Most parents have probably seen the recent Lego® Movie by now, enduring the intense crowds and gorging of sugar and popcorn.
My favorite part (not) was the catchy and annoying song Everything is Awesome. If you are like me, the song wouldn’t leave my head for weeks and woke me at night, reverberating off my inner sanctum of peaceful sleep.
If you haven’t seen the movie, I will give you a little rundown. First of all, it is hilarious and very well done.
Emmet is the main character, who is living a rule-following life where everything is awesome. Yet, there is a rub, as he begins to recognize he has no value and others make fun of him. It doesn’t take long for his life of perfection to be shattered as evil characters attempt to take over the world.
Emmet is chosen as the Special to defeat evil. One of the characters, Wyldstyle, says to him, “The prophecy states that you are the most special, most talented, and most extraordinary person in the universe. That’s you, right?”
Ahhh, the gospel was all over this movie. The words spoken by Wyldstyle to Emmet remind us that, as believers, we are in fact His beloved. Jesus’s righteousness is credited to us (Rom 4:24); thereby, we are the apple of His eye (Deu 32:10). We are extraordinary because of Christ in us.
Just as Emmet discovers, we also know, in this life everything is not awesome. We get tastes of heaven, but there is real suffering.
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13)
We also know that evil is in fact real– hunting us daily, second by second.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
So, how do we live in a life this side of heaven? When things are not always awesome?
A bleeding soul may scab over, but at odd times in our lives, it may break open again. Suffering is real. Parents die, babies pass away, friends betray us, loved ones are diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses.
Standing in line at the supermarket or driving down the road, we may suddenly become overwhelmed and surprised with a sorrow so great that we find ourselves checking out with our groceries or driving down the road through tears and trembling.
Sometimes new wounds may cause another rupture of the soul, which floods us with so many memories of past losses that we are faced again with a soul profusely bleeding.
In his book A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, Gerald Sittser says, “Loss forces us to see the dominant role our environment plays in determining our happiness. Loss strips us of the props we rely on for our well-being. It knocks us off our feet and puts us on our backs. In the experience of loss, we come to the end of ourselves.”
I’ve had years buried in all kinds of numbness to block sorrow, some of the years as a nonbeliever involved very self-destructive deadening. In a world of technology, we can easily submerge ourselves in iPhones, electronic games, email, internet surfing, and an overall sense of busyness.
I have some years of my life that I have labeled the Ben & Jerry years. I would seriously sit down and eat a whole pint every night before bed as a way to anesthetize the ache in my soul. And my waistline quickly reflected the soul ache! We can also deal with suffering by delving into less socially acceptable avenues such as porn, alcohol, and drugs.
All of this points to the fact that we, as finite creatures, were made to worship. If we aren’t worshiping the One true Creator, we will invent something else to worship– avoiding God and disengaging from pain.
In this life, a hurting heart is a beating heart– pain is a signal that we are alive. We have a pulse. Authentic lives recognize that sorrow is a real part of life and who we are. There is always joy and hope in new life– the resurrection life. Embracing hope and joy is paramount to survival in life this side of heaven. If we have no hope, we have nothing but emptiness. The empty tomb gives us hope.
A new life in Christ gives us hope.
This takes courage, as it is much easier to numb, run, or hide. Masks are for Halloween and Mardi Gras, not for living the authentic life. I should know, I’ve got a repertoire of masks I’ve used over the years. We all do. What are yours?
1. Jerry L. Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss, (Zondervan, 2004) 89.
Melanie is a wife and mama to 4 children– 3 biological and 1 foster child. Most of her life was spent running from the true Giver of Life. She is thankful He never gave up on her and pulled her out of the muck and mire into a place of joy. Visit her at Running to the Father.