Last night, my husband and I turned on our TV, hunkered down on our couch and said goodbye to “Parks and Recreation.”
During our last semester of college, Mike and I watched P&R together, starting with S1E1. I immediately fell for the quirky characters, witty script, compelling story and the Indiana setting.
Since episode one, I’ve loved Leslie Knope. Her enthusiasm for her work, commitment to her friends and relentless optimism was a nice change after a few years of watching “The Office.” She’s become a bit of an inspiration for me because she embodies many of the values I came to own during my four years at Purdue and that I want to live out in my own life.
She sees people as people, not a means to her own agenda. This last season, Leslie had the chance to advance her own agenda at the cost of seeing her enemy fall prey to the throes of Tammy 2. Instead of letting that happen to her nemesis, she comes alongside him and helps him out of a rough spot, even though it costs her.
Along the same lines, I liked her comments to April last night on the reason to have children. You don’t have children for your life to be perfect, she explains. You have them because you and your spouse are a good team, and you want more team members. While not a wholly Biblical statement, it’s a breath of fresh air from the pop culture where children can be seen as the finishing touches on the good life.
She knows her priorities in life, and acts accordingly. The image below captures the essence of Leslie. Nothing holds her back from doing what’s important and keeping her commitments.
She’s honest. Enough said.
She celebrates the good. Leslie’s optimism is contagious, albeit annoying at times. But her attitude of looking for the good challenges any pessimism I find in myself and she shows me what it looks like to embody hope.
She “gets” work. Few shows have displayed the glory and dignity of work as well as P&R. In the words of the woman herself: “When we worked here together, we fought, scratched, and clawed to make people’s lives a tiny bit better. That’s what public service is all about.” And that, my friends, is a goal of our God given work. We can embrace this goal with even more enthusiasm than Leslie because we know that our work not only matters to others, but is for God’s glory, is a means of grace and bears enduring significance.
She values community. In a culture where we’re taught to view relationships as commodities and view people as a means to our ends, Leslie cherishes her people and invests wholeheartedly in them. Her community it a diverse one, filled with people who challenge her and don’t agree with her. She knows how to disagree with someone, but still count them as a friend. She lives out the truth that “friendship actually ‘opens up’ parts of a person that would never be brought to the surface apart from those relationships. From our lives, community pulls out strengths to be celebrated and weaknesses to be challenged.”
Leslie Knope, you’ll be missed.