By Meghan Ryan | Photo courtesy of Visit South Walton
Good is a word we use for everything. When someone asks, “How are you?” the typical response is, “Good, how are you?”
What does “good” really say, though?
Add high volume, an enthusiastic tone, and a big smile, and “good” can translate to something exciting or positive. With a shoulder shrug, a little nod, and a somber tone it can mean things are less than great, but they aren’t bad. Good could mean anything or nothing at any given time.
When something is described as good, it rarely gives the full explanation. Throughout our education, English and grammar students learn to use a thesaurus to avoid using good as a noun or an adjective. As a word, it’s too vague and too cliché. The same could be said for its antonym, bad; However, “bad” is rarely used to describe how someone is doing. It’s easier to say, “Not good,” or, “Things have been better.” Bad becomes a bad word to use.
Good is used far too flippantly. When something is truly good, there is weight to it, but its value has diminished because the word isn’t being used in its proper context.
The world craves good and wants to avoid bad. Look around, and you see people desperately longing for goodness. Turn on the news, and you’ll see one bad thing after another, from school shootings to arguments over political opinions. But scroll through social media, and there are perfectly curated highlight reels showing “the good life.” When people receive bad news or simply have a bad day, they tend to search for something good to fix it, even if it’s just looking through a virtual window at something good.
Too many “good” things don’t stay good for very long. The feeling of goodness might last, but it often fades quickly. Everyone likes what feels and tastes good—Instagram likes, food, sex, money, and everything in between are good things, but they won’t make the bad things go away.
It all goes back to the beginning when God created the world and all creatures and things in it, and He described all of it as good. From light to water, trees, and people, it was all goodness. It was the kind of good humanity can’t comprehend, but something inside us wishes it could.
Goodness is swimming against the current of all that is wrong with the world and trying to make things right again.
A couple of chapters into this story, there is a shift. Things are no longer good. One small decision separates the first man and woman from God, and therefore they separated themselves from all that was good. They chose to disobey God because they thought he was withholding something good. Ever since then, the world has been fighting to find its way back to the beginning, where goodness abounded. Over time we have created our own versions, but they don’t satisfy.
But here is the good news: what happened thousands of years ago is not the end of the story. Much later, God sent his son, Jesus, who is the essence of God himself—righteousness and goodness. Fully God and fully man, he lived the only real definition of a good life, which he ultimately sacrificed so we might have an eternal chance to experience it. Death, which we often see as the opposite of good, is what God uses to restore goodness forever.
We have to acknowledge the bad to enjoy the good. We can hold sorrow, hope, pain, and joy in the same hand. The day is coming when what is truly good will be restored and what is wrong will be made right.
In the meantime, we can experience goodness through the essence of being good. It is righteousness in action. Righteousness embodies justice, morality, and other characteristics that would naturally be described as good. Goodness is swimming against the current of all that is wrong with the world and trying to make things right again.
We remember the words of Romans 12:9: “let us cling to what is good.” Not our skewed definitions of it, but the true goodness of God that we experience through Jesus. By learning from Him, we can put our righteousness into action and give goodness away wherever we go.
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Meghan Ryan is a proud native and local of Seagrove Beach, Florida. Since graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Florida, she has spent time working in college ministry and the nonprofit world. Her passions outside of writing include teaching Pure Barre, reading, and traveling. If she’s not at the beach, she probably wishes she were there.