What is your typical response when someone asks, “How are you?”
Most of us throw out a knee-jerk, automated response of “I’m good”, whether we are teetering on the verge of the flu or have just enjoyed an awesome week. “Good” becomes the third statement in the unholy trinity of initiating conversation; it comes right after “Hello” and “How are you?”.
I admit that “good” has been my typical response too. However, when someone who knows us well asks that question they’ve already read the answer in our eyes. This brings about another question,
They see that we’re not as “good” as we pretend.
The truth is … none of us are good.
Jesus told the rich, young ruler, “No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) Then he called the faithful servant who cared for his master’s money “good” – which might be better translated as “capable”. (Luke 19:17) Joseph of Arimathea who provided a tomb for Jesus’ body was described as “good”- which might equal the word “generous”. (Luke 23:50). Barnabas was a “good” man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. (Acts 11:24)
But notice, not one of these people – not even Jesus – described themselves as good!
I know this sounds like I’m splitting hairs and perhaps returning to my old legalistic ways, but I assure you, it’s just the opposite!
When I answer “good”, what I’m really saying most times is, “Some things are not really good, but I don’t want to talk about it.” That returns my thoughts to the things that may be out-of-kilter in my everyday, ordinary life— sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life (Romans 12:1, MSG), and that is what people see rather than the joy I’ve found in Jesus.
As I try to become more AUTHENTIC in 2018, I’ve thought long and hard about an automatic response I could substitute for “good”. I considered using “blessed” because I have indeed been blessed far beyond what I deserve, but then I realized that with my propensity toward pride, “blessed” sounded too much like I was bragging. Then, I thought about just using “I’m okay”, but that sounded like I was begging to spill what was not okay. I’ve finally settled on the perfect response for me that neither brags nor begs. Please know that I don’t expect you to use it! I won’t judge you for saying “good” or “blessed”. This is just what I needed to reframe my attitude so that the Spirit of Jesus has a better shot at shining through my eyes.
So, my new response?
Turning my focus in that split second to all that I am thankful for should allow others to see my inner joy shining through grateful, smiling eyes. Whether it’s a fine day or a not-so-fine day, my thoughts speed with laser-like accuracy toward GOD’S goodness!
I (and all of us) have so very much to be thankful for! Just thinking about all the many ways I’ve seen God at work in just the last few months drops me to my knees. God is so good to me. As one of my sweet friends, overwhelmed by God’s goodness, tearfully said Sunday night, “He’s just so good to me. I love Him so much!”
Indeed! GOD is good, and He IS so very GOOD to all of us!
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15)
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; though not seeing him now, you believe in him, and you rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8-9)
(For more on this kind of inexpressible joy, see this week’s post, “Are You Indescribable?” at http://leanintojesus.com/blog/.)