On Being Perfect

Are we there yet?
Are we there yet?

This past weekend, while I was all sniffly and doped up on various medications (don’t judge!), we watched a couple of movies.

First of all, this disclaimer:  I do not understand football.  I have tried, under my husband’s patient and thorough tutelage, to get it.  I still like football movies, though.  Does that make me a bad person?  I love “Remember the Titans” and “Rudy”, mainly because of their themes of teamwork and perseverance.  They remind me of my days of volleyball and a little of softball and track.  But “Friday Night Lights” was different.  Spoiler alert!  They don’t win the 1988 Texas state football championship!  The Panthers lost.  I almost cried.  I kept thinking, Somebody got paid off, right?  Please!  Do-over!

But the speech, the speech!  Billy Bob Thornton, who strikes me as the creepiest guy in real life ever, is amazing as a down-to-earth, beleaguered football coach in the small oil town of Odessa, Texas.  I believe this is based on a true story; you can read it all here.

This speech got me.

And I realized:  I haven’t been doing all I could do.  I’ve been falling down in several areas of my life.  I have always interpreted “perfection” as never making a mistake. If I could only be perfect, I’d be happy.  I chased that carrot for years.  The Bible defines perfect as mature.  The verse James 1:4 talks about our faith becoming perfect through endurance.  We will lack nothing once we’re perfect, i.e., mature.  That’s not the definition, I believe, Coach Gaines is thinking about here.  It’s putting your best forward so you can look yourself in the eye without shame when it’s all said and done.  This means you’re all in. It is, it seems, another term for:  excellence.

And then, in “Hope Springs“, the same theme came up again.  I’m not saying it was a particularly good movie. It was painful to watch Meryl Streep’s character struggle to bring life back to the union.  In fact, it was very much not a comedy.  But the truth of the movie – have I done all I can to help this marriage? – hit me between the eyes again.  Steve Carell, uncharacteristically playing a marriage counselor in a very serious role, challenges the husband (Tommy Lee Jones) with this thought.  Don’t get me wrong; Jonathon and I have a good marriage.  Yet, I think I have been coasting on the past.  We got together a long time ago, when we were still kids.  We’ve changed and grown and laughed and cried (me) and learned together.  We’re adults now, with kids of our own.  We have a mortgage.  We can’t just take off in my 1974 pumpkin orange VW bug and drive to Santa Cruz. Though right now, a little sunshine and warmth would be most welcome…

I think it’s easy to get lost in the “good enough”.  How can I bless those I love more?  What service can I give to make their lives better?  How can I let them know I’m thinking about them?  What do they hold dear to their hearts that I can provide? Maybe pushing towards excellence also gets us further towards maturity.  I suspect I’ve only scratched the surface on this.


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