“We all have a natural appetite to have our goodness known” wrote Thomas Aquinas about eight-hundred years ago. Aquinas was a seeker of virtue and a lover of wisdom. I have a slight crush on Mr. Thomas Aquinas, truth be told.
Surely there is a God-given desire for approval in every beating human heart. I’m fairly certain this is not breaking news to anyone who’s gone to middle school. Or out on a first date. Or who has lived a single day in this world. Every soul longs for their goodness to be seen. We know this without ever needing to be told.
Wanting our lives to be found ‘good and right and praiseworthy’ is a human condition rooted in our most secret and inner places. And because God created us this way, this longing is not inherently wrong.
If we’re honest, we all do want the divine inner light in us to be acknowledged and honored. We do want our goodness to inspire hope. We really do want to live wholeheartedly, doing significant and good things with great love.
We desire to have our goodness known.
And yet. While we truly want to spend ourselves for good, and live purposeful, brave, and sacrificial lives – we would also prefer that all our goodness not go completely unnoticed.
Are we as eager to pour ourselves out for the good of the world without the acknowledgment and approval of others? Are we as quick to ‘count the cost’ without the immediate reward of clicks, likes, and cheers from the sidelines? Are we willing to be magnanimous away from the crowds? Are we willing and able to pursue truth, beauty, and goodness without our goodness being known and praised by men?
We all have a natural appetite to have our goodness known. But whose approval and honor do we most especially want?
I want your approval. At the very least, I hope you read a Given Breath post when it shows up in your feed. Trust me, I know how many posts I have time to read, and so this act alone -sharing your time – is such generous approval in any writer’s book. But also, there is a part of my nature that wants too much of your approval (#vainglory). For example: I hope you are so encouraged by my thoughtful post that you immediately share it widely amongst all your family and friends.
And this natural appetite, left unchecked, goes down from there.
For example: I hope that you not only take the time to read and share, but also add a meaningful testimony about, say, how your day was going really bad, but thanks to my inspired words, now it’s going really awesome. Or something similar. Maybe add a dash of humor? My posts, as you all know, tend to be a little preachy and overly earnest.
See? Aquinas is right. I want my goodness to be known and approved of by you, and also by God – way more than I’d like to think I do.
We are children of God, and I certainly play my part most days: “Watch me! Look at me! Is this good? Do you love me?” I shriek like a hyper little kid running around the playground.
I want my Heavenly Father’s interest and attention. I want to feel his pleasure, and know his unconditional delight and approval in me; even though I know I already have it, and will always, always have it.
Our deepest human desire is to be known, and loved, and approved of by God.
We have a good and just Father who loves and accepts us.
We have a good and worthy Redeemer who will never forsake us.
We have access to the eternal goodness that is between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost forever.
May this always be the goodness we long to have known.
Peace to you and yours,