A job or relationship lost. Leaving college because of uncertainty about a major. A change in how you relate to your dad and mom, or to whatever configuration of people defines your family. A hope turned south right when things were looking up.
Transitions can really suck. I’m not sure who first said, “All change is perceived as loss,” but their six little words really nailed the truth. Dead on, I’d say. And in the midst of that loss, regardless of whether it’s real or perceived, time can seem to stop.
What once upon a time used to make sense is now out of focus. What previously used to bring comfort now breeds unsettledness. What formerly struck a chord of familiarity now sounds dissonant and harsh.
And in life-chapters like this, I think of T.S. Eliot, an American poet, critic and author (1888-1965), who wrote, "We had the experience, we missed the meaning." Another truth-nail squarely hammered into place. And unlike transition, truth seldom sucks. In times of change and loss, it’s so easy to passively let the experiences we’re going through define us instead of doing the hard work, the intentional work of inviting our experiences to point us to meaning.
Why am I at this crossroads? How will the choices I make today influence where I want to be tomorrow? Where is the peace I see others resting in during their transition times—the peace that’s alluding me? What will it take for me to move from A to B? Who are the people God has given me as resources during this time, and how am I treasuring their input and influence? These are the kinds of questions that will help us find the meaning behind, inside, under and around the backside of our experiences.
I love movies—and sometimes it’s the questions that they lead me to and into that can help time start ticking again, meaning to come and loss to turn into discovery. As I’ve recently been going through my own season of transition, here are six movies (some older, some newer) God has been talking to me through …
Regarding Henry (PG-13/Harrison Ford, Annette Bening/1991). What suffering and tragedy teaches us about priorities, the shape of our character and the way "the person we’re becoming" affects those around us.
Brother Son, Sister Moon (PG/Directed by Franco Zeffirelli/1971). What does it mean to take a risk that costs us everything we own, but through which we gain everything we need?
The Hudsucker Proxy (PG/A Coen Brothers film/Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh/1994). What role does "coincidence" play in the grand scheme of our lives and the way the pieces of our "life-puzzle" fit together? Can we be "naively used" by others and remain "naively in control" at the same time—and can we end up holding all the right cards even as the people who think they’re steering the ship end belly-up?
I Know Where I’m Going! (NR/A Powell-Pressburger film/Wendy Hiller, Roger Livesey/1945). What happens when "Plan A" serendipitously collides with "Plan B"? What is the difference between "fate" and “destiny"?
Crash (R/Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon/2004). How are the experiences of my life (even of just 36 hours) linked? How are my fears and hurts related to my attitudes and words? Can people really change … not just cosmetically, but at their core?
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (PG/Harrison Ford, Sean Connery/1989). Specifically the scene near the end of the film when Indiana steps out onto an unseen bridge and discovers that true to his father’s Grail Diary, although the bridge was invisible, it was there and would take him not only to The Grail, but would also bring healing to his pop.
Hudson Taylor—a mid-19th century Brit, who, along with his wife Maria, brought the message of Jesus Christ to China, was a man well-acquainted with the tyranny of time, the pain of loss and the frustration of transition—wrote, "In faith, we step off in the seeming unknown and find our feet come to rest upon the rock." I want to live in this kind of faith and invite you to join me in the quest of doing so.