Saturday, January 22, 2011

I wasn't always this way.

Ever seen "What's Eating Gilbert Grape?" Besides the fact that I think Leonardo di Caprio brilliantly portrayed a boy with a cognitive disability (Arnie Grape), there is a scene in the movie that both breaks and warms my heart.

Gilbert Grape's mother Bonnie is morbidly obese. She spends most of her time in her bed because she can barely walk. Gilbert's girlfriend Becky, played by Juliet Lewis, comes to visit and wants to meet Bonnie. The mother is lying pitifully in the bed and Becky sits down next to her. The mom says sadly, almost apologetically, "I wasn't always this way."

Becky's reply: "I wasn't always this way, either."

Let that sink in for a minute. I think it's so powerful.

How did you get this way? What are the experiences that have really shaped you? Mine are, in order of appearance, family, salvation, divorce, my forever husband Randy, infertility and now cancer. Half of those things are not fun things at all. But those are the things that have really shaped me.

I'd like to say I wouldn't want to trade any of them, but currently I'd like to trade in my dad's cancer for something nice. Maybe looking back someday I'll feel differently, and maybe I won't. We'll see. I do know that I can't take any of them back, and I wouldn't be "this way" had I not experienced those things, good and bad. I like being this way.

Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I love this verse. It's one of my favorites. Notice it doesn't say that only good things will happen. It just means that no experience is wasted.

I want to know, what are the top three life experiences that have made you who you are?


Kimberly said...

good post!

I have yet to see that movie. I never new what it was about, I do now, though.

sometimes I wonder how different I am compared to college or high school or 10 yrs ago. Sometimes I don't feel much different, but I'm sure I must be.

Jess said...

I never saw that movie, either.

Top three life experiences that have shaped me....infertility/adoption (for me they are so closely intertwined into who our family is that I can't really separate them) and how they turned me from a 20 year old child to an assertive and confident adult, being a bastard who fell in love with my fiancee's best friend (fiancee who ended up husband) and the repercussions of what followed....and learning to forgive myself and others in the preceding years, and the process of becoming more involved in an adult way in our church through UMW and other ministries.

I think a lot of those are not single events so much as a lot of small events that led to growth and shaping. It's hard really to think of any ONE thing that completely turns life another direction (for me at least).

I don't necessarily believe that "things happen for a reason," at least not in the traditional and maybe more comforting sense. I believe that all things can be used for some sort of good if you'll let God help you do it. I believe that there's always a way to grow and learn from something. But I also think that for most of us, there's a lot of ways we can get to be the person God intends...a lot of things that can nudge us into doing what He desires for us.

Amy T. S. said...

I think you make some good points, Jess, thanks.

Esther said...

LOVE that movie. Stellar performance by Leo, for sure.

I'm not sure what my top 3 experiences would be... Infertility would definitely be on that list, and it's still shaping me.

WV: fooffea :D

miriam said...

I love that movie. Haven't seen it in years, but it is a very good movie and yes, DiCaprio does an excellent job acting.

I am not going to write you as long as I could, but you are right. I am the way I am a lot because of what I have lived and what I have learned from specific experiences. Being bi-cultural/bi-lingual, living in a 'different' country- that was home to me and now it seems so far away, being a minority religion-wise, marrying young, child loss, and now parenthood and family. But there is also more, much more, that seems insignificant but is not, ordinary but extraordinary at the same time.