At church a while back the Sunday School lesson was called How Great the Goodness of God. I think it covered one of the first ways God is so great, but it got me thinking about others:
1. God has perfect love
A concept that is pretty hard to understand. Feeling true love from my parents (I seriously lucked out in that department), I get it on some level. Finding the love of my life helped me understand a little bit more. Having a baby seriously leveled me up in understanding unconditional love. But when I think about God, love is overwhelmingly the characteristic I think of.
My grandpa used to tell this story that feels almost too special to share on the internet (but I'll share what I can). He was sick with cancer, so sick doctors asked him if he wanted to die at home or at the hospital. The family had a big fast for him, with lots of prayers and a special blessing (I was 2 at the time, not super helpful, I'm sure). And he was healed. Like 100% of his cancer was gone in a matter of days, doctors were scratching their heads healed. But healing isn't the memorable part, though he did live another 25 years. He recounts this experience he had praying so sincerely (with the gravity someone being sent home to die can only muster) and feeling an intense and all-consuming love. In the last years of my grandpa's life he told a lot of the same stories on repeat so I heard the experience regularly and even in his recounting of it, I could feel the reality my grandpa was feeling even in recounting the experience and felt an extension of that love every time I heard the story. I've heard other similar brushes with death (or life, as it were) or touches with heaven that recount similar explosions of love.
2. God has perfect understanding
Meaning we don't have to explain ourselves so much. Nor do we need to judge or make excuses for anyone else. God knows are hearts, He knows our personal experiences, our losses and fears, our greatest joys. He knows when we've acted out of weakness and when we're doing our best, and when we know better and are justifying things to ourselves.
The great lesson from all this understanding is not that God is planning a big fat 'Gotcha!' when it comes to judgment, or that there is any chance of God sneering at us, rubbing our faults in our noses, but rather that all this understanding adds up to complete and total mercy. We've got a listening ear when we are going through hard things that no one gets, and a generous and loving perspective when we just really kind of suck at life.
Research shows that what drives shame and furthermore what drives the downward spiral of sadness and poor decision-making is a lack of connection with others. We're hard-wired to feel connected and when we feel alone and misunderstood, we go haywire and bad feels worse. God's perfect understanding is an antidote to this lack of connection. It is our tether to our self-worth and inherent value.
3. God is perfectly beautiful
He has created beauty, including imperfections. I understand why people don't get into religion. I get why people don't believe in my religion, but I look at the world around me and the experience of human life and it is impossible for me to not believe in a higher power. It's not the science of how humans work that makes me believe, it's poetry and sunrises and best friends and intimacy and music and intuition and all these things that make us human. There is a lot of ugliness and hate in the world (feels like especially so lately), but in thinking about that ugliness, I've been drawn toward all these sparks of beauty. In them I feel God.