I’m stubborn. People kept telling me how amazing “The Greatest Showman” was but I didn’t think it looked all that interesting, so I just kind of nodded and went on my merry way. Then one night, my husband and I decided to not just rent the movie, but buy it. Because apparently that’s what we do. So we bought it, snuggled up in bed and pressed ‘play.’
My husband had actually wanted to see this movie but then the first scene began and so did the questions. “Is this a musical?” “Is this about the circus?” Oh my gosh, HOW could you have wanted to see this movie and not known the answer to either of those questions?! I started to get the feeling that we’d just wasted money on a movie we would never even finish watching.
But as things progressed, I found myself engrossed in the story, the songs, the heart of the movie. It was beautiful, fascinating, moving. I wanted to know how much of the story was true, what the lives of these people were really like.
Just as the movie was coming to a close, there was THE scene that secured the movie a place in my mind and heart for the foreseeable future.
I sat there stunned. I had been attempting to finish a book entitled “Present Over Perfect” by Shauna Niequest for literally two months. For whatever reason, I could not get into it. Earlier that day, as I lay sick in bed again, I decided instead of binge watching Netflix I would finish this book.
Suddenly, two seemingly very different worlds were colliding and they were both shouting the same message: COME HOME. Come home.
There are a lot of wonderful things I gleaned from this book, but one of the chapters that struck me was about a passage in Job where God is explaining how he commands the weather. Shauna says how these verses have been a source of freedom and grace for her. She heard God saying, essentially, “You do you.” I always thought this was a passage about God’s awesome power and our “grain of sand” like existence. She goes on to say:
The snow is only meant, created, commanded to fall. The rain is only meant, created, commanded to pour down. You were only meant, created, commanded to be who you are, weird and wonderful, imperfect and messy and lovely. What do you need to leave behind in order to recover that essential self that God created? What do you need to walk away from in order to reclaim those parts of you that God designed, unique to you and for his purposes? ― from “Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living”
I was made to be me. You were made to be you. So why have I spent so much time trying to be you and vice versa? God didn’t make me “me” and then say “Now be C.S. Lewis” (as much as I’d like to be!). Truly, there is freedom in knowing that.
And why is it that I want to be C.S. Lewis? For the acclaim? The financial rewards? The chance to travel? At the end of my days, will that be the thing that fills my soul? Or would those be the very things that cause me to sacrifice my soul? (Shauna has another great chapter on this.) I believe P.T. Barnum is having that very revelation in the above scene. Who and what has he done all of this for? To prove himself to his in-laws? To prove himself to society? To gain fame and fortune? Has it done those things? Is he happy? Fulfilled?
I drank champagne with kings and queens
The politicians praised my name
But those are someone else’s dreams
The pitfalls of the man I became
For years and years
I chased their cheers
The crazy speed of always needing more
But when I stop
And see you here
I remember who all this was for-“From Now On”
I remember who all this was for.
Who are you, at your truest, most authentic self? Are you living from that place? Is this the person you were created to be? Or have you followed someone else’s plans for you or allowed yourself to be influenced by what the world tells you you need in order to be great and successful?
While I very clearly feel like God intended me to hear this message I won’t pretend to know exactly what it means for me. I am taking time to think, pray, dream. Where have I wandered? What will it look like once I stop carrying or chasing those things God never designed for me? I don’t know. I truly don’t. All I know is that I want to come back home again.