This past weekend I took a chance at the video store and rented “The Adjustment Bureau”. In the movie Matt Damon plays a zealous young politician on the fast track to becoming the next JFK. The day before the election news leaks of a prank he pulled at an alumni reunion which subsequently ends his bid for election to congress. As he prepares his concession speech in the men’s room at the Waldorf in New York City, a woman hiding from the hotel security in the mens restroom shares a moment of honesty with him that changes his presepctive on his campaign. In that brief moment David Norris (Matt Damon) falls in love with this woman and can’t explain it. However his pursuit of this new love interest is met with obstacles in the form of men in grey dapper hats. Men who work for “The Adjustment Bureau” reporting to “The Chairman”, or as hollywood would have it “Fate”. See Fate has it’s own plan for the individuals despite what they want for themselves…
Time and again David Norris tries to be with this woman he inexlicably can’t live without, only to be placed back on his pre-assigned track by fate. At the climax of the plot, he confronts one of the agents from the Bureau and asks, “Why can’t I be with her”. The agent looks at him and says “Because she’s enough”. Fate had a different, bigger plan. They wanted him to be president, to change the world, and to live this life many dream of. But as you go through the movie and understand the character none of these things make him feel the way this women does. Fate has done all kinds of things to his life to put him on this track that the “Chairman” believes is best for them both. And in the end, nothing fills in the holes that they feel are there in their lives. Nothing is the same without each other.
So what is enough? Can you have enough? Enough money? Enough time? Enough popularity? Enough love? Enough freedom?
More importantly, how do you know when you have enough?
I see statistics and stories every day of people trying to get enough. They put off having kids because they’re not financially ready. Or they stay at a job they hate becuase they know they’re in line for a promotion. Is it the economy that has so many people playing the lottery or is it having enough that drives peole to dream of being a millionaire? People are working longer and harder to make more money and climb the ladder faster. Personal fulfillment is second to how quickly others can define you as successful. The rash of reality TV has perpetuated a culture of 15 minutes of fame, get rich quick ideals. “Who cares what my life is like or what people think of me as long as I’m rich and they know who I am”. There’s no such thing as contentment. Happiness is only as close as the next paycheck.
Even Pastors get caught up in the dogma of anti-contentment. They’re judged by success, growth, and popularity. Did tithe go up? How many baptisms did you have? Are you writing a book? How many people subscribe to your blog? What would people think if Joel Osteen, Rob Bell, or Mark Driscoll suddenly became Mother Teresa? If they gave up everything and moved to India to live in a shack and serve the lowest of the low? Never preaching or writing again. Immediately people would wonder what’s going on with their marriage. Did the stress get to them? The problem is that the “There’s never enough” outlook on life really only works for the top 5% of the worlds population. Finding that one piece of your life that is “Enough” is difficult and society doesn’t want you to find it. It’s contrarian. Countercultural. And even career-killing. Because lets face it, what boss wants an employee who’s not defined by the work they do, but by the family and friends they have?
For years I’ve struggled with my identity. With who I am, what defines me, and how content I am with that definition. My Twitter account profile has a list of identifiers that could be me on any given day. Husband, father, co-worker, teacher, Christian, secularist, friend, writer, etc. There are so many facets of life that define me. How do you know which is the one? Which is the priority? What is most important?
Is it money? Power? Popularity? Prestige? Possessions?
Or is it family? Friends? Faith? Freedom?
“Because she’s enough”. That line reverberated through my being and has stuck with me every day since because more than anything I want to say “because it’s enough”. And I know I’m not the only one. At the end of the day all the other things are distractions. They pull your focus away from what it is in your heart that needs filled. No one at the end of their life, lying on their deathbed says “I wish I could have spent more time in the office”. In her poem “If I had my life to live over” Erma Bombeck closes with these words.
“Given another shot at life, I would seize every minute… look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.”
Again I ask, what is enough? And how do you know? At the end of the movie David Norris and his companion are finally permitted to be together. With that they are handed a new book of their life together. Instead of the well planned book of events that the Chairman had set up for them, they are given a blank page. I’d like to think that’s how you know what is enough. When you can look up from your life and not worry about what comes next or what is missing. That the same peace and contentment that you can experience sitting on the beach in St. Thomas is the same peace and contentment you have sitting in your cubicle or at the dinner table.