Oh my goodness…

 

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The sixth fruit of the Spirit is goodness, which was surprisingly difficult to define. For instance, the dictionary defined it as “the quality of being good”.

What?

Since the New Testament was originally written in Greek, to gain some clarity, I looked up the Greek word for goodness, which is agathosune.

Agathosune is defined as “intrinsic goodness, especially as a personal quality, with emphasis on the kindly (rather than the righteous) side of goodness.”

To have agathosune means to have goodness for the benefit of others and not goodness simply for the sake of being virtuous.

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The four gospels in the Bible are filled with examples of Jesus doing good to everyone regardless of their social status, gender, race, political views, or moral compass. He also did good to his enemies. Even as He was being crucified on the cross, His words extended grace toward those who were putting him to death. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.”

Acts 10:38 sums up Jesus’ life perfectly by saying that He “went about doing good”. Jesus was the epitome of goodness.

What about me? Could I be described as being the epitome of goodness?

If I’m being honest, the answer is no. It’s not that I go about doing evil. It’s just that, all too often, I get in the way of my own good intentions. I get preoccupied with my life, my problems, my hopes, my dreams… in a word, preoccupied with me.

Doing good is not intended to be an event. True goodness should be a way of life… just as it was with Jesus. My prayer is that God’s goodness will continually flow through my life so that I will consistently – and habitually – go about doing good to others.

For goodness sake…

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Getting to know me…

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One of the blogs I follow recently posted questions and answers designed to help the readers get to know her.  I admire her honesty and transparency in doing such an exercise – http://jennadee222.wordpress.com/2013/12/09/getting-to-know-you/, and thought I would follow in her footsteps by answering the same questions here.

What is your real name and where do you live?

My real name is Joy.  When I was born, I was given the name Alda Joy, with Alda being my maternal grandmothers first name.  I was called Joy from birth but, after 9/11, the province I was living in wanted everyone to officially use their first name, for security purposes.  Rather than be forced to start using my first name, I chose to legally drop it.  So, my birth certificate simply reads “Joy”.  As for where I live, I’m a Canadian who currently lives in Calgary, Alberta.

What makes you sad?

Insensitivity. Suffering. Unkindness.

What are your major mistakes?

I’ve made some epic mistakes in my life – enough to fill a book – but my major mistake in recent history was my last marriage. I knew it was a terrible mistake just two days in but I stuck with it for 11 years and 3 weeks, hoping it would change for the better.

But, the thing about mistakes is that we all make them.  I am a different person – much stronger and wiser – for having made my mistakes.  Instead of being defeated by them, I have chosen to use them as stepping stones.

When was the last time you cried?

Yesterday.  I am an emotional person, and things like kindness and happiness can bring tears as much as sadness and disappointment.  But, the saddest I’ve been in a very long time was Easter Monday 2012 when my beloved dog, Max, had to be put down just 3 days after getting terribly sick (the tests showed he had a massive intestinal tumor).  He was only 7 years old.  For a number of reasons, he was my guardian angel and will always have a very special place in my heart.

What makes you angry?

I’m more apt to get upset than angry.  But, something relatively simple like people driving erratically, impatiently, or dangerously in traffic has the ability to get to me like few other things.  I’m working on it though!

What is your most recent happiest memory?

It happened just last Friday when I was offered THE ultimate job.  It was the culmination of several years of job uncertainty interspersed with bouts of unemployment.  To say I am thankful is an understatement!!!

When were you most scared?

Many years ago, my youngest brother, my son, and I climbed Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine (U.S.) at 5,269 feet.  I have a strong fear of heights so it took an act of will to make this climb, which involved not only going up and down the mountain but across ‘Knife’s Edge’ at the top of the mountain.  Mount Katahdin has claimed 19 lives since 1963, with a number of those being from falls from ‘Knife’s  Edge’, which narrows to 3 feet wide for about 3/10 of a mile.

It’s worthwhile mentioning that the climb was done without ropes or any special gear, just using handholds and footholds, with blue paint strategically spattered on the rocks to guide us.  It’s also worthwhile mentioning that overcoming my fear of heights in such a dramatic fashion inspired elation afterward like no other.  It was a life changing accomplishment.

When were you most brave?

I could answer this by saying climbing Mount Katahdin but I think I was most brave the day I fled my marriage with only what I could fit in my small car, and drove 3 provinces to start a new life in a new city with no place to live, no job, and knowing only 2 people.  The journey from then to today has not been easy but I have never regretted taking that leap of faith.

What haven’t you done that you wished you had done?

My goal is to see more of the world.  I am relatively well travelled but the majority of my experiences are more than 20 years ago so I would like to pick up where I left off.

What makes you different from most people?

I have experienced the lowest of the lows in many aspects of my life, and my life has also not followed any kind of predictable course.  But, we all have a different story of our lives, and that’s what makes us unique and interesting.  I hope others will appreciate my differences as much as I try to appreciate theirs.

Who has influenced your life?

My relationship with Jesus Christ is the single greatest influence of my life since 1996.  My grandparents were also tremendous influences in my life… my maternal grandfather, in particular.  I learned invaluable lessons like kindness, giving, doing the right thing, humor, wisdom, staying young at heart, and being an inspiration to others just from watching how he lived his life.  I still miss him.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned?

I’ve learned that no mistake is an end, in and of itself, as long as you resolve not to let it be.  And, that doing the right thing, staying true to what you believe, and being a person of character and integrity is always, always, always worth it.  Even and especially when it means taking the tougher road (which it usually does…).

YES

If you’re humble and you know it… well…

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I find humility to be an interesting attribute because, if you think you have it, you almost certainly don’t.  It’s one of those things that others notice about someone else while the person in question generally remains oblivious.

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The thing about humility is that you don’t become humble by trying to be humble.  You become humble by taking the focus off yourself.  That’s easier said than done because most people like attention whether they admit it or not.  I’m not saying attention is bad, in and of itself… it’s how you handle it.  I think that’s why the more attractive, charismatic, famous or popular a person is, the more difficult it is for them to be humble.

It takes tremendous discipline to not believe your own press.

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I am a huge C.S. Lewis fan.  He had the gift of clarity.  So, not surprisingly, I love his definition of humility.

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He expands that definition to include this truth…

“As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”

Humility always looks up.

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I don’t know about you but I’ve met lots of nice, kind and/or caring people.  But I’ve rarely met truly humble people.  Humble people touch your life in a deep and unique way.  You don’t forget them.  It’s also not unusual to find that humble people have experienced deep hardship, failure and/or loss in their lives.

Humility is often born from great difficulty.

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I want to be humble.  I want to stand out from the rest because of who I am as a person.  I want to be secure in who I am as a person but not focused on myself.  I want to give more than I take.  I want to be the opposite of self-centred, selfish, and egocentric.  I don’t want pride in my life.  I want my life to reflect Jesus, the most humble – and only perfect – person to ever walk the face of the earth.

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According to Mother Teresa – an extraordinary example of humility – these are a few of the ways we can practice being humble:

Speak as little as possible about one’s self.
Mind one’s own business.
Don’t desire to manage other people’s affairs.
Avoid curiosity.
Accept contradictions and correction cheerfully.
Pass over the mistakes of others.
Accept insults and injuries.
Accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.
Be kind and gentle even under provocation.
Never stand on one’s dignity.
Always choose the hardest.

The bad news?

I realize just how far I am from being humble.

The good news?

That realization may well be the seeds of humility.

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