Basketball and Perfection

We attended our Stake Conference this past weekend, where the theme was about families who are consecrated unto the Lord.

Maybe it’s just the topic of families – something that everyone can identify with on so many levels – but I really enjoyed this conference, more than most.  All the speakers seemed to present a relevant, spot-on message, and the experiences they shared were personal and relative to what we’re all going through, I think.

Our Stake President shared an analogy about BYU basketball, specifically, about their star player, Jimmer Fredette.

I’m sure no one follows BYU sports as closely as my husband’s family does.  So I’m sure there are many people who don’t even know who he is.  I won’t bore you with too many details; suffice it to say that he is a tremendously talented player who is having a stellar year.  He is averaging about 27 points per game, and often scores 30 points in a game, making the most mind-boggling 3-point shots.  He is the talk of the town lately, and he is a good, decent guy who seems to be taking it all in stride.

On January 26, BYU played a game against San Diego State University.  It was an exciting, close game, well played by both teams.  But BYU was able to edge them out in the end.  Jimmer put in a star performance, playing all but one minute of the game and scoring 43 points out of BYU’s total 71 points.  San Diego was very highly ranked so far this season (as was BYU), and so it was a thrilling victory for all loyal BYU fans.

But, our Stake President then said, in light of all the attention and spotlight on Jimmer, one might be surprised to learn that he also led the team that night in turnovers and missed shots.  In spite of those ‘deficiencies,’ however, his performance is nothing to balk at.  He was superior, and he gave it all his best efforts, as always.  Mistakes included, he is still deserving of the praise he has received – certainly he has applied himself and developed his skills and talents and has earned it.

A performance like that, is a good example of how life is and should be.

It’s not likely that any basketball player would ever go into a game expecting to have a perfect game – no missed shots, no fouls, no turnovers, no mistakes, etc.  It is darn near an impossibility for any player, no matter how superior.  Especially when you consider that one of the main points of the other team’s effort is to force their opponents to make those mistakes in the hopes that it will add up and prove to be in their favor.  But that should not detract from a player’s well-done, dedicated, much-earned performance.

Yet, how many of us go about our lives hoping for a perfect game?  And them whomp all over ourselves when it doesn’t turn out that way?  Completely disregarding any good that we have accomplished despite our imperfect performance?

I know I am guilty of that, which is why I think I connected with his message so strongly.  I need to try harder to enjoy my well-done, dedicated, and much-earned performances when they happen – imperfect games notwithstanding.

The point of life is not to turn in a perfect game.  Especially when you consider that the whole purpose of our most ardent opponent (Mr. Satan) is to elicit mistakes from us and cause turnovers in our game.

The point is to turn in the best performance that we can, and then get up when knocked off course.

The Savior’s Atonement has been put in place to ‘cover for’ or make up for those mistakes, if we will but acknowledge the mistakes, redirect our course, and put in another best effort during the next game.

That’s the difference between a basketball game and life.

As we saw this past Saturday, even BYU will lose a game here and there, despite a best-effort performance and despite how spectacular their previous win was.

With our Savior, we can win every game, despite our imperfect performance.

That’s what it means to be in a partnership with someone who is perfect.

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