Stories Worth Consuming

I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone reading this that I am passionate about stories. I love telling them; I love hearing them. Since starting college, I have really begun to love reading and learning stories through books. I love journaling and self-reflection. I love conversations at my kitchen counter, I love art exhibits, and I especially love film.

I saw Alejandro G. Iñárritu‘s latest film The Revenant yesterday. It’s a love story at its core . . . but if you’re looking for a Nicholas Sparks story, I suggest staying far away from this film. It’s raw, gruesome, and painful to watch. The film is so crystal clear cinematographically; my friend said as we were walking out of the theatre “You can’t even see that clearly!” You can see every drop of melting snow on the branches of the trees, but you also see every drop of blood drip down Leonardo DiCaprio‘s body as his character makes an incredible, practically impossible, intense journey of survival that spanned over 200 miles.

As the credits went up after almost three hours of film, dozens of questions flooded my mind:

Is revenge instinctive?
What is re-birth and resurrection?
How much of nature can we control?
How are we as humans different than animals?
What is sacrifice, and why do we do it?

Besides the beautiful and difficult questions Iñárritu left me pondering, I also couldn’t help but wonder what was going on in the theatre next to us showing Dirty Grandpa, a film about a grandson and grandfather going on a crazy, sex-filled, spring break adventure. What an extreme contrast of stories being told right next to each other.

Now, I am not recommending The Revenant to everyone. It is a tough movie to watch, and there were points that I contemplated stepping out of the theatre (but I’m a Dutch girl and insisted on getting all $8 worth of the film that I paid to see.) But I am recommending everyone to watch stories that change them. Consume stories that are told with beauty and sincerity, that challenge values you hold to be true. Allow what you think to be broken open; bring things into question. Follow characters on journeys that develop them, and perhaps your own story will develop because of it.

If you want to live a good story, I think it’s important to consume good stories. Read good books, listen to good music, and watch good films. Find something that inspires you and let it change you. It doesn’t have to be Iñárritu‘s Birdman  or Chris Nolan‘s Interstellar (two of my personal favorites); check out what Pixar is doing and analyze what stories they are trying to tell. All I’m asking is please do not settle for mediocrity.

And for crying out loud, someone give Leo an Oscar already.



No Matter What You Feel

We’re all at different places right now, right here in this space today. Maybe you had an amazing year in 2015, and you’re sad to see it go. Maybe you’re anxious and stressed after seeing all of the things that you need to get done this semester. Maybe you’re hurting from things that a family member said to you over break. Maybe you had a life-changing experience with the Lord over break. Maybe you didn’t even open your Bible once over the past few weeks.

I don’t know what you’re feeling right now . . . and maybe you don’t feel like worshipping right now; it’s just not working for you.

But . . . it’s not about what you’re feeling, it’s about what’s true. And so let me tell you:

If you feel broken, there is restoration.
If you feel wronged, there is justice.
If you feel hurt, there is comfort.
If you feel overwhelmed, there is peace.
If you feel discouraged, there is hope.
If you abandoned, there is rescue.
If you feel empty, there is wholeness.
If you feel ashamed, there is grace.
If you feel alone, there is love.
If you feel lost, you are pursued.

Even if you don’t feel any of these things right now . . . God’s is still good and His promises are still true. You don’t need to put your hands in the air, you don’t need to sing louder than the people around you . . . . but just let these words wash over here. God is here. God is good. And that’s true no matter how you feel.

(A piece I wrote of praise & worship at Dordt College on 01.14.16)