Over the weekend, my husband and I watched a movie on Netflix entitled, “Something, Anything.” The movie only has a two star rating and has received little acclaim. I chose the movie because it mentioned a young woman who had experienced a tragedy, which caused her to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Isn’t that the path most of us walk? We go along in life, walking the path that we have chosen or possibly, has been thrust upon us, and then when something tragic or unexpected happens, we need to find out why? We need to find out if we have the fortitude to endure. We begin to question the status quo. Life seems strangely off kilter, as if we are on a different channel from the rest of the world.
In the movie, the main character is a newlywed in a marriage we know little about. Her husband appears focused on climbing his career ladder and considers his wife part of that climb. When she has a miscarriage during a company dinner that her husband insisted they attend, her husband is inattentive, absent emotionally and flippantly says, “We can just try again.” She grieves the loss deeply. She walks the grief journey alone. She continues to sense her husband’s inattentiveness and his “need for her to get back to normal.” As if she could forget the loss she experienced as if she had never carried a child in her womb. As if she had never planned and dreamed and worried about being a Mom. Her loss causes her to question the direction her life is heading.
She moves in with her parents, who then leave her alone as they “travel to Europe”. After a real estate deal in her company forces her to accept the offer that affords her company the most profit at the expense of a home seller, she quits her job and accepts a position as a library assistant at a much lesser salary. As she begins to search for her spiritual identity, she receives a sympathy card with a heartfelt personal note from the brother of a high school friend who has become a monk. She is feeling and seeing things differently. Material things become less and less important. She begins to see the needs of others in a new, profound way. She starts searching scripture, using a copy machine in the library to copy pages of a bible so she can study them and take notes on them. She wrestles with what she does not understand. She sells most of her clothes and shoes and gives the money to a fund to help illiteracy and ESL classes.
Through much solitude, noticing and contemplation she begins to find her true self. She embraces simplicity. She finds joy. She discovers her life can have meaning and purpose outside of the social construct to which she previously “belonged”. I loved watching her emerge as the person who was her true self. Slowly, questioning, but emerging like a butterfly from a cocoon. On her quest, she travels to the monastery where her high school friend lived but discovers he has left. She spends the night and witnesses the devotion of the monks with their daybreak prayers. She is struck by their faithfulness. Eventually, she finds her high school friend who advises her to forgive her husband. She returns to her marriage only to realize that her husband is the same and she is vastly changed. She has found faith and purpose and beauty in the gifts of nature and serving. She can no longer fit into the over striving rat race which says, “more is better”-more stuff, more money, more status. She is changed.
This movie does not have the fairy tale ending of a saved marriage and happily ever after but it has the raw, real life story of brokenness and the redemption of a person who seeks to find the way forward. In the work to which I have been called to as a Spiritual Director, I meet with many individuals who are on similar journeys. They desire to find out “who they are” and “where they are going”. In this process of self-discovery, there is often brokenness as the well practiced roles which each of us have been playing in life are shattered for the authentic. Oftentimes there is grief as we let go of “what was” and seek to embrace “what is”. The journey can be arduous and exhausting. It can feel lonely and never ending. Sometimes it feels as if we are revisiting the same places in our soul and long to emerge from this cycle. But through the process, through the hard work, there is healing and discovery of the true self that God created. One slowly releases the filters, baggage, coping and defense mechanisms that have kept them bound. The outcome is freedom and beauty. Our God is the God who brings beauty from ashes if we are willing to walk the journey with Him and open our eyes, minds, hearts and hands to receive.