. Goodness cannot be found in the accumulation of stress-free days. Goodness can only be derived from the source. God is good and the only way to truly experience goodness is through deep and meaningful relationship with Him.
Liz Woodruff is a devoted wife and the best all-boy mom I know. She loves reading and learning, traveling, working out and being our local Bible Study Fellowship’s Substitute Teaching Leader. She volunteers her time at her church and is always up for the next adventure. As one who has tasted the depths of grief yet the goodness of God, she reveals her heart through authentic, beautiful words. I am grateful she allows me to share them with you. You can find Liz guest posting here from time-to-time, at the pool with her boys, the lake with her family, or in an airplane learning to fly.