Good is greater than Grand. That’s what I’ve learned. That’s what I now stand for. There’s a lot of shiny things in this world — fame, fortune, a prolific social standing, a trophy lover. But if you’ve lived long enough, mine three decades and four, you’ll realize that none of those things would amount to the dearest, closest ones to your heart. There’s no need to Go Big. There’s just Good. Good is enough.
I have always shunned my complacency, thinking it was my inner defense to laziness — the lack of need to be visible, to aim for higher things, buy more expensive objects. But this weekend taught me that contentment wasn’t a bad trait. Contentment was a modest boat that keeps us sailing steady, albeit slowly, but securely forward. Yes, there are no risky dives, no rolling down the cliffs or shooting up the mountains, but I didn’t need it. I had everything I wanted. Right here. And all of them are good.
How I came to this state, I’m not exactly sure, but I do know I learned it from my dad. My dad who just celebrated another year in his 60s.
His birthday was on Valentine’s Day. Which fortunately frees me from the mortal requirements of Getting A Date because I Have A Date. A family one. One that we’ve planned, on Sunday beforehand, to go to the mall to gift the Man of the Hour a Special Thing which we saved money for. Mama ditched her seminar just for this. But things don’t happen the way we want. My brother had an interview on that same Friday, a blessing wrapped in Wrong Day to Pick A Schedule But Hey, Let Me Get the Job Please.
So, my dad pushed away the idea of a bigger, farther mall. He just wanted somewhere close by so we can wait for my brother to come home and he can join us watch Birds of Prey. Simple joys. My dad was never the Throw Me a Party guy, anyway. In the morning, when I posted a presentation of him featuring a Very Special Background Music, he was elated. Even though he had the audio unchecked. Because it was his voice, singing, You’ve Got a Friend.
You could say my dad is pretty basic, and he’d thank you for it.
The Close-by Mall didn’t have everything what we wanted, including the Special Thing which we intended to buy for him. We walked around, from one shop to another, and to be honest, there was a gaping hole inside of me since I wasn’t able to give anything to him. Just this Thursday, he managed to slip in roses for my mom and me, and I couldn’t believe he’s not getting anything. On his birthday.
A good hour later, we’re just a middle-class family of four with two working kids and two retired adults sitting inside the pizza parlor, chomping down the bacon-slathered slices after a walk around the halls. There was no gift for my dad – but it didn’t matter to him. I think my dad has learned the Guru-level magic of contentment that not having something new was easy to brush off. He wasn’t about new, anyway. He was about use.
It wasn’t until the night-time devotion that things started striking down. In his portion, dad put on his pastor’s cap and started spewing up about God’s magnanimous, extravagant love like there were fireworks in his eyes. Believe me, when joy explodes in someone’s heart, they brim. Like you could see them shining. And my dad was shining that night when he was talking about God, the Father and Giver of Good things, things we don’t ask for yet given to us, things we take for granted but make the best of us. He talked all about the beautiful things I wasn’t able to commit to memory (I did record a good handful last bit). But all I could remember how heartwarming those words are. Not words, promises. It felt like being doused by shining stars or walking inside a curtain of warm, fuzzy love.
To be honest, it wasn’t dad’s words that blossomed into a lesson. It was him. His way of living. His way of forgiving. He was humble, prudent, and very modest. He’s an average man with an average wants (Choc-nut to keep him happy, and that’s it), easy to forgive. But during the family devotion, I could see in his eyes that he was peeling off from something carnal. Something earthly. It was when I asked him, “What was this year’s biggest challenge to you?” and he answered, “Myself.”
You know, I could think of Names that would have been a challenge to him, but this surprised me. He never looked at anyone else. Never pointed the blame. “I discovered I needed to be more patient,” he said, a man of exemplary patience, to think he has lived through Things. And he kept on, saying that as a Child of God, we should be honing ourselves for sanctification. Less of us, more of God. If we seethe in anger and annoyance when other people pisses us off, it’s still Ourselves.
That’s when I knew my dad has taken a step further. A ladder up.
On Saturday, I wrote this in my journal:
God will not give me
the most expensive things
like a penthouse or a yacht
or unlimited travels around the world
instead, what He promises
are the good things
a cozy home, nice people
a purposeful life of serving others
there is no glitz and glamor
to His gifts
only the promise of His presence
that will walk with me
…and this made a mark. God doesn’t give me grand things – the ones that are shiny and hollow inside, like inflated balloons covered in gold. Instead, He gave me good things: a job that allows me to be nearest to the ones I love, the ability to pay for my needs without asking for ANYONE, friends that inspire and support me, gadgets that live on past their expiry date (my old iPod is still working even after 8 years), a house that’s still standing even after the quakes and storms, access to all my needs, et al. None of them made me famous or rich, but these are all I wanted. All I needed.
Do I have to want for more?
This morning, a Monday, my dad, a former insurance employee now a pastor, a person who doesn’t really need to work because he’s covered for all his needs because of his pension, sat at the dinner table with an old sando shirt that made him look like a beggar. I kidded him. And he told me, “Ah, that’s fine. Human’s don’t need something polished or shiny. They just have to be.” And that seals it.
Good is greater than Grand.