Goodness is one of those words which we know intimately, but which is hard to define. Go ahead and try – define “goodness” without using the word “good”
I’ll give it a try: goodness is the state of consistently doing what’s right and what’s loving. I think those latter two parts of the equation are necessary – you can’t do good if you’re doing something wrong; likewise, being good involves some action that helps, rather than hinders.
Sometimes, the “doing right” part of goodness goes along with the “loving” part in difficult circumstances. One displays goodness when loving another person even if that person reciprocates in an unlike manner, because it is the right thing to do. And because of these connections, the word is inextricably connected to relationship, flowing from one person to another.
When I tried to think of an anime character that does right, showing love consistently even in the face of hatred, one figure popped right into my head – the lovely, weird, and unique, Sawako Kuronuma.
Although not everyone likes her, I immediately took to Sawako while marathoning Kimi ni Todoke. Strange and hilarious, she kept me interested through the entire series. But more than that, her loving personality was also easy to like.
Early in the show, Ayane and Chizuru were the victims of gossip, first spread apparently from Sawako’s lips. But already knowing her character, they never had more than slight doubt at their new friend’s innocence. And even though the rumors almost destroyed Sawako’s friendships and the beginnings of her acceptance among the student body, she responds to the real perpetrator, Kurumi, with love. Sawako’s goodness is overwhelming.
Although it’s easy to chalk up Sawako’s personality to naivete, I think her optimism and quick-to-forgive actions are more the result of her goodness than her innocence. We as the audience are privy to her thoughts, which time and time again focus on others first rather then herself. Being good means truly loving others, and without putting them ahead of ourselves, we can’t really be fully loving.
For some of us (I’m particularly thinking of myself), we show this loving goodness with a “but” statement at the end:
“I forgive you, but…you better not do this again.”
“I’ll sacrifice for you, but…you should show appreciation.”
“I’ll bite my tongue, but…in my heart, I really hate you.”
True goodness is a response of love, and it’s difficult to consistently live a lifestyle of goodness without knowing Christ and understanding the gospel message. In a way, we can see this gospel message through Sawako. She starts to really respond in goodness after receiving kindness from Kazehaya. Before then, she felt ashamed at her own loneliness and inability to grow friendships with others. But the unconditional acceptance from the boy encouraged her to step out and love others.
In our own shame – whether it’s because of sin, like pornography or fits of anger, or because of sin inflicted on us, like abuse – we may feel unable or unwilling to be good to others. But in Christ there is acceptance – He loves us just the way we are, broken and all. And in understanding His love, we are set free from shame and now able to show goodness to others from pure motivations, without the “but” strings attached.
It all starts with relationship and it all ends that way, too – from you and God to you and others.
In other words…from Him to me…
and From Me to You.
Other Posts in the Fruits of the Spirit Series: