As Good As It Gets

Carol Connelly is a waitress. She works long hours because her son, Spencer is nine years old and has asthma. He frequently has temperatures above 100 and she has to take him to the hospital several times a week. Carol, her mom and Spencer all live in a small New York apartment where Carol sleeps on the couch and Spencer’s health problems keep him confined to the house. Carol has no life outside work and her family, because she worries about Spencer all the time. Any attempt she makes to have a relationship is interfered by her constant worry about her son. It’s a never-ending process of work, and rushing Spencer to the hospital where the same inexperienced doctors tell her there’s nothing they can do. In the spare time she has to breathe she worries. She worries that things will never get better for her. In her pain and despair she wonders, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

***

Simon Bishop is a Painter. He spends his days coloring canvases and loving on his dog, Verdel. His dog is his life and he worries more about it than anything else. His life hits rock bottom when he is assaulted in his own house and is hospitalized. He does not have enough money to pay his medical bills. His apartment is sublet to other tenants and he loses all desire to be an artist. As he faces his seemingly hopeless future he doesn=t care about anything but his dog. Unfortunately, Verdel likes Simon’s neighbor, who happens to be his worst enemy, more than him. It seems like things couldn’t get any worse. As he hobbles around the room, making his way through dry paint brushes and unpainted canvases, he wishes his dog would just come sit in his lap. And when he stops thinking about how his dog doesn’t like anymore he wonders to himself, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

***

Melvin Udall is a successful Romantic novelist. He is also obsessive compulsive. He spends his time ordering his day precisely around routine and exactness. He has no meaningful relationships, except for the one with his computer and the lives he makes up in his books. The only love he knows is the one he tries to ignorantly publish. His rudeness pushes people away. He can’t seem to open his mouth without saying something obnoxious. His fear of germs and his attention to habits cause him to be a social misfit. He wants change so bad he worries about it constantly. He can’t seem to get his life together the way he wants it. In a waiting room at his psychiatrist he thinks out loud asking himself and the other patients, “What if this is as good as it gets?”

***

Carol, Simon and Melvin all find themselves in a similar situation. They all are at a stage in their lives when nothing seems to go right. They don’t feel like their situation will ever improve so they have nothing to look forward to. Wondering if this is as good as it gets gives them hope that the answer is no. But when they are done wondering, they have to settle for the fact that for now, it isn’t going to get any better. They are stuck. Their lives aren’t going anywhere and it is driving them crazy. All they want is a moments peace where they can forget about their worries. If everything could just go away, they would be alright. If Carol’s son could only get better, or at least if she had enough money to see a good doctor. If Simon could only get a little help getting around. If only his pet dog would respond to him. If only he weren’t in so much pain. If Melvin could only get over his obsessive compulsive disorder and not be so self-centered his life would be better. If only…..

***

If only our “if onlies” were reality, we would have a lot less things to worry about. We wouldn’t have children going to bed hungry at night. We wouldn’t see children having children. We wouldn’t have kids killing kids. If only this wasn’t as good as it gets, we would have something to look forward to.

Why do we look at our lives wondering why things aren’t better right now? Is there some sort of ego trip we are on that gives us a right to have everything go our way? Is each person entitled to live without pain and suffering? Is this really an inalienable right? As I look around, I see many people who have a lion’s share of the pain and suffering while I have very little in comparison. I don’t have a son who struggles to breathe. I don’t have an empty refrigerator and an empty wallet to go with it. I don’t have friends or relatives who work in buildings that terrorists fly airplanes into either. While I sit here wondering, “What if this is as good as it gets?,” my neighbor could be sitting there watching me, wondering, “Why doesn’t he know how good he has it?” If we are all drawn to desire something better than what we have, isn’t there something we can all hope for together that we can share?

***

It is a valid question for us to ask. There’s no doubt that when I sit at the feet of Jesus on a hill side where he teaches that many are wondering the same thing. Roman occupation of their holy city has them wondering, “What if this is as good as it gets? What if the Messiah never comes!” Jesus, sensing their worry responds. He says, “Are you poor in spirit? It gets better! Your’s is the kingdom of heaven! Are you mourning? Do not worry! You will be comforted! Do you have little possessions? You’re in for a treat! You will inherit the earth! Are you never satisfied with your relationship with our father? Your hunger will be satisfied! Do you forgive others who have wronged you? You will also be forgiven! Have you kept yourself pure? It will pay off! You will see God. Do you find yourself in the midst of quarrels? You will be considered my son. Are you suffering because of the good choices you have make? It will get better, you will be in heaven soon. You are wondering now if this is as good as it gets, but you have no idea how good it will be. You may not know it now, but you have reason to rejoice and be glad. You have a hope of heaven just like everyone else who has wondered if this is as good as it gets.

There’s a song by Mercy Me that captures what we have to look forward to, called “In You”



I put my hope in you.

I lay my life in the palm of your hand.

For I’m constantly drawn to you O Lord

In ways I cannot comprehend.

It’s the Creator calling the created.

The Maker beckoning the made.

The bride finding what she’s always waited for

When we find ourselves that day.

In you, where the hungry feast at the table.

The blind frozen by colors in view.

The lame will dance, they’ll dance for they are able.

And the weary find rest

O, the weary find rest in you.

Its no secret that we don’t belong here.

Though set apart by the grace of you.

We look for the day when we go to a place

Where the old become brand new.

In you where the hungry feast at the table

The blind frozen by colors in view

The lame will dance, they’ll dance for they are able.

And the weary find rest

O, the weary find rest in you.

Jesus saw the crowds and sat down among them. Do you think that Jesus knew by looking at the crowds, just how downtrodden they were? The crowds came to Jesus because they knew when they were around him, things got better. They knew that when Jesus was in the neighborhood all those who were afflicted with diseases and pains, the demoniacs, epilectics, paralytics and all the sick got a sample of what life tastes like when it is as good as it gets. Jesus saw this and so he tells them about the beatitudes. He sees the pain in their eyes, he sees the hope in their eyes.

When we have this kind of relationship with Jesus where he can see the pain and the hope, the weary will find rest. Jesus has the power to give rest. He has the power to truly show us how good it can get. Carol, Simon and Melvin all ask, If Only…? We also ask, if only…if only we could be where life is as good as it gets. We know where that is, and if the beatitudes tell us one thing, its that life as good as it gets is worth waiting for, its worth living for and its worth dying for. If Jesus is trying to tell us anything, its that he was willing to die so that we can have life as good as it gets.

Advertisements

About joshkellar

I'm married to an incredible woman of God and have two daughters that love to laugh and delight in the Lord. My goal in life is to bring others into closer relationship with God by engaging them in His story as we journey together in a faith-filled community. The basis for every decision I make in life comes back to my calling to share the love of God with those around me. My hope is that at every opportunity I will encourage others into a greater lifelong journey of discipleship.

Posted on August 21, 2004, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: