Chick Flicks…


Chick flicks drive me crazy, but not for the reason you might be thinking. Honestly, I really enjoy a love story. I’m not sure if that means I lose my Man card or not, but it is true. I love to hear a story which explains the quirky history of how two people fell in love with each other. Actually, I enjoy hearing people tell their love stories…

their changing perceptions of each other throughout their courtship…

how they finally determined they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together…

I love those stories.

But, chick flicks drive me nuts…

Why?

Because they seldom show ordinary life! How many times do they show the characters actually at work?

How come the characters always seem to have jobs that are creative, or have both flexibility and high income?

They always seem to live in lofts or expensive houses…

The majority of scenes seem to show these fictional people with excessive amounts of leisure time…

I realize that one of the reasons chick flicks, and movies in general, employ these qualities is for entertainment purposes. Movies usually intend to remove us from the reality of our lives for a couple of hours. They provide an escape from the ordinary which, for many people, is fraught with boring sameness. We become those characters and imagine ourselves living those lives. Frankly,  identifying with the characters is one of the powers of a well-told story. The characters can reveal to us important lessons about our own values and behavior. We may become uncomfortable as we watch a character who is both likable and dysfunctional at the same time. We think:

“Why can’t she see what a great guy he is?”

“Can’t he see how much he is ignoring her?”

“Why can’t they stop shooting themselves in the foot?”

I have learned, however, that there is usually a reason why people act the way they do. Deep reasons. Unrecognised reasons. They may hold a deep, unexplored belief in the probability of:

greener grass…

a better life…

the perfect lover…

a more fulfilling job…

or…

Just. Something. Different.

There is nothing inherently wrong with working to more fully express who God has created us to be, in fact, I think that is the point! But if we allow ourselves to fall into the habit of ingratitude during the ordinariness of life right now; how can we be assured that the “new world” for which we strive and hope won’t become just the “new now”, only to be replaced with another “new, new world?”

Personally, I am learning… check that… I am TRYING to learn to receive my life… my ordinary life… as a gift from God. This isn’t always an easy task. Life… real life… can be difficult and messy. Pain is a particularly difficult gift to receive from God, especially life changing pain, because… deep down… I don’t feel like I deserve it. Deeper still… I feel entitled to pleasure and good things in life. However, good things, can come from unexpected pain. Especially when we allow it to draw us into healthier community with God and other people. Receiving the gift of pain allows me to release my grip on expectations, and the need to control. Through pain, God releases faith in me that develops hope. I am better able to recognise the pain in others and then become a conduit of hope, healing, love, and blessing to them. I can become “Jesus with skin on” for them.

This isn’t a natural mindset, at least for me. It takes practice to ruthlessly trust God’s goodness and provision in the midst of circumstances which scream pain and poverty. Choosing to be thankful develops an ability to perceive and receive the beauty of ordinary life, whatever the circumstances, and then allow an “attitude of gratitude” to push me into a healthier manner of living, towards growth and becoming a facilitator of growth in other people.

Maybe someone will make a movie that celebrates an ordinary life, which isn’t really ordinary at all. I would certainly buy it!

Another typical facet of chick flicks, is that obstacles stand between the hero and heroine at the begin of the story, and are then resolved by the end of the story. This is a classic structure to love stories, and masters of storytelling have historically used it to great effect:

Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet…

Nora Ephron in You’ve Got Mail…………………………………..

A common obstacle is one or more people. Sometimes, as in Romeo and Juliet, they are family members who hate each other. Other times, as in You’ve Got Mail, they are romantic partners. When I was married, I might have said that these obstacles were placed within the story only to enliven the plot. Since my divorce, and after listening to many stories of people going through divorce, I have found these obstacles to be real, at least to one of the partners. So real, that they leave, and pursue another relationship.

In the movies, such new relationships become happily-ever-after, wonderful. The former partner finds their own, new, better lover, and all is right with the world. I have to admit, this plot just seems lovely….

…but I am reminded of the words of a young woman I know who’s now former husband left her for another woman, “I am trying to fall out of love…”

Wow….

It’s a great line.

 Nora?

Could you use that line somewhere?

The problem is that the great line comes out of a heart suffering from excruciating pain.

One of the things I share in our support group, is that each of us take distinct paths through divorce. Nobody can give you a step-by-step prescription to navigate through the pain. However, joining another in their journey, allows each of us to gain strength from each other. I am always amazed at the insight we gain from each other, into our own path. God speaks to me through the mouths and experiences of my friends, and does the same through me to them.

That is both amazing and beautiful…

…and far from ordinary.

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