Goodness Me! is the name of a health food store franchise where I live in southern Ontario. Created in response to the founder’s health crisis and search for better answers and better food, Goodness Me! has been around for nearly 40 years.
Almost my own age.
Goodness Me is a great name for a health food store. But many of us have lost touch with the idea of good and our own goodness. We are plagued by the idea of good enough.
The phrase “good enough”, which is so ubiquitous in our culture, implies that there is something better than good.
Perfection, something without flaws, something pristine and ideal, is better than good. Isn’t it?
Why would we want good when we can have perfect?
The Genesis Story
I’m going to borrow a little bit here from the work of Rob Bell, in his RobCast episode 66 Good vs. Perfect.
When we look at the Genesis story as paraphrased in The Message we read:
God looked over everything he had made; it was so good, so very good!
Tov is the original Hebrew word in this passage, which we translate as “good” in English.
Tov (pronounced Tō-v) is a rich and expansive word. It has a deeper meaning than our English “good”. Tov is a celebration of life in all its diversity – birth, death, re-birth, seasons, warmth, cold, the messiness and sexiness of it all. From the very beginning, Being declares that Spirit inhabiting matter is good. Good is the fulfilled and intended state of things.
In common venacular, “it’s all good baby!”
In contrast, the Greeks gave us the word Telios. This is the ideal form, the pursuit of human achievement, attaining something that can’t be improved upon. It’s the Olympics and perfect human form, it’s excellence and precision.
Telios is a important contribution from the Greeks. It highlights the need for human growth and our latent potential.
However, there’s a dark side to perfect when an idealized standard is elevated at all costs. When the desire to improve becomes a quest for perfection and perfectionism. A rat-race trap I’m well acquainted with.
Tov as good is dynamic and moving, it has life to it. It’s going somewhere.
Telios as perfect is a static concept. An ideal to attain.
The problem with perfect is that it’s unattainable. Once you reach that ideal, the place you thought you’d feel complete upon arriving, you realize you don’t find fulfillment here. And so you’re always looking for the next level, the next pedestal.
You can keep improving till you die but never find rest and satisfaction, not knowing that you could have experienced a deep, abiding, and grounding sense of “good” all along.
This is a phrase we use often.
We can attach this phrase to ourselves and our work, our relationships and contribution to the world, and end up with the sense that we, as people, are not good enough.
This is dangerous territory. It implies we’re missing an ideal. We’ve fallen short, we are “less than”, we are lacking and flawed.
I am well familiar with this territory as I’ve walked it for years, starting from when I was very young.
I am grabbing hold of good as a powerful and potent word; messy, rich, and expansive. I am claiming it for myself and sharing it with you. You’re not less than, you’re not better than, you are good. Goodness is you. Goodness is me.
In our culture good has become runner-up to best. We want to achieve the most we can. We want to be awesome, front of the pack, top of the heap. This is the dominant message of the culture we live in.
We think good is something we settle for, not something to embrace and embody.
It’s time to move away from perfection. The idea of perfect imprisons us, it confines us. It’s puts us in a box.
Good is truly good. It has the ability to make room for everything in our life, to live integrated and healthy.
Join me in this episode as we go back to the beginning of time and space, learn a little bit from two ancient languages, and are invited to reclaim our original state of being as declared by Being itself.
Media & Resources mentioned in this episode:
Music by Fantoms and Jessie Villa.