I have an uncanny ability when watching a movie to be diverted momentarily from the plot by getting caught up in the background of the movie, like the color of the walls, the furnishings, room layout, texture, etc. If there is an abundance of color involved, my senses go wild trying to take it all in, and snapshots remain in my mind for some obscure later reference. It is one of the reasons I love to visit an art gallery (alone) since I can stand and study a painting with no regard for how long I have been there. My son on the other hand has the ability to memorize the musical score in a movie and hear it in his head long after the movie has ended. If the scene of a movie comes up in a conversation later, he can tell you what music was playing during that scene, hearing it in his head as if it were fresh while the entire scene plays out in his mind. It is one of the reasons he loves to listen to orchestras. What might be a distraction to others, is a completely enriching background to the main focus for us.
I also am often caught by the element of surprise and walk away from a movie with a quote that jumped out at me, pervading my mind for several days after the movie. Such was the case this past week after a trip to the theater. Of course, I know there are many readers who do the same, so I am not going to mention the movie from which the following quote is drawn from. If you recognize it, let me know.
“I’ve spent far too long wanting what was taken from me instead of what was given.”
Usually when quotes impact me, it is because there is some relevance to my own life. On more than one occasion, it has actually resulted in an “Ah-Ha” moment. This particular quote has embedded itself in my mind over the past few days, especially in light of my Luke 2:52 project. The concept of getting “unstuck” and moving forward in life with a more hopeful and thankful attitude is made more difficult when we focus on the things which were taken from us instead of what has been given. This has been so true in my journey over these past few months as I have realized how much time has been spent unchecked, yearning for what was taken and what will never be due to the choices of other people and the mistakes I have made on my own.
Each one of us has felt the effects of loss, pain and suffering, both just and unjust, and so much of it falls afresh during this time of year with the Christmas season and the New Year around the corner. No human being is exempt from this, and each one of us comes to realize that life is simply not fair.
- People lose jobs
- Fortunes come and go
- Not every spouse is faithful.
- Parents sometimes must bury a child.
- Not every child is loved.
The list could go on and on, and often it does in our own minds. How much of our life has been spent wanting what was taken from us, without our consent, and if it was as a young child growing up, sadly, without the knowledge or ability to fight back. Life in general can be very difficult, cruel and unfair. Yet, if it were not for difficult and even painful times, we might not grow and become a more complete human being. Of course I am not saying I would not change anything given the chance, but the fact of the matter is that I cannot, and choosing to uncover the gifts in the midst is a much more pleasant way to move forward. There is great reward in and through the struggle, and if we are not intentional in the midst of surviving, the rewards or gifts can be shadowed by the pain.
So what do I take from this quote, especially during this holiday season, when so much of the world around us is uncertain? There will always be circumstances I wish I could change, losses to grieve, missed opportunities to regret, and people who have caused hurt and whom I have hurt. However, each day is new and fresh, with circumstances I can choose to live above, losses I can be free of to make room for new celebrations, missed opportunities I can learn from to create new ones and people I can forgive, be forgiven by and love once again.
Life is full of gifts, both seen and unseen, and sometimes we just have to focus on the background in order to bring the whole thing into focus! In the middle of all the hustle and bustle of shopping, wrapping, baking, eating, traveling, writing, decorating and party planning, I am choosing to focus on the background of Christmas; the wonderful gift of Christ’s birth and the reason for my hope and promise. This Christmas, I am focusing on what I have been given! How about you?