“Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.”
-quote from the 1984 film Starman starring Jeff Bridges
Ok, so it is a corny movie, but one filled with great quotes. After nearly crashing into an18-wheeler hauling hay and a heated discourse about correct observance of the laws of a traffic light, ‘Starman’ says the line we all dread hearing from our teenagers when they are learning to drive: “I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.”
When asked by a scientist about his observations of earth, Jeff Bridges’ character states, “You are at your very best when things are worst.”
When are we at our worst? We hear stories on the news about how communities come together to care for one another during natural disasters. Stories abound of people needing money for cancer treatments or surgeries and friends, neighbors, co-workers, and people who don’t even know the infirmed donate the necessary funds. Countless movies have been made about people in dire circumstances who worked hard and eventually rose above their circumstances. We as a people really are at our very best when things are at their worst.
But when we as individuals are at our very worst, does it bring out the best in us?
How does the person respond when their spouse asks for a divorce? How does the adult daughter behave when her mother passes away? How do we act when we have a child with a debilitating illness? Do difficult circumstances bring out the best in us? Usually, the opposite is true.
Although it doesn’t make things better or excuse our poor behavior, we are all guilty of a less than stellar response to a difficult situation. So, since we’re all in the club (t-shirts are on backorder), what do we do now?
Recently I came across an interesting piece of information about this. Someone reminded me that when we find ourselves in these difficult situations, it’s often not in isolation. Handling one major problem, while stressful, is usually not overwhelming. It’s when these situations arise one after another and build up that we don’t respond well. When it’s not just that you’re going through a divorce, but you also are having problems at work and with arranging for child custody and with handling the lost friendships because of the divorce that you become overwhelmed.
So then, what do you do now? You realize that there is more than one thing going on and acknowledge that it may get worse before it gets better. Then you back up and give yourself some grace. One moment, one action, rarely defines who you are as a person. You are the composite of all your actions, all your beliefs, and all your behaviors. The only way your one ill-conceived action can define you is if you choose to let it.
This has made me wonder, what do I do when I see a friend or colleague acting in a manner inconsistent with whom and what he/she is? Do I write them off as erratic and uncontrollable? Do I end the relationship that I have with them? I hope not.
Since we all are in the club, we’ve all ‘been there and done that’ at some point, I choose to show others some grace also. It’s the very rare day that I allow one thing to end any relationship.
Wouldn’t it be nice if others would extend to us the same courtesy and grace? When someone is at their very worst, they really need someone who is at their very best.