Don’t be good

Credit: Asim Bharwani,

Dear Maria,

As we come to the eighth anniversary of your baptism, I’ve asked myself what I want for you as your godfather. And I’ve decided that I don’t want you to be good.

I don’t want you to be good because good is a loaded word. For kids, it usually means obedient. Or compliant, or dutiful. Or just plain old does-as-she’s-told. And maybe a lot of parents bring their kids up to be like that because they had to be like that – so for them that’s just the way it is.

When I think about it, there are a lot of people I look up to who haven’t always been “good,” or respectful, or acquiescent citizens, or (for that matter) much fun to be around – people like Gandhi, or Martin Luther King Jr., or Rosa Parks, or Nellie McClung. Or John the Baptist. Or that guy, Jesus.

What links these people is that they acted out of a deep place of love, justice and integrity. Sometimes, to be faithful to ourselves and our beliefs, we have to be something other than simply “good.” We have to be difficult, we have to be courageous, we have to resist. I guess faithfulness doesn’t always mean goodness.

So this year, on the anniversary of your baptism, I pray that you will be faithful. That takes guts. We need to know ourselves and be willing to take risks. We need to have heart.

Be encouraged, Maria – because after all the word encourage means “take heart.” We do not need good girls, good people or good citizens. We need faithfulness. It’s always in short supply.

With love from your godfather, October 2009.

Ted Harrison is a pastor from North Bay, Ontario.

Issue 30

This article first appeared in Geez magazine Issue 30, Summer 2013, The Redoing Schooling Issue.

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Issue 30, Summer 2013

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