Rollercoaster?! Merry-Go-Round?!

There are certain movies that I watch once a year at specific times, like Christmas or during Lent etc.  However, there is one that I think I need to add to my repertoire, and just commit to watching at least once a year, during particularly stressful times in my life.  If you’ve read my very first blog post, you know that I came about my blog title through stress and chaos.  If you’ve poked around my site I’m sure you’ve noticed that my blog is more about messes, stress and chaos then peace and calm.  While I crave peace and calm and strive for it, the reality is that I often live more in mess, stress and chaos.

This year has been more chaotic and stressful than others.  It’s not any one thing per say, it’s been lots of little things that have been adding up.  This week in particular has been very stressful and eventful.  Tonight, I just sort of shut down.  I came home took a long, detoxifying shower, and then soaked in an Epsom salt, lavender bath with a mask on my face.  I listened to relaxing music and read a magazine.  When I finished I slathered lotion on, dressed in comfy clothes and plopped down in front of TV.  Looking for anything of value or comedic relief to watch, I came across the movie Parenthood.  This movie is one of my favorites for several reasons.  I love most of the actors in this movie, it’s about life as a parent, it was shot locally where I live, one of the trucks in the background of the racing scene was the Director’s (my hubby, not the movie director) best friend’s truck (brings back lots of happy memories), and my all time favorite movie quote (listed at the top of my blog) comes from this movie.

I watched the movie again and I had sort of an epiphany.  I watched most of the movie for the simple pleasure of watching a movie.  When it came to the part right before Grandma gives her speech, where Gil is stressed and arguing with Karen, I began to feel overwhelmed.  Then Grandma gave her parable like speech.  "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."  When she was done I found my self with tears in my eyes.  As the movie went on and the scene where Gil is at his daughter’s play and everything unravels, it shows him feeling like he’s on a roller coaster as the chaos plays out.  I found myself really crying and it dawned on me that I had forgotten about Grandma’s speech. 

For the first time in all the times I’ve watched that movie I saw myself as Gil, stressed out, serious, worried, overwhelmed and tense.  I’ve become obsessed with the messes and I’m so focused on the smallest details, that I’ve lost my perspective.  We watched Soul Surfer recently; in the movie, Bethany’s youth minister tells the youth group, if you are too close to something, you might need a new perspective.  I know after watching Parenthood tonight that I need a new perspective.

Life is a roller coaster!  It is not a merry-go-round, and how boring would it be if it was a merry-go-round?  As I thought about this and my life right now, I was reminded of an article I read awhile ago.  The article is an interview with Rick Warren the author of Purpose Driven Life, below is an excerpt that really made me think.
We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn’t going to make sense.
Life is a series of problems: you are in one now, you’re just coming out of one, or you’re getting ready to go into another one.
The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort; God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy.
We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that’s not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.
This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer.
I used to think that life was hills and valleys – you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore.
Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life.
No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on.
And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.
You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems:
If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness, which is my problem, my issues, my pain.’ But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others.

I realized after re-reading that tonight that I have been focusing on my problems and all the mess in my life.  I need a new perspective!  I need to focus on my character and not my comfort.  I need to work on a holy life and not be so obsessed with a happy life.  I need to work on being less like Gil and more life Grandma!

The other night we went to Disney and The Little Man wanted desperately to ride Big Thunder Mountain like his older siblings.  When we found out he was tall enough to ride, I decided to go with them and make sure he didn’t fly out of the train.  Once the ride started I knew he was scared.  I wrapped both my arms around him and held on to him tightly and told him over and over, “It’s OK, it’s fun, it’s almost over, I’ve got you, I won’t let anything happen to you, Mommy is right here.”   Watching the movie, writing this, remembering Rick Warren’s interview, I’ve decided that my new perspective is to re-focus on God and the good things in my life!  I also realized, God is riding right next to me on the roller coaster of life.  His arms are wrapped tightly around me, telling me, it’s OK, it’s almost over, I’m right here, I’ve got you, I won’t let anything happen that you can’t handle.  Even with that comforting thought, like The Little Man, I’m moaning a bit and I’m ready to get off for awhile.  With some challenges I feel the same way The Little Man does, “I not like that ride, it was stary (scary)!”


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