“I’ve always been a good girl.” I couldn’t help overhearing the woman at the table next to me. I was sitting outside at a coffee shop. Sound carries, and though I had no intention of eavesdropping, the phrase stuck with me.
Her voice shook slightly and I could hear the angst.
I thought about all the times I’ve heard that phrase from people.
“I’ve always been a good girl. I’ve always been a good boy.” (Or woman. Or man.)”
“I’ve always done the right thing.”
“I’ve never gone out of line.’
I’ve heard the statement in hundreds of different ways, but the meaning is the same. “I’ve always been a good girl.”
I have noted that this statement precedes something difficult that is happening in the person’s life. What it is saying is “Why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
But what, really, is good? Who is good?
A number of years ago, I was talking to a friend. Her daughter had just begun dating a guy at the church we were attending. They were both young. She had been in college for a year and he was just graduating from high school. They were both picture perfect when it came to external character. So I asked my friend what she thought of the match. “He’s a good Christian boy!” was all she said. So I looked at her, and I started to smile. “So – what’s a “good” Christian boy?” I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to know. She burst out laughing and said “The minute I said that, I thought, Marilyn is going to ask me what that means!”
When we say those words “He’s a good Christian” what do we mean by them? Isn’t it the same as that phrase “I’ve always been a good girl?”
Years ago, someone came to Jesus to have a conversation. He began the conversation in this way: “Good teacher….” He went on to say more: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Jesus’ answer is curious: “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” He immediately tackles the “good” statement. As the conversation moves forward, Jesus talks to the man about the commandments. The man is thrilled. You see, all his life, he’s been a good boy. He’s done all those things — and more. He’s always been a good boy. He’s ‘that guy’ in the church youth group.
Jesus does not compliment him on his behavior. Instead, we are told he “looked at him and loved him.”
That’s where I want to stop today – because for all you good girls and boys out there, Jesus is looking at you and loving you. He knows the gap in your armor. He knows the stress you put yourself through to try to be good. He knows that ultimately, that will never, ever be enough.
“I’ve always been a good girl.” I don’t know what the woman was dealing with that day, but I know she was in distress. Being good will never shield us from life’s hard, hard battles. Good people have the same mortality rate as bad people – and it’s one hundred percent. Good people have bad days. Good people get in car accidents, get hurt, get cancer, get in fights, and get angry as they watch those that aren’t good go through life so well.
But with eyes of compassion, Jesus looks at the one who has always been good, the one who is exhausted from trying so hard, and he loves them.