Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Thoughts on becoming "good"

Reflection on Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation, find it here.

Am I a good person?

Not the smallest of questions with which to start off my 30-day blogging commitment, but it happened to be a question that came to mind by Christian mystic, pastor, and author Richard Rohr... so let's go with it!

The answer we would like to come to is "yes" and in the easiest and quickest way possible. I'm a good person because I help my friends, I treat others fairly, I donate to charity, etc. The good outweighs the bad. Or, if I'm not so sure about that, I at least mean well. If being good to others isn't my measure, perhaps I'm good because I'm good at business, sports, or getting laughs. 

We have a "deep but deceptive human need to 'think well of one's self"", says Rohr. I'd agree with him on intuition and that desire seems like it fuels a lot of our actions. I for one try to improve at hockey - even at age thirty, and I'm not exactly bragging about my failings on Facebook. But - innocent stuff aside - what does he mean by "deceptive"? Is it not 'good' to think of ourselves as... 'good'?" 

The deceptive part is that we  can easily allow ourselves to believe that it is us and us alone with the responsibility to show that we are good. To me, there's something overly burdensome and (thankfully) not true about the idea that it's all up to us. When we succeed at being good, there is no problem. But eventually we all fail one way or another. Whether we hurt someone we love or experience our bodies become sick or die.

The good news is that you and I are good at our core: both loved and accepted by God, as I would put it. We are totally and unapologizingly worthy of thinking well of ourselves! (By the way... is it possible the Bible is one big long account of God trying to convince us of this? Or perhaps, us slowly and brokenly coming to accept this? I'm not a "real theologian" so keep that in mind!) If you've heard much of Christianity you've probably heard of the concept of "Original Sin", which Rohr figures is more about the inevitability of sins happening or their effects being inherited from our parents / past generations. Thankfully we're not a bunch of shitty people with a huge to-do list to become good people.

The weird thing in what he's saying is that... our goodness is connected at the hip to our 'not goodness'. We're going to make mistakes. We're going to fail. We're going to die. We will be weak and we will be losers... little Trump reference here.... 

"Donald Trump recently said he's 'a great Christian'. That needs a serious fact check, I think. What he's talking about...
Posted by Mike Friesen on Monday, December 28, 2015

...but God loves us anyway and transforms us because of that. When I think about this it strikes me how comforting / discomforting that is. Discomforting because it's basically saying "count on hardships... lots of them". The comforting part is that it's transformation for the better... although I'm 100% not trying to join the "let's wrap everything up in a nice neat bow" club by any means.

What's my takeaway? My takeaway is that we are loved at our most inner, intimate core, meaning we should be patient with ourselves mess up or are in any way less than we'd like. Call it failure, sin, weakness, suffering - whatever we'd like - but when we approach those things with humility and with... the hope that an impossible beauty can emerge from those things, we're somehow growing closer to God. 

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