Friday, December 7, 2012

Something Winners Never Do: Real Life and Little Miss Sunshine

We've talked about the 2006 indie-comedy Little Miss Sunshine before, in the context of our struggle to be seen as a "winner" in the midst of all our losing. In our second "Sunshine installment," we'll talk about another level of losing. Check out this dinner table scene from early in the film:

Steve Carell's Frank describes a heart-rending descent into depression: every time Abigail Breslin's Olive (speaking for the audience) says, "...and that's when you decided to kill yourself?" he goes a step deeper. Doesn't this often seem to be the way of things? Our disappointments, struggles, and painful experiences often seem to pile on one another until they threaten to overwhelm us.

This truth of life seems to be incontrovertible. Everyone deals with stuff. The bigger question is: what do we take our failures to mean? Do we, as Greg Kinnear's Richard does, think that the onus is on us? That we've just "made a serious of poor choices" and have "given up" on ourselves (which, of course, we would never do if we were "winners")? That, unless we shape up, we are doomed to continue on this downward spiral of self-loathing? Many people do think this way.

But, as Carell says, how could you stand it? Wouldn't you rather hear a life-giving truth, that our relationship with God is not dependent on our making better choices? That though we give up on ourselves, God never gives up on us? That, not only doesn't he give up on us, he comes down to us, in Jesus Christ, when we fail, again and again, and prove ourselves to be anything but winners?

Steve Carell is bracingly honest in this scene. He doesn't try to paint life with a rose-colored brush. He is in pain, like most of us, and like most of the people in our lives. Thank God we have a better answer than Greg Kinnear does. Who will rescue us from this body of death? Praise be to God, we delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25).

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