Today’s video is part of an ad campaign run by Nike. The general idea is clear: many times we complain and find ways to excuse ourselves without having any really good reason. To help remedy this fact, Matt Scott, nominated the best male athlete in the Paralympics in 2004 and 2008, takes a shot at stirring us out of our self-indulged laziness using both words and example.
I think the video could be very useful helping us to reflect upon our interior rupture. What do I mean by that? Let me explain. Many times we find ourselves divided. We are constantly replanting objectives and goals that in the end counteract each other. We say one thing and do another so much so that, at times, the difference between what we want and what we end up doing or seeming to reach monstrous proportions. Saint Paul described it perfectly in his Epistle to the Romans 7:19. As a matter of fact, this is exactly what we are witnessing in Matt’s taunting imitation of some common excuses: we want to do something… but there’s always a “but”: “I ate too much;” “I’ve got a headache;” I’m allergic to stuff; “I’ll do it tomorrow.” In the end, the list could go on and on. Still, from what we heard, I think we can all identity with something – no excuses.
Those that say they want to, but in the end do nothing. “I would really like to,” they say, but then they follow up with an “it’s really complicated.” They want it, but not really. It’s too big of a commitment and so they never go beyond talking about it: false promises, empty of intention. It’s easy to note them, they are the ones that float so passively downstream, sometimes complaining here and there, sometimes silent, other times carrying a false look of happiness.
Those that want it, but aren’t willing to work for it. When things are just getting started, they’re prompt and protagonistic, full of ideas and good intentions. You can perceive an authenticity in their desire. You can see it in their words and in their actions, but… they don’t take the necessary steps. You hear them talk a lot; they are great project starters and do get some things done, but little. It’s something but certainly not enough. Their ideas are often ambitious, but they haven’t the magnanimity to undertake the demands that these ideas require. Shortcuts are their refuge, large explanations for little actions… and we all know where this is leading. They always come up short, full of good intentions whose actions never surpass mediocrity.
Those who are determined to act, but are too presumptuous and overconfident. They are enthusiastic, serious decision makers that respond and are resolved in their course. They are even willing to suffer sacrifices if the situation calls for it, but… they only accept the sacrifices that agree with their parameters of comfort. As long as things go according to plan, and the level of sacrifice concurs with the budgeted amount of resistance, they’re on board. But, when the waves begin to bellow and boat to pitch, being deprived of the precious sensation of control, they are the first in the water, swimming for shore. The fear and irritation trigger phrases like “I know what I need to do, but there’s no reason it should be so difficult;” “Surely there’s another way that’s easier;” “In the end, I saw that it just wasn’t for me.” With this, they retreat back to their initial state of comfort, where the remote control is within their grasp and such “unnecessary sacrifices” can be avoided.
These kinds of situations make me think of Bilbo in the Hobbit. More than content within the walls of his cozy cottage, it isn’t easy for him to step outside and risk an adventure. After he overcomes the initial hesitance, time and again he must pass through the interior battles, continually experiencing that tension of wanting to retreat, to return to the tranquility of times past. The encouragement of his friend was fundamental for him to keep moving forward – a lesson that reminds us we can’t do it on our own.
Finally, taking advantage of the last comment, I’ll mention the last attitude, this time a positive one
Those who want it, who take the necessary steps, and reach their goal – or live fighting for it without surrender. With regards to this attitude, we have plenty of examples. Matt, who in spite of so many obstacles and limitations he had to overcome, persisted and pressed on. In the Bible we discover hundreds of stories of weakness, fragility, and fear, overcome by faith, courage, and sacrifice. When we truly put ourselves in the hands of the Lord, finding support in those around us, one truly can become the protagonist of a spectacular adventure.
Still, all this falls short and leads us to our principal item, the true competition of our lives, the authentic challenge, the fascinating adventure: the adventure of a Christian life, one lived in Christ, for Christ, reaching out for holiness in every moment of every day. Cooperating with His grace, being simple of heart – passing through moments of anxiety and fear – we are invited and able to rest our eyes upon a horizon of love that has no limit, no boundaries. With our gaze locked onto our Lord and King, hung on the Cross for love of us, we embark each day on the adventure of Christianity lived without excuses or whining, a life truly lived to the full. There is no excuse for failure, Christ has made everything possible. There is no obstacle too big, too deep, or too high for his love and mercy to overcome. Will you respond?
A Few Questions for a Dialogue
Which of the attitudes do you see in your own life?Where is it most manifest? What are your common phrases? What areas of your life have you yet to give over to Christ? What concrete steps do you need to take in order to draw closer to your goal? In what ways can you live your life according to the 4th attitude?