Thursday, January 6, 2011

I Didn't Wanna Do It

I'm not much for the so called genre known as Chick Lit, nor do I find myself drawn towards the books Oprah has endorsed as worthy for her club.

As such, Eat Pray Love held no real appeal to me, with the whole premise of glob-trotting to find oneself being completely irrelevant (and impractical) to my life - I didn't feel a connection would be made.  And I didn't see that it fit in with my values, seeing as its plot hinges upon the dissolution of a marriage - apparently for little compelling reason, other than the oft-cited, self-indulgent "I fell out of love."  That whole vein of thinking is a selfish cop-out to me, being that I've fallen out of love with my own husband about as many times as I've fallen in love with him over the years, and where would we be if I'd been so selfish to call it quits on those grounds alone?

Lately, I've been in a funk though, and found myself craving something inspirational, if not just a couple hours of thought-provocation.  So I added Eat Pray Love, the movie, to my Netflix queue.

And promptly fell in love with it.  So much so, that I now want to read the book.

Oh, Julia Roberts' character, Elizabeth Gilbert, struck me as selfish alright - but lately, I have seen myself in that light, too.  It was nice to be able to project my frustrations with myself onto someone else for a couple hours for a change.

Some of the more new age-y concepts of God didn't align with mine - particularly that of God dwelling within you.  Theological tangent in 3..2..1: I agree that God dwells within those who choose Him and commit to Him, that's called the Holy Spirit - and I even agree with Gilbert's assertion (below) inasmuch that God lives in any of us, despite our tempers, our ambitions, emotions, etc., but God does not conform to us by living in us, as us, nor does He conform us all into the same type of Stepford-like person.  Instead He transforms us into beings that are closer to Him and His will, as he takes up residence in our diverse, as He intentionally created them to be, souls and personalities.
God's not interested in watching a performance of how a 'spiritual' person looks and behaves. The quiet girl who glides silently through the place with a gentle, ethereal smile...who is that person? It's Ingrid Bergman in "The Bells of St. Mary's" – not me.
That does ring true...I certainly don't think that Mary Magdalene and a bunch of ignorant fishers, some with tempers, were the quiet, spiritual types with ethereal smiles, speaking "Peace be with you," to passersby - and yet, these are the types among whom Jesus chose to dwell.  God wanted them, and He wants me, as me, and you too.

So, overall?  I found some nuggets of wisdom and inspiration that I'm that surprisingly resonated with me.
A friend took me to the most amazing place the other day. It's called the Augusteum. Octavian Augustus built it to house his remains. When the barbarians came they trashed it a long with everything else. The great Augustus, Rome's first true great emperor. How could he have imagined that Rome, the whole world as far as he was concerned, would be in ruins. It's one of the quietest, loneliest places in Rome. The city has grown up around it over the centuries. It feels like a precious wound, a heartbreak you won't let go of because it hurts too good. We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we're afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins. Then I looked at around to this place, at the chaos it has endured - the way it has been adapted, burned, pillaged and found a way to build itself back up again. And I was reassured, maybe my life hasn't been so chaotic, it's just the world that is, and the real trap is getting attached to any of it. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.
This made me think of the whole beauty for ashes passage in Scripture, and comforted me, particularly the thought about getting too attached to the events of life.

The largest nugget, though, would be the Quest Physics conclusion, emphasis mine:
In the end, I've come to believe in something I call "The Physics of the Quest." A force in nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity. The rule of Quest Physics goes something like this: If you're brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house to bitter, old resentments, and set out on a truth-seeking journey, either externally or internally, and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher and if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then the truth will not be withheld from you. 

Again, as a Christian, I see this through a bit of a different, albeit complimentary, lens.  Mainly, I feel  the Truth Gilbert speaks of is none other than Jesus, but all the same I see a parallel in this quest physics theorem with the whole spiel that He gave about us denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Him.  In doing such, I believe that one of the biggest crosses we have to bear is that of the blinds we wear regarding our innermost workings – that unless we look long and hard at ourselves and take an honest inventory and repent of those things counter to what God has in mind for us, unless we take up that cross, all the other ones we may carry, our jobs, roles and relationships, etc., are in vain.  It’s kind of like in The Power of a Praying Wife, when Stormie Omartian realizes that the ‘Father, change him’ prayer is far less important than that of ‘Father, change me.’  But, it’s not all blame and shame for the self – as Gilbert states, once we see the difficult realities about ourselves, we.  must.  move.  ON!  lest we simply want to pick that sucker [cross] up and just stand there with it.  We gotta follow the Leader, and to do so, we have to want to be different and follow the trail He’s blazing, not the one we’ve trod on forever, comfortably.

For myself, I’ve been in limbo lately re: the whole working versus staying at home conundrum as a result of the recent job opportunity.  [should hear something late next week or early the following week]. 

On the one hand, I’ve seen some things flourish in the time that I’ve been at home that I’m afraid to let go of, should I get the go-ahead from God (right now our prayer is – God, we *think* this was a sign from you, but if it is not, please prohibit it from happening – if it is, let there be incredible peace and green lights all the way).  Like Elizabeth Gilbert’s quest for balance, I desperately sought to improve my family dynamics when I embarked on this journey.  But, also like Gilbert, in doing so I eradicated anything in my life that I thought would distract me from my quest.  I quit volunteering in the non-profit community; I turned down opportunities to speak and participate in homeless programming panels under the guise of not having childcare and/or still needing to recover from my illness; I’ve flaked on countless friends and family and insulated myself to where I’ve focused all my energies into my family.  As Gilbert became the woman who couldn't possibly risk her newfound self by loving a man, I’ve become that martyr-like woman who’s made her family her idol and dares not risk her newfound sense of family by pursuing interests that feed her essence, that person God created her to be.  A mother is never “just” a mother – she is a child of God with her own unique gifts, talents and purpose, many of which will [and should] benefit her family, but need not be exclusive to that.

Whether I get the job or not, I want to find some kind of balance again.  One where my husband and I make time for each other alone, beyond the bedroom.  Where I can volunteer some time and give back.  Where I feel as if I am answering the call to be a light in my community, not just my own home; however, not forsaking my own family in doing so.  I want to feel secure again, to not feel the tightening of the walls each time my phone rings, dreading whichever creditor it may be.  I want to write again – creatively and frankly – and yet, I’ve looked back and seen that my most prolific writing periods were those in which I had to balance many things. 

All this inspired by a movie based on a book I thought I’d hate.  

Amazing what happens when one opens her mind, eh?

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  1. I love love love this. This was such a testimony!

  2. I had avoided Eat, Pray, Love, too...until Christmas break, when Julia Roberts just beckoned me from within the RedBox machine! :-) I LOVED the movie, was entertained from the very first scene. However, I totally ignored the Hindu religious aspects--like you talked about--where God is in all of us, God *is* us.

    Who am I to say what God is? God is.

    But, I still thoroughly enjoyed the movie!!