My sister picked me up at the airport on a trip home when I lived in New York City. I swung the sliding door to her minivan open and locked eyes with my two-year-old nephew. He took his thumb out of his mouth and said, “Good,” slowly with a smile. He was in a stage when good was one of his favorite words. He used good instead of yes.
“Do you want more ice cream?”
That “good” I got from him struck my heart and stuck with me. Henry assessed my presence as good. It was a simple moment, yet one that’s profundity stopped me in my tracks. It was like God whispering to me through him, reminding me, with the purity of a toddler, that God is well pleased with me.
There have been other moments, too. I was walking down a dirt path, very far from home, and caught two little girls watching me. They both approached the fence that separated us, one hiding behind the other. I approached the fence, too, smiled, and greeted them. The smaller of the two leaned her face right against the fence, poking her fingers through and whispered ever so quietly, “You are so beautiful.” Her earnestness was disarming. I laughed and said, “You are so beautiful,” before she scampered away.
In Seminary, I had a very old professor who came to class with a stack of books every day. He would pick a book off the stack, raise it up and quote it with the page number reference perfectly without opening the book mid-lecture without losing stride. He had dedicated his life to studying the Bible, to seeking God and truth. There was a perceived intimacy between God and him that we all aspired to. One day he held my corrected paper out to me and said, “This is very good.”
“Thank you,” I said, but when I tried to take it he pulled it away.
“No, listen, this is very good.”
And then a third time, he held it to his chest and said, “Really, Ellie, this is very good.”
It wasn’t until I smiled, tearing up a little, that he gently set the paper in front of me and walked away. He knew I didn’t really hear him or believe him until the third time.
I don’t always realize how hard I am on myself until these moments happen. But then the right person at the right moment says the right thing in a way I can hear, and it resonates inside of me despite all the negative self-talk. God pierces through the white noise. In our very creation story, God created light, and saw that the light was good. God created the land and the sea and saw that it was good. God created plants and watery creatures and birds and cattle and creeping things and wild animals and saw that it was good. Then God created male and female in God’s image and blessed them. “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.”
God is well pleased with God’s creation. God thinks we are very good. The light inside of us that is good can be muted and stifled at times, but it is there. Even when we don’t believe it, God sees it and others can see it, too. We can speak God’s truth to each other, reminding each other of our very goodness. Living from that truth can change everything.