“You know how everyone’s always saying seize the moment? I don’t know, I’m kind of thinking it’s the other way around, you know, like the moment seizes us.” —Boyhood
Based on a recommendation from a friend, my wife and I caught the new(-ish) movie Boyhood, yesterday.
The movie–no spoilers here–was filmed over the course of twelve years and follows the coming of age of Mason, from around 6 years old to his first days of freshman year in college (when the above quote takes place).
It’s a thoroughly candid look at coming of age in America, particularly in Texas. I could sing the movie’s praises–good acting, raw true to life storyline, etc.–but something caught my eye and ear afterward.
In conversation after the movie, Jill (my wife) and I kicked around reflections and takeaways.
The thing that stuck out to me about the movie was its normalcy. Major life transitions just seemed normal, everyday, mundane.
Mason’s family sings him an off-key “Happy Birthday,” just like millions of other families every single day.
Mason grows out his hair in middle school, is forced to cut it, grows it out again in high school.
Perhaps most tellingly, Mason’s high school graduation ceremony is followed by a party every bit as awkward as yours.
I’ve read other reflections on the movie that say it is overwhelming, so many life transitions in a three hour period. I’ll concede that, we watch a boy grow from 6 to 18 before our eyes, so I get where these folks are coming from.
But the thing I drove away from the theater thinking is how normal life is.
With the advent of social media (and before, I’m sure), we’re constantly afforded the opportunity to compare our lives to other peoples’.
Whether it’s a wedding, bachelor/bachelorette party, birthday party, graduation experience, vacation, gender reveal party, (even a baptism?) or any other of a number of events people post on social media about, we’re out on Pinterest or Google to find a better way to do it.
And if we’ve already done it ourselves, then we’re left comparing our experience to everyone else who has presumably done it better, or at least differently than us.
And if we’re not comparing to other people’s lives, then we’re comparing to our own future/past.
Past: While we lived in Durham, NC, Jill and I had some of the best experiences of community ever to that point. We may never have a community as complete again in our lives. It’s easy to compare life now to then, even though we’re surrounded by a wonderful community and family in Wichita.
Future: Jill is 33 weeks pregnant. It’s easy (especially for her, since she’s the one going through all the pain) to jump ahead to week 40 or whenever this baby decides to make an appearance. It’s easy to imagine what life will be like then and miss the moments and days of pregnancy.
What about your life?
- Do you catch yourself looking ahead to the next “thing?”
- The promotion that will transform your job?
- The new job that will be so much better than your current job?
- The guy or girl who will fulfill your wildest dreams and transform your life?
- The paycheck amount that will finally free you to do what you want with your life?
- The goal you’ve been training and planning for, that once you achieve it will make everything better, give you clarity of life and purpose?
The more we talked yesterday, the more I realized so much of life can be wished away in search of these “major event”s. And how we make such a big deal of events that, while great, are just another day.
Take our wedding, for instance, it was a great day, but it wasn’t a transformative day. The days before and the days after, that turned into weeks, months, and years, those have been transformative.
**Photo: Bruce L Snell
But people hype weddings up to mythic status (if you’re not married or don’t believe me, substitute graduation/18th/21st birthday/college and see if it doesn’t work), as if it’s some life changing event.
And it is, and it isn’t.
Which is how so many of these life events are: normal, routine, beautiful.
When you don’t over-hype a transition or event (not that you shouldn’t have goals or dreams), you recognize the beauty of this moment. And when you are open to each moment, it just might seize you.
Because even in this life of trying to follow Jesus, we try to make things major. Your conversion should be a heart-palpitating tear filled, come to Jesus moment. A major transition should occur. You should be perfect and different.
But so often we don’t experience it. And worship is held to the same standard, heck, even God is held to the standard. You should experience and feel God, and often. If you don’t, maybe you’re doing it wrong.
And if you don’t have it all figured out, then enroll in a class, read a book, pray for hours, or do something so you can look forward to the moment of completion when you will have it figured out.
But unfortunately, life with God, is still just life. And life, in all its day-to-day normalcy is beautiful
, I’m 99% sure, especially after I get that ________.
But seriously, who or what are you looking to for validation of your moment(s)?
Let go of the over-the-top and settle in for the long and beautiful haul that is life.
Because the more we let the moment seize us, the more we might notice the beauty of the moment. The beauty of the person we would have ignored on the way to our next big moment. The beauty of God’s still small voice we might have drowned out in the cries over wishing some event was more than it turned out to be.
And instead of wishing our lives away, we might just discover that all of life is in this moment, because it’s the only place we can be–however majestic or mundane.
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