Almost every semester, I show the movie Life as a House as a lead-in to one of our essays in my freshman comp class. I use it differently almost every time I use it, but I always find a way to make it work. I LOVE this movie.
Years ago (the movie came out in 1999 or 2000 or sometime thereabouts), I was visiting my sister and we decided to watch a movie on-demand. We settled on this movie, Life as a House. If you've ever seen it, you know that it has a VERY rough beginning. In all honesty, it's the type of beginning that makes you wonder why we continued watching it. As a Christian, I was having a very difficult time with the language as well as the subject matter. My sister and I discussed turning it off, but we decided that it seemed to have a point, so we were going to give it a little longer before we turned it off.
Then, just as the movie was making a turn for the better, the lights went out. A storm had been raging outside for quite a while, but we didn't feel it necessary to turn off everything. When the lights went out, we both screamed and then asked each other if we thought the movie would go back to where we were. We were quite upset at being interrupted during the movie.
It was then that I realized that this movie might have had a rough beginning, but it was making a powerful impact on me.
By the end of the movie, we were both crying buckets. Ever since then, Life as a House has been one of those movies I tell everyone I can to watch and I make people watch it even if they don't want to!
I bring it up here in this blog about finding Joy Regardless of life's circumstances because in the movie, George, the main character played by Kevin Kline, tells his son Sam, played by Hayden Christenson, "You know the great thing, though, is that change can be so constant you don't even feel the difference until there is one. It can be so slow that you don't even notice that your life is better or worse, until it is. Or it can just blow you away, make you something different in an instant. It happened to me."
I have experienced such change both ways--change for the worse and change for the better--and both have been "so constant [I didn't] even feel the difference until there [was] one." Prior to my explosion at my husband a few short years ago, I knew something was wrong, but life was going on....I was getting done what needed to be done...I was functioning. I went to school. I went to church. I did my job. I talked to my son. I read. But I wasn't LIVING. I was a body moving around with no real soul. I was angry, depressed, spiritless, lifeless, and worst of all, I hated myself and my life. I didn't even realize just how bad things were until I couldn't control my anger towards my husband. I had found my way into the very back recesses of my cave (see previous posts) and I hadn't even realized I was in such incredible darkness.
I had to go away for a time to collect and pull myself together. (Thank you, Fairhaven Ministries.)
Since that time, I have been consistently reading my Bible. I've been doing a daily Bible reading plan to read through the Bible each year. I haven't finished it every year since then, but I've continued to read my Bible, regardless.
I have done any number of Bible studies, most of which have been on Joy: Kay Warren's Choose Joy; Margaret Feinberg's Fight Back with Joy; Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts; Joyce Meyer's Seven Things that Steal Your Joy; as well as anything else I have been able to get my hands on regarding joy.
I began counseling--again--with a trusted counselor. I started going every week at first and then gradually worked down to doing just once a month.
I got back into church. I had quit going for a while because I was just too overwhelmed with everything. Yes, I know....my husband is a pastor and I QUIT going to church. But I couldn't handle it. I've started teaching Sunday School again! That's a big one!
And, as I mentioned in my previous post, I began exercising/working out recently! I'm MOVING in some way, shape, form, or fashion at minimum 5 out of 7 days during the week! And I'm loving it--well, I'm enjoying it a whole lot more than I ever expected! :)
My point is that just as change was so constant in the direction of "worse" that I wasn't truly aware of what was happening, but it was also so constant in the direction of "better" without my being FULLY aware of what has been happening. I've felt better, but I haven't been fully AWARE of things being better....until recently.
And it's wonderful. Just as George realized that he was no longer going to let the "yucky" stuff in his life keep him from living, he consciously CHOOSES to LIVE. To make a life...to build a life, as George says: "I always thought of myself as a house. I was always what I lived in. It didn't need to be big. It didn't even need to be beautiful. It just needed to be mine. I became what I was meant to be. I built myself a life. I built myself a house."
I don't see myself as a house as he does. My analogy is of being in a dark, scary, horrific cave and rather than building a house to build my life, I came out of the cave, out of the darkness, and into the light! I don't need to be beautiful (to others). I just need to live my life the best I can, being a shining light for my Lord who has led me out of darkness and into the light!
I came out of the darkness and into the light...I have built myself a life of joy through the power of the Holy Spirit. And just as George's house is amazing and shows the positive changes in his life, the fact that God has sealed my cave shut shows the positive, wonderful changes in my own life.
So while my story is different from George's, the essence, the point is the same: we both realized life STUNK and we made conscious choices to change and make life better. George built a house to demonstrate the positive changes in his life. God is anointing me with His oil of JOY more than on anyone else! He is using me as a light to shine for Joy for him.
I am becoming more and more what God has always meant for me to be, and I can't wait to see what God does in and with me next!!!