Christmas can be a difficult time of year, there’s no doubt about it. Compare your own life to any Christmas movie—ever—and you are going to get that niggle like something is missing. It might seem like everyone around us is having a warmer, more inclusive, more traditionally enjoyable Christmas than we are. And even if we are surrounded by our family or loved ones, often they’re the very people who somehow bring out the worst in us, or unwittingly cause us the most pain.
Fear Of Missing Out.
I think it basically boils down to one thing: Comparison. Looking around at other people and feeling like what I have, or what I did, or what I am doing, isn’t as good. Or as fun/exciting/inclusive/insert appropriate adjective here.
I have to acknowledge that comparing myself (or what I have, or did) to others has never, on any level, brought good into my life. It is not only pointless and unhealthy, but it actually hurts me. It negatively affects my happiness and more importantly, my inner life with God.
But we all do it, right? Well. I do.
Because Facebook, or, because Netflix, or a million other ways—a call with a friend, a conversation about plans. But I don't like feeling this way. I don't like feeling all needy and inadequate. So I started looking for the antidote. Turns out:
The antidote to FOMO?
Bam. Because you can't be feeling like you're missing out when you're looking at what you already have. And everything good that I have, I have been given, lovingly, by someone who adores me.
And here are some movies that help me remember that.
1. Lars and the Real Girl
This movie is delightful. Put simply, Lars (played by Ryan Gosling) has a whole community of people around him who care for him deeply, but he can’t see it. Lonely and hurting, he buys himself a ‘girlfriend’ on the internet, and jumps headfirst into the delusion that she is real. And what does his community do when he starts acting all delusional? Do they shun him? No, they take his girlfriend under their wing and treat her like she’s everyone’s new best friend. And the process is so healing for Lars that he is able to let her go.
This film reminds me that often, we have a whole network of people around us, who care deeply for us, and we don’t see it. Like Lars, we keep looking for that special something to fill the void, but actually there is already love everywhere, if we just have the eyes to see it.
2. Napoleon Dynamite
Napoleon Dynamite is a film which, like many films, culminates with a dance scene. But this dance scene isn’t quite like other films—this dance scene is essentially the awkward and socially difficult Napoleon saving his new friend Pedro from humiliation as he runs for class president. This dance scene, at its core, is Napoleon showing up when it matters, demonstrating loyalty even when it hurts, and putting his friend before himself. The scene is so unexpected, and so good, that nerdy, unpopular Napoleon receives a standing ovation from the whole school.
It’s a scene that teaches us to look beneath the skin. It reminds me that there are people in my life that don’t quite fit the mould--people who are maybe looked down on by others. But that there is value and richness in those people's hearts if I choose to see it. That these difficult, sometimes almost invisible people in my life might be capable of immense faithfulness and goodness, and I can choose to appreciate them even if they don’t wear the right clothes or say the right thing all the time.
3. Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine is a warm comedy about a dysfunctional family—and it too, culminates in a dance scene. It’s a film that grossed about $100 million on an $8 million budget and you know why? Because we can all relate. Because everyone has a dysfunctional family—everyone. You think it’s only your family where things are a little screwy behind the scenes and there’s some ugly history? You think you’re the only one who feels like they don’t fit in?
Nope. What you’ve got, is a family. Just a regular, messy, messed-up family like everyone else. Like me! This film reminds me that it is possible to step back and enjoy the mess, sometimes. And even, maybe, be grateful for it.
4. The Blindside
The Blindside is based on a true story about Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy, and their adoption of impoverished teen Michael Oher. Before he is adopted by the Tuohys, Michael is homeless, attending a wealthy Christian school but eating discarded food discarded after sporting events and huddling outside the school gym at night. The turning point in the film happens when Leigh Anne sees ‘Big Mike’ walking by himself in the freezing cold, without adequate clothing, and stops to ask him if he would like to spend the night on their couch. Sean has already noticed Big Mike, picking up leftover food, and the two bring him into their home.
This film reminds me that there are people who see me. I may not realise it, I may disbelieve it, but I am not as invisible as I think I am. There is someone, maybe someone I don’t even know that well, who is thinking about me and looking out for me. And, it is also possible for me to be that person—the one who ‘sees’ others. Nothing reminds you how good life can be quite as nicely as letting someone know you care.
5. New Life
New Life is a film that’s hitting cinemas on December 6, and it is, at it’s core, a film about moving past loss. Christmas can be a time when we remember or re-experience loss, when we miss our loved ones who have left us. Maybe we look around and we don’t see other people experiencing sadness like this, like us.
But this film reminds me that what I do have is the richness and the gift of having known the person for as long as I did. And what I do have is the possibility of moving past grief and into hope. There is always one more step I can take, one more ounce of healing to be discovered, one more joy-filled moment to look forward to. And that is something I can be grateful for.
Check out newlifemovie.com.au to find a cinema near you.