Sunday, May 15, 2011
"I neither have silver or gold, but I do have something even better to give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, get up and walk!" Acts 3:6
Underneath the surface of the movie Bridesmaids, which positions itself as a gross-out comedy for women, there is actually more than the bathroom humor and sex jokes seen in the previews.
This film gives us a peek at the world through the eyes of Annie, a down-on-her-luck Midwestern young adult (Kristin Wiig) who is tapped to be the maid of honor at the wedding of her longtime best friend Lilian (Maya Rudolph), who might also be her only friend.
This invitation couldn't come at a better time for poor Annie. She has been stumbling through life - miserably working behind the counter of a jewelry store since her start-up business (a homemade cake shop) didn't survive the economic recession. She herself has little money to pay the rent on an apartment she shares with a roommate who makes excuses not to pay her half of the bill. The only "romance" in her life comes from a man (Jon Hamm) who uses her for sex - and she drives a run-down car with a missing tail light.
Unfortunately, being a bridesmaid only compounds the problems. At the engagement party, Annie runs into Lilian's new best friend Helen Harris (Rose Byrne), a rich mother who seems to have it all, reminding Annie of how little she has and how unlucky she has been.
Throughout the wedding preparations and in a variety of ways, Annie and Helen continue to spar for the affections of the bride - and in the end, Annie comes out even worse than before. In short order, Lilian makes a stunning change by replacing Annie with Helen for her maid of honor (and soon after, dis-invites her childhood friend from the wedding altogether).
When it can't get any worse, Annie gets fired from her job, kicked out of her apartment, and ends up in a traffic accident thanks to that burnt out tail light. She has truly hit rock bottom.
So underneath all the comedy lies a very real situation. How many of us have been where Annie now sits, alone on the couch, under the covers, and on the precipice of depression and despair? How many of us have hit that "rock bottom" place in our lives when nothing seems to go right and everyone seems out to get us?
Even in Scripture, we have plenty of examples of those who hit rock bottom. Consider Job after his family died, his property was stolen, and his body was plagued with disease. Consider Jeremiah at the bottom of the cistern, thrown in by his own friends. Consider Jonah in the belly of the fish or the Psalmist who declares, "Out the depths, I cry to you, O Lord!" (Ps. 130:1).
So what do we do when we find that low place? What did those biblical heroes do to change their lot in life? What did Annie do when that moment came crashing down upon her?
In the movie, a new friend slapped some sense into our girl. Megan (Melissa McCarthy, who steals every scene and serves as both the comedic and moral compass of the film) visits Annie in her depression and tells her to make an intentional move towards reconciliation. Wallowing in self pity won't do her any good, Megan says. Instead, she needs to look at the good within her and the good that can be done for others.
Annie needed to look at her own sins and shortcomings before she could start to improve things with Lilian. She needed to reconcile with Nathan (Chris O'Dowd), a budding relationship she sabotaged out of frustration. She needed to fix that broken tail light and get back into baking, her true passion. But most importantly, she needed to mend the fractures in her relationship with the bride and even the new maid of honor.
Jesus once said, "If you come to the altar and realize that someone has something against you, leave your gift there and immediately go be be reconciled with that person." (Mt. 5:24)
It's not easy to do, but sometimes we need to shoved. Megan did that for Annie, proving her worth as a true friend. In the Scriptures, Peter does that for a crippled beggar saying, "I have neither silver or gold, but I have something even better to give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, get up and walk!" (Acts 3:6).
When we're at our lowest, it might seem like money or easy solutions will erase the problems we face - but what we really need is a shove and someone to tell us "Get up and walk!" At our lowest, we feel paralyzed and frightened, insecure and uncertain of the future. That is the time our ears need to be attuned the most to the kind words of friends and the comforting passages of the Scriptures. "Get up and walk!" Depending on the circumstances, we might need to do some interior soul-searching like Annie did in this movie - or we might need to swallow our fear or our pride and confront whatever or whoever is up against us.
In a way, Bridesmaids is a sad movie about a sad person, abused and neglected, financially poor and relationally challenged (and as the film shows, sometimes weddings, a event of great joy and hope, can further amplify the depression of others). But thankfully, the hope that Megan shoves Annie towards doesn't lie too far under the surface of the comedy here.
"Get up and walk!" No matter how low we get, let us attune our ears to the voice of God, the voice of the prophets, and the voice of our friends to hear those hopeful words of grace.