Wednesday in Easter Week, April 11, 2012
by Marjorie George
News flash: “good enough” is the new “perfect.” This generation grew up being told we could do everything, and we took that to mean we should do everything, and we should do it perfectly. Whatever we do, we can do better. We just need to try a little harder, work a little longer, lose a little more sleep.
Now there is a move afoot that says we don’t have to be perfect. Good enough is OK. It’s OK if the house is a little dusty; it’s OK if the lawn needs to be mowed; it’s OK if the kid makes a 95 instead of a 100 on her spelling test. If the family is reasonably happy and healthy, if we are doing pretty well – good enough. (See the book Good Enough is the New Perfect by Temple and Gillespie, Harlequin 2011.)
Some of us meet this news with great sighs of relief; and some of us are horrified. What? It’s OK to be less than perfect? But what will I do, who will I be if I am not busy being perfect?
Sadly, some of us enjoy the struggle of getting through life. If it’s easy, it’s not worth doing. If it can be made better, we are duty-bound to make it better. As evidence of how right we are, we give you Robert Browning: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp.” Our exhaustion is proof of how hard we work (corollary: and you should appreciate me more).
Thomas struggled. He was not taking anyone’s word that Christ had risen and had stood among them. He had to see it for himself, he had to do the hard work of investigation. The others might take the easy way out – just accept that a miracle had occurred. Not Thomas; he needed to struggle a little bit more. The tension of the past week — the disappointment of his team losing, the heart-rending sorrow of the crucifixion, then the tenuous possibility that Christ might yet have overcome – Thomas needed to grapple with this just a little bit longer.
And Christ obliged. “Come here, Thomas. Give me your fingers. Touch my side. Give up the struggle.” As Christ gazed upon this silly, wonderful, imperfect disciple – for surely Christ loved him no less than he loved the others – Christ pronounced what is true. “You believe because you have seen it for yourself. Blessed are those who take it on faith.” (John 20:26-29)
But perhaps Christ is not so much chastising Thomas as he is calling us all to give up the struggle, and commenting on how it is when we don’t. Christ is not proscribing – telling us what isn’t allowed; he is prescribing – showing us what will happen if we continue to live a certain way.
We can live the life eternal that begins here and now through our own hard-fought methods. We can struggle our entire lives and reach the Kingdom triumphant but exhausted. But those who lay down their own egos, who say, “I don’t have to understand this to accept it,” ah, those are blessed.
They have recognized that we come to God not through our perfection but through our imperfection. Our stumbling, inadequate, limited understanding of our relationship with Christ is good enough. We need not wait until we have it figured out perfectly to reach out and touch Him.
Marjorie George is editor of Reflections magazine and ReflectionsOnline. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.