Just caught the Julia Roberts movie of the book Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, in which a woman ditches her marriage, blindsides her husband and sets out on a “self quest” to find herself and God.
Don’t know how long this movie has been around, my kids rented it, and I had till 9:17pm to watch it. I watched it with the usual critical eye of one who rarely watches movies because they seem so transparent and flimsy.
In the movie Ms. Gilbert instinctively seems to know that her inner unhappiness is a God shaped hole in her heart; but she shreds her husband’s heart in an effort to repair her own. In the movie he is portrayed as a simple man, the usual suspect lacking sensitivity and not quite grounded in Ms. Gilbert’s expectations of marriage.
Her first instinct was correct, she got on her knees and asked for help from God, and was told by what seemed to be the “small still voice” to go back to bed…..which she does, and then promptly announces to her stunned husband that she doesn’t want to be married anymore.
She then jets to Italy for four months to learn how to enjoy the simple things in life, food, wine and the company of other un-tethered and completely ungrounded souls. This puts some distance between herself and her previous life, but her conscience is still with her. She determined to travel next to India to live at a sacred ashram and to tend to her inner spirit life.
Coincidentally in the “Shouts & Murmurs” Column of The New Yorker “A Cursing Mommy Serenity Prayer” Dec. 20&27 2010, humorist Ian Frazier takes a pot shot at Ms. Gilbert:
“Now there are steps you must take to get in touch with your inner self, and the essential first step is to dump your …….lets say, to dump your not-that-great husband. Apparently, this is the teaching of all the great religions of the East: start with the heave-ho!”
Trying to meditate and clear her mind at the ashram Ms. Gilbert’s character finds the hardest work has begun. In a warm room on the floor she meditates in front of a framed photo of a guru who has been enlightened and found the way to happiness. Gilbert is confounded and aggravated by another American in the same inner place she is, devoid of peace and God. This man decides to become her mentor despite her disgust with him.
When the Texan reveals the personal heartache that brought him to the ashram, he advises her to forgive herself. She has an imaginary conversation with her ex-husband in which she tells him he will be okay. Then she whisks herself off to Bali to continue to find herself.
First of all, I think if Ms Gilbert tried to Pray, Love and then Eat, she may have avoided ruining her marriage and her husband’s self esteem and life.
Interestingly that night we watched the movie, the daily devotion by Max Lucado –Grace For the Moment Volume One; entitled “ Admission into Joy” read:
The first step to joy is a plea for help, and acknowledgment of moral destitution, and admission of inward paucity. Those whose taste God’s presence have declared spiritual bankruptcy and are aware of their spiritual crisis. Their cupboards are bare. Their pockets are empty. Their options are gone. They have long since stopped demanding justice: they are pleading for mercy….
They ask God to do for them what they can’t do without him. They have seen how holy God is and how sinful they are and have agreed with Jesus’ statement, “Salvation is impossible.”
Oh, the irony of God’s delight-born in the parched soil of destitution rather than the fertile ground of achievement.
It’s a different path, a path we’re not accustomed to taking. We don’t often declare our impotence. Admission of failure is not usually admission into joy. Complete confession is not commonly followed by total pardon. But then again, God has never been governed by what is common.” Adapted from The Applause of Heaven
I suppose it is a journey repeated so many times a day, in so many towns, villages and countries around the world. It’s quite disturbing the way folks absolve themselves for wrong doing, or go to an intermediary who thinks he can intervene on our behalf. There is only one who can do that for us, Jesus.
We think we can control ourselves, our partners, our lives. Instead of being grateful for the blessings we have, and allowing God to move in our lives, we try to chase Him down. Not realizing He is always with us, waiting for an invitation. He says to us “Be still, and know I am God”.
How do we do that? How do we be still?
By surrendering. By quenching the urge to figure everything out all the time. By being still, and being aware of the greater picture and our place inside of it. By allowing the Holy Spirit to find us, to capture us, to embrace us. Stop chasing ideals, and realize that you are worthy in God’s eyes right where you are. Accepting God’s grace and mercy, being open to His will.
And with prayer, and with love.
God knows where you are, he knows why you are where you are. He will never ever leave you, but first you have to believe in Him and his Son Jesus.
Shame that Eat Love Pray had such a huge following, translated into many languages. Ms. Gilbert shared that she was sworn off of marriage and her escapism allowed her a brand of new age freedom to lose herself so thoroughly that she bumped into herself again.
Oddly enough, she penned a new book called Commited-A Love Story, in which she falls in love again and is married and is now truly happy, immersed in a new relationship……uhm, I hope that guy read the first book.
Ps: It was recently pointed out to me that in Rolling Stone’s annual movie review “Eat Pray Love” was considered one of the worst, it seems the reviewer thought it should be entitled: “Eat, Pray, Puke”.