I love the show Survivor. I watched in the early days (oh Colby, why did you take Tina to the finals with you?), then I drifted away. I’ve been back for the last four or five seasons, and I have to admit that I can’t get enough of it. I even watch the “Ponderosa” clips that are only available online. Sad but true.
Last night’s episode provided an eye-opening demonstration of a spiritual principle that I sometimes get confused in my own mind. For those of you who have it DVR’d, I’ll keep this spoiler-free.
At the end of a challenge, one of the members of the losing tribe got really upset and started muttering to God. Host Jeff Probst (thank you, God, for making such a perfect specimen of humanity for us to look at each week…) began a dialogue with him that went something like this:
Player: “I’m a guy who was formed by God’s hands – a perfect creature. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s the way I’m supposed to live my life – in excellence. And everything I’m supposed to do is supposed to be excellent.”
Probst: “And that means never failing?”
Player: “Right! Absolutely!”
He’s put the issue of “excellence” in such black and white terms that I can’t avoid seeing my own reflection.
Far too often, I confuse excellence and perfection.
Perfection means never failing. It means doing everything exactly right, always hitting every mark, and never disappointing anyone (including myself and God) with my actions.
Excellence means doing the very best that I am capable of in each moment. It means focusing on the doing and letting the outcome take care of itself. It means being willing to forgive myself, and knowing that God (or the Universe, or whatever) would forgive me too, if it came to that, because God only ever wanted excellence from me anyway.
I’m grateful for the reminder.
This evening I encountered an example of someone who embodies the very concept of excellence for me: Timothy Kurek.
He grew up in a fundamentalist home, learning that homosexuality was a great sin. “The loving thing to do is to tell my friend who is gay, ‘Hey, listen, you are an abomination and you need to repent to go to heaven.’ I absolutely believed in that lock, stock and barrel.”
But after a radical epiphany, he chose to live for a year as a gay man – walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, as it were. He’s now telling his story in a new book, The Cross In The Closet.
I am struck by this man. After watching his 4 minute video, I believe that he is an example of excellence – he did the best that he knew how, changing course when he knew better. I’m willing to bet that he made some whoppers of mistakes along the journey. And now he’s talking about it with great empathy and humor, apparently having forgiven himself for all those mistakes that led him to who and where he is today.
So tonight’s post is dedicated to Timothy Kurek. I am SO excited to read his book.
You can watch the video here, or directly on the ABCNews site at:http://abcnews.go.com/Health/cross-closet-straight-christian-lives-year-gay-man/story?id=17443219
Today’s miracle: The reminder that being excellent actually means making mistakes.