What these questioners really want to know is, What do I see that they’re missing? How do I see the world and my role in it? How do I see God? What is the faith that drives me? What are the spiritual practices that uphold me? What do I see in the heart of humanity and in the sweep of history that confirms my conviction that goodness will triumph?
This book is my answer.
I have written with the help of my youngest daughter, Mpho. Like me, she is a priest in the Anglican Communion. We are both parents, both married, and we share some core beliefs but each of us has our own unique life experience that we bring to this book.
Our experience, our reading of Scripture, and the people who have been part of our lives – however briefly – have taught us some important truths that we will share with you in this book. First, we will see that are all designed for goodness, and when we recognize that truth it makes all the difference in the world. Second, we are perfectly loved with a love that requires nothing of us, so we can stop ‘being good’ and live into the goodness that is our essence. And third, God holds out an invitation to us – an invitation to turn away from the anxious striving that has turned stress into a status symbol. It is an invitation to wholeness that leads to flourishing for all of us.
We also know that God has given us the gift of freedom and that in order for freedom to be real, we must be free to choose right and equally free to choose wrong. Where is God when we suffer? Where is God when we fail? Why does God let us sin? And when we do suffer, fail, or sin, how do we find our way home to goodness? How can we rediscover our essence? We will explore these questions together. We will also describe some of the ways we have learned of hearing God’s voice offer us comfort, guidance, answers, and acceptance. When we are able to hear God’s voice and see it with God’s eyes, we will be able to see the world as it truly is.
We will explore the truths and address the questions using the stories that have shaped our outlook. Our world-view was forged in the fires of apartheid South Africa and in the course of marriage and parenting, and so we will share many stories form our homes and our history. You will also become familiar with some of our favourite Bible stories. Whether you read the Bible as sacred text or just as good literature, the stories it contains tell us deep and abiding truths about human nature. We return to them again and again in our teaching and preaching and in our private prayer and study.
We invite you to join us on a pilgrimage. Come and see some of the places we have seen. come and share some of the lessons we have learned. Come and meet some of the people we have already known. Walk with us on holy ground. Perhaps you will learn to see yourself through God’s eyes and come to know that your whole life is holy ground.
Let us turn into the stilness and listen to God speak with the voice of the heart:
You are my child,
With you I am well pleased.
Stand beside me and see yourself,
Borrow my eyes so you can see perfectly.
When you look with my eyes then you will see
That the wrong you have done and the good left undone,
The words you have said that should not have been spoken,
The words you should have spoken but left unsad,
The hurts you have caused,
The help you’ve not given
Are not the whole of the story of you.
You are not defined by what you did not achieve.
Your worth is not determined by success.
You were priceless before you drew your first breath,
Beautiful before dress or artifice,
Good at the core.
And now is the time for unveiling
The goodness that is hidden behind the fear of failing.
You shout down your impulse to kindness in case it is shamed,
You suck in your smile,
You smother your laughter,
You hold back the hand that would help.
You crush your indignation
When you see people wronged or in pain In case all you can do is not enough,
In case you cannot fix the fault,
In case you cannot soothe the searing,
In case you cannot make it right.
What does it matter if you do not make it right?
What does it matter if your efforts move no mountains?
It matters not at all.
It only matters that you push back the veil to let your goodness shine
It only matters that you live as I have made you.
It only matters that you are made for me,
Made like me,
Made for goodness.