Saturday, April 23, 2005

i want life unto life, but at least let me be a fragrance

warning: spoiler
i do reveal the end of the movie Friday Night Lights in this post.

I recently watched Friday Night Lights.
This Peter Berg movie, based on a true story chronicled by HG Bissinger in the book of the same name, details the struggle of the Odessa, TX High School Team, the Permian Panthers, to win the 1988 Texas State High School Championship.
At first, I found the movie oppressive. The town, as it's presented in the movie, has a monomaniacal focus on winning football games. One character, Charles Billingsley, brilliantly played by country music star Tim McGraw, who is the father of one of the seniors on the team, sees his own time winning the State Championship as the only valuable time of his life.

It becomes clear to Coach Gaines, played by Billy Bob Thornton, that his future with Odessa is strictly contingent on his winning games and seasons. When Dallas Carter is trouncing the Panthers in the State Championship Game, in his half-time speech, the sheer inordinate pressure the town put on him to win seems to propel him to reach higher in his aspirations than he had all season:

Well it's real simple: You got two more quarters and that's it.

Now most of you have been playin' this game for ten years. And you got two more quarters and after that most of you will never play this game again as long as you live. Now, ya'll have known me for awhile, and for a long time now you've been hearin' me talk about being perfect.

Well I want you to understand somethin'. To me, being perfect is not about that scoreboard out there. It's not about winning. It's about you, and your relationship to yourself and your family and your friends.

Being perfect is about being able to look your friends in the eye and know that you didn't let them down, because you told them the truth. And that truth is that you did everything that you could. There wasn't one more thing that you could've done.

Can you live in that moment, as best you can, with clear eyes and love in your heart? With joy in your heart?

If you can do that gentlemen, then you're perfect.

I want you to take a moment. And I want you to look each other in the eyes. I want you to put each other in your hearts forever, because forever's about to happen here in just a few minutes.


Boys my heart is full. My heart's full.

When Gaines says, "
Can you live in that moment, as best you can, with clear eyes and love in your heart? With joy in your heart?" I was deeply moved. Many emergesque readers know about my FoxHole, which continues today. Gaines' words moved me because he conveyed the important truth that the most critical accomplishment wasn't winning, but was playing with full integrity.

I immediately felt resonance with my own situation where for some time now I've realized that while there is an outcome to our struggle we earnestly desire, what is important is that every moment my family and I live abiding in faith in Jesus, luxuriating in His overwhelming love for us, and love one another and those around us - and that we do that while relying on His strength inside of us. It's possible my family won't win the game; but it's critical that we play with our hearts full of confidence, love and joy in our Lord.

1 comment:

J said...

Stephen -
Great thoughts. That moment in the movie was pretty significant for me too.
As to the oppressive nature of football in Texas, I've been there - it's really that bad. I know a man who filled a coach's yard with for sale signs, just like in the movie. Amazing.
Here's to full hearts.