Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell illustrate the tension of this week’s point better than anyone else I can think of. When American Idol debuted, we all tuned in not only for the phenomenal talent and those people-who-thought-they-could-sing, but also for the ridiculous drama often posed by these polar opposites.
I don’t know how much was show or how much is simply ingrained in their personalities, but my observation was that what flowed out of their mouths came forth quite naturally. Each one revealed an underlying assumption, a starting place from which every critique was offered. Paula: “there is something very valuable about you.” Simon: “You suck, unless of course you can prove otherwise.”
During this week on goodness, we reminded the boys of how often we begin the day asking them “are you gonna have a good day or a bad day? Because the choice is yours.” One quick & simple way to illustrate this with kids (and well, adults too) is to put a black dot on an 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and to ask what they see. People will almost always say “a black dot.” Rarely does someone say “a whole bunch of white.”
Our fallenness is unfortunately a part of our wiring. Most of us have a tendency to gravitate towards what’s wrong. (Watched The News lately?) When we do this, we just end up swirling down a vortex of negativity. But when we go against the grain, when we choose to savor goodness, then we continue to see and experience more goodness around us. There are family moments when our boy’s “Mimi” (A.K.A. Katie Cartwright), as she is surrounded by her grandkids, exclaims “This is the life!” What a great way to savor all the white space around you rather than to focus on the dot!
By the way, there’s always a dot. If there are people in your life who seem to be uber-joyous and you’re tempted to think they have no bad-ness pressing in on them, think again. Do yourself a favor. Become their friend and learn how they have chosen to enjoy a life of goodness.
Deuteronomy 30:15 presents the covenant choice for the people of God:
“See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction.”
God calls us to see & to savor the good (tovah) that He offers us. Our happiness & benefit is ultimately wrapped up in Him. Life without Him leads toward deterioration & death.
The amazing thing is God gives us a choice in the matter. In contrast to American Idol, God’s not hoping to eliminate anyone. He’s got a much more compassionate & gracious starting point. Take that Simon.