Learning from Goldfish

September Greetings Dear People of Bethlehem,

I have recently become a diehard fan of the show Ted Lasso on Apple TV.  Anyone in need of a good laugh (and I think that’s pretty much everyone these days) definitely needs to check it out.  It is absolutely hilarious, and results in me genuinely laughing out loud multiple times per episode.  The show follows the titular character Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis), a college football coach from Kansas, as he embarks on a new adventure – coaching Premier League Football in London for AFC Richmond.  Now apart from the fact that he knows nothing about European football (soccer to those of us on this side of the pond), he faces a number of other hurdles as well, including needing to learn what basically amounts to a whole new language.  Yes, even though they speak English, there’s a different word for just about everything.  Jerseys are called kits, cleats are called boots, and cookies are called biscuits just to name a few.

But despite the cultural divide, Ted is able to establish relationships built on trust and mutual respect with pretty much everyone he encounters.  After a particularly bad play, Ted asks one of the players, who oddly enough is named Sam – not sure if God was pointing this lesson at me directly or what, but I sure took note – he asks Sam if he knows what the happiest animal on earth is.  Sam says no, looking quite nonplussed and bewildered.  Ted answers, “It’s a goldfish.  Know why?  Because goldfish only have a 10-second memory.  So go out there and be a goldfish!”  The lesson behind this being, we’re all going to make mistakes.  And the more Sam fixates on his mistakes, the more he gets stuck in his head, the worse he is going to play.  Instead, he should simply shake off those bad plays.  Let them blip out of existence as all things do in the mind of a goldfish once every ten seconds.

I think that this can teach us a lot about how God’s grace works.  Whether it’s on the football pitch, or in our living rooms, or while we are at work or school, not a single one of us is perfect.  We are all going to mess up, make mistakes, fail to live up to expectations (whether they are someone else’s or our own).  And the radical, unfathomable, unreasonable nature of our God is to forgive us every single time.  Now, that doesn’t mean that we can just run around doing whatever we want, unbothered by the consequences because we know God will forgive us.  But it does mean that beating ourselves up over our mistakes, reliving them again and again, getting stuck in those shame and guilt spirals is not at all how God wants us to live.  God wants us to live knowing, that although we are not perfect, we are perfectly loved.  And when we do mess up, or fall short, that we should trust in that abundant grace, get back up, and try again.

Blessings, dear goldfish of God,

Pastor Sam