One of the amazing benefits of living with my sister-in-law and her family for the summer is that I have an “insta-babysitter.” Of course I also become her “insta-babysitter”, but that’s okay, I’ve got to build some good karma. With this benefit, Brandon and I have been able to enjoy a weekly date night, and a few weeks ago, we decided to go to the movies. We left Job with Auntie Amber and took off. Since we weren’t paying a babysitter, we decided to squeeze in a few more activities, and we visited the raquetball courts first. As usual, Brandon creamed me, but apparently I’m a glutton for punishment because I always go back for more. After racquetball, we had some time to kill before our movie started, and I managed to drag Brandon off to the mall where we (ahem…I) had a lovely time shopping. Then it was time to sit back and relax to Owen Wilson and Rachel McAdams in Midnight in Paris.
Though the movie didn’t have a particularly strong plot, it was a very interesting movie with lots of dialogue and a colorful story. The plot involves Gil (Wilson) and his fiancee Inez (McAdams) while on a trip to Paris. Gil is enamored with the city and believes that the 1920’s in Paris was the perfect time in history. His fiancee, Inez, who is mean, critical and controlling thinks the opposite and can’t wait to escape to someplace else. As the movie progresses, the relationship becomes increasingly unhappy, and one night, Gil is wandering the streets to find some peace of mind, and he is magically transported back to the 1920’s in Paris. He discovers that each night at midnight, on a particular street corner, he finds himself in what he believes to be the golden age.
I find it interesting that when Gil is struggling with his personal issues, he is comforted by stepping back in time, to the time that he believes was the perfect time in history, when people were happy and life was going right. In the past, he finds himself surrounded by like minded people, he finds the parties invigorating, and he finds a woman who seems to be the girl of his dreams. For Gil, the 1920’s seem to fit him like a glove, and his present life becomes more and more bleak.
As I watched the movie, I found that I could identify with Gil and his belief that the past is better. I know that I often look to the past as a better time. When I was younger, I used to think that being a pioneer was the best time in history. I didn’t factor in the fact that they slept on the ground, were subject to Indians and buffalo stampedes, and that all of their belongings had to fit into a space smaller than some people’s closets, I only considered the romance of being able to explore wild and untamed lands and that their dresses were pretty. As I grew up, the pioneers seemed less like the ideal time, and when I entered college, my younger years seemed like the ideal time in my history. When I was 8, I considered, I was able to finish my schoolwork by noon and play the rest of the day. My greatest worry was my pesky little brother, and instead of college bills, I could look forward to Mondays when I received 2 dollar bills as an allowance.
And so it goes, after college, my ideal time became during college, when I got married, my ideal time was when I was on my missions trips, when we moved to Oregon my ideal time became when we lived in Tennessee. I find with the progression of time that sometime in the past always seems to be more ideal than the present.
As the movie progresses, Gil is finding himself more and more enamored with the magical world of the 1920’s. One night he is taking a stroll with the lady of his dreams when suddenly the two of them are magically transported back to the lady’s ideal time in history, the 1890’s. The 1890’s, she believes, was the golden age, and she is surprised that Gil believes the 1920’s to be so perfect. Her present is boring, difficult, and ill fitting for her. As the two explore the world of the 1890’s, they find themselves talking to two artists who confess to Gil and his lady friend that they believe the Renaissance to be the perfect time, the people of the 1890’s, they claim, are dull and without imagination.
At this point, a light bulb goes off in Gil’s head. It seems that in each period in history, the people of that time believed the past to be better. He realizes that he has to live in the present and live his fullest potential in the time period he is in, not just pine away for the past. Its always an inspiring moment for me when Hollywood strikes upon a truth, when it illustrates a moral that can be safely applied to life (unlike a moral such as “affairs are okay when you are in an unhappy marriage”, that is not a very safe moral to apply). As the movie ended and the lights came up, I left the theater with a happy smile. Perhaps it shows my shallowness that Owen Wilson can inspire me to embrace my present life, but I can’t pretend to be smarter than I am, and that’s what happened. I’m wondering if I should start following Wilson around as my motivational therapist.
Anyway, the ending of the movie reminded me of a verse in Esther, which has long been a solid rock for me, a verse that I can look to when the waters around me are rising. Esther is in a tricky situation, the king has carelessly threatened the lives of the Jews in his kingdom, and unknowingly, threatened her life as well. Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, appeals to Esther to go before the king, explain the situation, and request him to reverse his decree. Of course it all sounds simple to our modern ears, Esther, as the king’s wife, talks to him over his morning coffee and points out that taking her life probably shouldn’t be high on his priority list. But times were different then, no one came before the king without the king’s command, and apparently, Esther hasn’t been called before the king for a month. To approach the king without his permission, even if she is his wife, could result in death. The situation is not simple, it’s life or death, and Esther is the Jews only chance, an entire people are depending on her bravery.
Understandably, Esther is feeling a little nervous about approaching the king. In a desperate effort to persuade Esther, Mordecai says “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) Could it be possible, Mordecai asks Esther, that God created you and placed you as queen for this very purpose, to save the Jews? That’s the clincher for Esther, if God has given her this purpose, she can’t back down, she must live out her full potential. She approaches the king, and miraculously, finds favor before the king and the Jews are saved.
This passage has long inspired me when it seems that the future is uncertain, or when my present seemed pointless. Perhaps God put me in this particular time for a particular purpose. I don’t know what that purpose is yet exactly. My husband is great, but he’s no king, and there isn’t a decree to destroy my people. Maybe I’ll be called to something amazing someday, or maybe my purpose is to raise a godly generation and one of my children will be called to an incredible task. Someone had to give birth to Esther. Who knows whether I have come to America in 2011 for such a time as this? But I believe that God doesn’t do anything wasteful and thus, I have come to this time for a purpose. And so I must bring my fullest self to the present so that I can live out my greatest potential. For such a time as this.