One of my favourite movies is Before Sunrise, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. And I found its follow-on, Before Sunset, even better. I love the almost constant dialogue in the two films. I enjoy how ‘real’ the characters are – how they connect as people, and how they share their magical stories with us.
In the second movie, I find one of the things Hawke’s character Jesse says to be intriguing. He tells Delpy’s character Celine how he’d, in a way, decided in his mind what the best version of himself was, i.e. a good and loyal husband and father. So he’d married someone with whom he could be that person with. But years later, one child later… he was unsatisfied, and longing for the magic his relationship with Celine had once provided. He kept coming back in his mind to that amazing night they’d spent – before sunrise.
I found this idea intriguing – that is, of us living out what we consider to be the best version of ourselves (despite our hearts really remaining elsewhere). We think when we arrive at this so-called perfect life, everything will fall into place. But really, we find we end up pining for something, or someone else. Isn’t this human nature?
Perhaps the best version of yourself is someone with a great house that you feel proud to invite people to. That’s your idea of bliss, and you take all the necessary steps to make that happen. Or maybe it’s living as someone who has three university degrees under their belt, and counting. Or being a person who devotes their life to helping others…
And all these things sounds pretty good, don’t they? They are worthy things to aspire to. Nice identities to want to have.
But sometimes we can find ourselves in ‘the perfect life’ we dreamt of for so long, and worked so hard to create…. And something inside us sinks at the realisation it’s not what it’s cracked up to be. All the waiting, and the planning… all the hopes and dreams… don’t feel quite so exciting in their fulfilment.
We long for something more.
So we might start again by dreaming of another thing to fill the empty feeling or deep disappointment. Or worse, become totally despondent and give up hope on ever finding happiness.
Sometimes in my life my dreams (in my mind anyway) were not for things that would actually bless or enhance my life – but mere symbols of what I was actually looking for in God.
What I thought made total sense for me to want to have was giving away the fact that I deeply, achingly… longed for God. His affirmation. His purposes. His beauty. His love… I truly wanted a living, breathing, everyday relationship with Jesus that would fill my soul in ways no earthly thing – possession, person, career, aspiration… could ever do. I actually wanted Him. The epitome of perfection and the true fulfilment of all my dreams.
I think our motives behind our dreams, our cravings, our desires… which we all have – are so important to consider. Otherwise we can be trapped by them, and truly believe we have no hope. No way out. That we’ll never truly be satisfied with the life we are living – that the wants that plague us will continue to run from us, unfulfilled.
But perhaps it isn’t the longing itself that needs to change – but rather, the object of our longing?
Sometimes the life we’re currently in really does need to change, for many good and healthy reasons. But sometimes we need to take the journey of – somehow – finding peace with our current circumstances. Yes – ending up in a place where we actually choose them, own them, love them. Delight in them!
This process may not be easy, and there are no guarantees.
If we find God in all of this…
Maybe – just maybe?… the search is worth it?
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
(Matthew 6:33 NKJV)