I love movies. I love the feeling of getting lost in a story that’s nothing like my own story line. There’s something in my anxious personality that relishes any chance I get to become engrossed in something far from my reality. Someone else’s story sometimes gives just the escape from my own that my soul needs.
Sometimes, though, the story of the movie I’m watching is so far from my reality that I have no idea what’s going on. I try to figure out the plot. With every twist and turn, every interaction between the characters, every hint and foreshadowing clue, I try to make sense of what I’m watching. Sometimes I can get it. Sometimes I can pat myself on the back and sit back, watching the pieces come together as I knew they would. Sometimes I have the pleasure of talking with my husband after the movie is over and saying, “Oh, I knew that’s what was going to happen. You didn’t see that coming?” Those times are rare, though.
Instead of making sense of things, I usually piece everything together all wrong. Instead of assembling the actual story line, I usually have the feeling that I’ve missed something. I’ve missed something BIG and will never figure it out until I find that missing piece. I make a guess, only to see it fall apart. There have been times that I’ve been so lost in my efforts to make sense of things that I miss important details…important segments of the plot, further assuring that I’ll forever remain confused.
Sometimes, though, I sit back and try my best to remember that movies are supposed to be fun. When I finally get that into my head, I try to hold on to what I’m watching, hoping that I’m catching the details that I’ll need to understand for it all to come together in the end. I try my best to be in the moment. I cling to the hope that the director and producer and all the people behind the scenes of the movie aren’t going to leave me in the dark forever. It’s in their best interest to complete the puzzle with all the pieces properly in place before the credits begin to roll.
When I finally remember that, I can actually enjoy the show. That’s what it’s there for, after all, and if I’m going to commit a couple of hours to the story, I should at least allow myself the freedom of getting lost in it.
My Grandpa is in the hospital, having had a couple of serious heart attacks last week. He is not here in town, so every day I talk to my mom on the phone to get the latest details on how he is doing; I get the scoop and then pass it on down the line, requesting prayer and reassurance from anyone who will listen.
I don’t have a lot of medical background. I don’t understand a lot of what is going on with him now, and my conversations with my mom (a retired registered nurse) are punctuated with my questions. “Hold on…I’ve heard of that, but I don’t know what it means.” “What does that stand for?” “And is that serious?” “And if that’s it, what will they do?” “How is this looking to you?”
All we can do is speculate. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, or even what is going on right this minute. We don’t know how this story is going to end. There are far too many uncertainties, and committing to any possibility even in speculation seems wrong somehow. We have our hunches…our gut feelings…but we have no idea how this will play out.
One minute we hear he’s doing better, and are given the hope of his return home. The next update we get, though, has a totally different ring to it. Plummeting blood pressure…poor kidney function…poor oxygen saturation levels… Just as we begin to feel good about things, daring to guess what direction we might be headed, the plot turns. Everything changes yet again, and we’re back to square one.
This has been going on for my family for just a little while (this episode has, at least), and it has greatly increased my respect for other families who endure years and years of illness and bad news and hospitalizations and treatments. I can say this with all honesty: I don’t know how they do it.
As we’ve ridden this roller coaster up and down, up and down this week, I have learned (or been reminded of) one thing.
Life is not like the movies.
This is no shocking revelation, I’m sure, but maybe in this context it makes you think. In a movie, we are guaranteed to find resolution. It may not be the end we want, and it may not come when we want it. It may be a vague ending, leaving us with more questions. However and whenever it comes, we know that the plot will come to resolution. The end. Roll credits.
Whereas in a movie theater we can hold onto the hope that the producers won’t forever leave us hanging, in life we hold on to a very different hope.
We may be left hanging. We may never, ever see resolution. We don’t know what is coming tomorrow or next week or in five short minutes. We don’t have any assurance whatsoever that any situation, be it with health or finances or politics or relationships, will be tied up neatly with a pretty bow. Life is messy. That is reality.
The hope we have, though, when the plot of life is running amok and we don’t know what’s going on is that our screenplay is completed. While we might never get to see the final scene in this life, it is the most perfect scene imaginable.
We know that because our screenwriter – the author of our story – has promised where our characters will end up. We don’t know what the journey will look like on the way. We don’t know how twisted the story line will become, or how convoluted things will get in the meantime. All we know is that before the credits roll, when all is said and done, the story is perfected and complete. We may not understand. We may wonder what has just happened. Our only job, though, is to be fully involved characters in the story of our lives, soaking up every detail as it comes. We are responsible not for understanding, but for fully appreciating the creativity of our Author.
I don’t know what will happen with Grandpa tomorrow. I don’t even know what is happening in his hospital room right now. As hard as it is for me to accept, I don’t need to know those things. I do know the one thing that matters right now: Grandpa has long ago given his story over to His Author, and while we can’t see it yet, there is a perfect ending on its way. We don’t know when. We don’t know how, for him or for any of us, but we know all we need to know. And that, friends, is enough for tonight.
Journeying with you,