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“Good is the enemy of the great,” says Jim Collins in his best seller Good to Great. He goes on to explain, “We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life. The vast majority of companies never become great, precisely because the vast majority become quite good — and that is their main problem.”
Ann and I recently tried to make a list of great marriages and we were amazed at how small of a list we came up with. Collins wrote Good to Great to identify the similarities between great companies but the principal of good being the enemy of the great seems to apply to marriage as well. Maybe the reason there are so few great marriages is because there are so many good ones. I mean, we all know that there are some bad marriages out there. We get the chance to witness those marriages on Cheaters, Hoarders, and Meet the Kardashians. Most of the marriages that I know of are good marriages. Good marriages are marriages where the couple is in a loving relationship, they have good jobs and good kids. But the fire has left, there is no mission involved. In general it is unbelievably rare to find people who have found the life and relationships that they deeply wanted, let alone the marriage that they dreamed of. I know we are not married yet but are we too idealistic? Didn’t God make us for abundant intimacy, fervent romance, and epic adventure? The ideals of a good marriage are security, comfort, and relaxation. The largest goal in most people’s lives is to make it to retirement together. I mean, those are good ideals. However, they are the notorious insidious enemy of the great wild love stories!
Why would anyone ever strive to have a great marriage when they are comfortably enjoying their good one? Working on a marriage looks really hard; it’s so much easier to relax and settle for the one you got.
Think of the films that you love. The love stories that have taken your breath away. Were there ideals to security, comfort, and relaxation? Was the mission of the film to settle down in a lovely home? No way.
Titanic grossed 10 billion dollars for a reason. Now I understand it’s not a Godly love story but it sure grips my heart better than hoping to one day be settled down with a wife who works one job while I clock in at another and then come home to unwind in front of the TV in my over-sized chair like I see so many couples do. I’m not saying that I would prefer a 48 hour Hollywood love story like Jack and Rose had but I do want my marriage to be as inspiring to the world. I want my marriage to have the same impact on people that the best love stories have.
In a lot of ways I feel like Ann and I’s relationship right now is good instead of great. We are committed and we love each other but our hearts long for more. We are both restless for something deeper, something more pure. I have not been a great spiritual leader for Ann, just a good one. In a lot of ways I have not deeply fought for heart but rather have only taken on the easy battles for her. I have invited Ann into lots of casual adventures. But we both yearn to head for the sunset on a more crucial expedition. One that requires us
to need God to come through to make it. Our ideal is to live the love story that God has for us however dangerous and wild that may be. It’s so easy to lose track of this and settle down.
The uphill road from good to great does not seem easy. We will need your help. I ask that of those who attend our wedding. And anyone who knows Ann and I best please don’t let us settle for a good marriage. We both want something extraordinary, something great!