Good vs. Perfect (Or “Dirty & Tired part 2”)

I recently heard a fantastic episode of Rob Bell’s podcast where he discussed the idea of Good vs. Perfect.

Good, he explained, was a concept that came from the Hebrews. In fact, the first chapter of the Torah was G-d explaining how everything He created was “good” … light was good, dark was good, earth was good, and water was good. Everything was GOOD. And the interesting thing is that BOTH light and dark, earth and water were good. So what does that imply? It implies that “Good” is a process – it’s about the seasons and constantly moving from growth to decay and growth again. It’s about always moving and shifting and sometimes life being amazing, and sometimes life being rough. Both failure and success are part of “good.” Life is dynamic. That’s normal. And that’s amazing.

Perfect, however, came from the Greeks. The Greeks brought with them the idea of the “ideal” – the ideal body and the Olympics; philosophy, debates, and the ideal mind. But what is the problem with perfect? The problem with perfect is that it’s static. It means that you’ve reached the highest possible peak and there’s nowhere else to climb.

But what’s life without growth and moving forward and climbing? … Boring.

Good and perfect, then, is not so much about the quality of your work but about your mindset. Perfect means you have to get things perfectly right on the first try, while good knows it’s a process and it’s ok to start messy and ugly, and in fact, you’re supposed to! Perfect means everything is neat and tidy and clean, and good is as clean and tidy but also as magical as the birth of a child (which we all know by the way is one of the things furthest from clean and tidy).

The Torah starts with the affirmation of the mess of life. The Torah starts with telling us that light, dark, earth, water, the moon, and the stars are all GOOD, not “PERFECT.” Life is supposed to have ugly starts, and rollercoaster ups and downs. And all of it is good. ALL of it is GOOD. One last time: ALL. Of. It. Is. GOOD.

Thousands of years ago, the Jews had a military victory over the Greeks during Chanukah. Yet today, most of us still seem to live our lives through the Greek “perfect” mindset, instead of the Jewish / Torah “good” mindset. We still go around trying to act and look perfect all the time. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Life is GOOD. And even the process of learning to think of life as good is good. You reading this is good! Getting tired and dirty is good. And whatever you decide to do after this will also be good.

With that, wishing you a GOOD week, month, year, and life ahead 🙂



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