One of my favorite movies is The Greatest Showman. There are a few things I know are going to happen every time the movie comes on.
- I will sing. Loudly. And I don’t care who is in the room to hear.
- I will dance. Not the stand up and move around the room kind of dance. More like the wave your arms around, bob your head up and down and pump my fist aggressively into the air kind of dance.
- I will get teary-eyed. At least once. Probably twice. Maybe even three times.
- By the end of the movie, I will be reflecting on life, will feel incredibly grateful for all God has blessed me with, and will probably yell, “That was the best!” like I’ve never seen the movie, or yelled those words before – even though I shout them out almost every time the credits roll.
I saw this movie with my family at the theater when it first came out, and then again in a historic movie theater in a quaint little Tennessee town. By the second time we saw it, all six of us had nearly every song on the soundtrack memorized. It was constantly playing. In the car. In bedrooms while people were getting ready for school. While I chopped vegetables in the kitchen. So, we were well prepared when we walked into the theater and took our assigned seats. This wasn’t just any movie viewing; this was a sing-along. The words were subtitled on the bottom of the screen to help those who weren’t as familiar with the music as we were. We didn’t need them. We were prepared.
At the end of the movie, I stood up, wiped the tears from my eyes and yelled, “That was the best!” (You saw that one coming.)
Because this movie moves me. Not just in song and dance, but my soul.
There are so many facets of this story that are relatable. The story of rags to riches. A tale of young, forbidden love. The struggles of marriage and raising a young family. Temptations that threaten to take hold and tear us apart. Seeing the beauty in who you are, regardless of what others say about you. Discrimination. Privilege. The pursuit of worldly possessions above all else. Forgiveness. Rebuilding what was lost.
We see ourselves in this story. In different characters. At different times. This story reminds us of what’s important. Of how we want to treat people. Of what we will choose to pursue in life.
And that so often, in all of our chasing and pursuing and lusting for more – all we could ever want, or need, isn’t going to be found in what we have yet to attain, but instead, in what is lying right in front of us.
It can be so easy to get lost in the world of more. The world where success is so often defined by the accumulation of dollars in our bank accounts, the size of our home, the type of car we drive. the clothes we wear, the degree that hangs on our wall, the size of our office, how youthful we look and the title of our profession.
What do you do? Where do you live? Where did you go to college? Where do your kids go to school?
The world cries, “More!” And if we aren’t careful, our lives can pass before our eyes in an endless pursuit of objects that will never satisfy while our souls live in a constant state of restlessness and stress because no matter what we attain, or how high we climb, or how youthful we look, or how large the accounts swell – there is always more to accumulate, another ladder to climb, a younger person to compare our looks to, a better job title to be claimed.
And here is where this story gets me. Here is where the tears come. Because he chased and he sought and he fought and he climbed higher, and higher and higher – with the world at his fingertips, and in the end (spoiler alert), he realized in all of his pursuing, that no matter what he attained – it would never be enough.
All he ever needed was right in front of him all along.
This is what I am reminded when I watch this movie. I am reminded to take notice of what is before me and to not get lost in what the world tells me I should lose myself in, but instead to invest in the things that will truly breathe life into my soul. The things that will nurture those around me.
As the story unfolds and the songs are sung and the main character takes a journey from rags to riches, from a begger on the streets to fame, from someone who is never satisfied to someone who only wants what he has had all along, from someone who falls and then is forgiven – I am reminded that I long to live a life that isn’t in constant pursuit of more, but instead sees the beauty in all that is before my eyes. A life where joy can be found in the simple. In the things that can become mundane if we aren’t careful. A warm cup of coffee. The sound of my husband breathing next to me. My children’s hands in mine. Laughter. Friendship. Nature. Family. Love.
I am reminded of the prodigal son and that no matter how far we fall, or how long we wander, we can always return back home.
I am reminded it is okay to dream, but to not get lost in those dreams.
I am reminded that I don’t need to pretend to be someone else, or live up to someone else’s standards.
And that in the end, it isn’t about what we own, our title, the size of our home, or how well we dressed.