I love pop music. If I could shed my singer/songwriter skin and become a pop diva for a day, I’d do it. One of my favorite pop artists is Tori Kelly. If you don’t know her music, check out this youtube link: https://youtu.be/wsVNgB_DS_g
Her voice is ridiculous!
I love her song “Unbreakable Smile.” In the song she’s challenging “the system,” frustrated that her record label won’t respect her for being a good girl:
“Because to make it you think I gotta act a certain way,
Be a little bit insane, live a little, it’s okay
I guess we have different definitions of living, but you’ll twist my words anyway…
…But I’d rather make ’em yawn than be a pawn on your chessboard
So call me boring, call me cookie cutter
Call me what you want…”
It’s a great song; trust me.
Why is “good” considered boring? Why do we follow the appalling behavior of celebrities instead of fascinating ourselves with those who help their communities? Why are we intrigued by people who make trouble and barely notice the ones doing the right thing? Some of the rich and famous have built their entire brands on being bad and we eat it up. Crazy isn’t it?
I’ve been wondering: how could we make “good” more popular? For starters, let’s rethink our definition of good. I’ve always equated good with nice. When I’m good, I’m nice to everyone. All the time. Never stepping out of line. But isn’t there more to being good? Consider heroes. We call them “good” not because they are nice, but because they are brave and face danger, fighting for what is right. Remember Aslan in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia? Mr. Beaver said of the valiant lion, “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
Are you living your life being safe or being good? “Safe” people are nice people. Tim Keller, one of my favorite preachers, admits to being a “knee-jerk nice-maker.” Me, too! Nice-makers are always super agreeable and never shake things up. They ask few, if any, hard questions because they want to make you comfortable. They avoid conflict by setting aside their desires to fulfill yours and keep you happy. Bor-ring! And more than boring, being a nice-maker is unloving. To love is to tell the truth even when it’s uncomfortable or downright scary, and to give even when it calls for incredible sacrifice on our part. Oh no! Turns out being good requires much more of me than I thought. But there’s a beautiful, simple truth Keller points out: if we seek the good of others, God promises to fill us and bless us. (Gen. 12:2-3)
I recently read a post by a female lawyer who lived in Romania under a past dictator. She said, “The best way to avoid trouble was to remain silent, question nothing, and try to blend in.” We don’t live in a dictatorship, but have you noticed that we tend to act like it in our communities and our culture? And yet our world is crying out for us to stop being “nice-makers” and start making goodness look beautiful.
So to summarize, to be good is not to be nice, it is to care without limit, give freely, speak the truth with courage and kindness, and whatever else it takes to love. Shall we try it?
Let’s try an experiment this week. Each time we are tempted to make nice, let’s consider what’s good. Let’s let our goodness look like courage and acts of service and kindness.
Also, click HERE to read the post from Ann Voskamp’s blog on Virginia Prodan, the Romanian attorney I mentioned.