“What if you are one decision away from an entirely different life?” That was the question that would challenge us for the following week of our “If” Bible study based on the book by Mark Batterson. It was a question, simply asked by our fearless leader, that would change my life drastically. Directly after she spoke those words, last October, I heard His still, small voice whisper, “Colorado. What if Colorado is that decision?” What if our leader didn’t give us that weekly challenge? Or what if I’d have missed it because I was daydreaming, or chosen to ignore the quiet voice inside? What if?
This Valentine’s Day I treated myself, during my television and movie fast, to a night of wine and Letters to Juliet. It is one of my all-time favorite movies. One, because the main character is a writer. Two, because of the handsome, blue-eyed British gent. Three, it takes place in Italy, and slightly satisfies my wanderlust yearnings. Finally, and most importantly, the memorable and thought-provoking “What if” letter/speech.
Whenever I’m about to make a big decision or shy away from the path I feel called to, I think about this letter. I always hope to be the person that looks back glad of all the risks I took, even the ones that didn’t turn out as I hoped or planned. I never want to be the person at the end of my rope, that wishes I had taken more risks.
“Dear Claire, ‘What’ and ‘If’ are two words as non-threatening as words can be. But put them together side-by-side and they have the power to haunt you for the rest of your life: What if? What if? What if? I don’t know how your story ended but if what you felt then was true love, then it’s never too late. If it was true then, why wouldn’t it be true now? You need only the courage to follow your heart. I don’t know what a love like Juliet’s feels like – love to leave your loved ones for, love to cross oceans for but I’d like to believe that if I were ever to feel it, that I will have the courage to seize it. And, Claire, if you didn’t, I hope that one day you will. All my love, Juliet.”
–Letters To Juliet, dir. by Gary Winick (2010, Summit, dvd).
This past December, per recommendation of a trusted friend, I went to see Disney’s Moana. The morning when I was supposed to go, I decided that I simply wanted to stay under my thrice bulky covers and slumber instead. These days it’s much more agreeable to watch a movie from the comforts of home, where one doesn’t have to wear makeup or socially interact with anyone. That is what I had hoped for anyway… Just me, myself, my blankets and some uninterrupted “Sabbath” time.
But suddenly I heard that still, small whisper (again), that encouraged, “Go.”
I thought about ignoring it, but I complained and whined instead.
But God, I don’t have money. But God I want to stay here, in my bed. But God I don’t want to see people. My bed needs me.
“But Sarah, what I have planned is greater. Go.”
My friend highly recommended this movie as a “Must see right now!” Considering she knows me incredibly well, I knew it indeed had to be great! Nevertheless, as I viewed a couple different trailers, I didn’t feel motivated or interested. I was far more excited to see Fantastic Beasts. In my whining, I suggested that one to God, but He would not have it. So I finally decided to buck up, and follow God to the people infested theatre with seats that numbed my butt as I mindlessly drifted into another world. First, I took a hot shower, dressed nicely, and put on enough makeup to make me look presentable for the 10:50am showing. I drove twenty minutes to the theatre, went inside and purchased my ticket. For the first several minutes, I had the room to myself (Amen!) But then, by the time the five-six previews had passed by, I was joined by approximately ten others.
As I was prepping myself for the movie, I felt like God was urging me – “How you feel about this year, kind of dreading it… This movie is going to be an image for you, of how it all will turn out.” My mind immediately jumped to worst-case-scenario, What if this movie is terrible?!
Spoiler alert: It will all turn out wonderfully. The trailer surely didn’t give any credit to the vast greatness of the film, as it was phenomenal. Funny, creative, visually entertaining and deep. I laughed, I cried and as the film came to a close, I felt ready to change the world. I love movies that inspire me to chase my dreams and be a better person! So many of the lyrics spoke to me, and would continue to do so as I knew the soundtrack was suddenly a must-have. For a bonus, Grandma Tala reminded me of my beloved Gma, which made me shed “I miss you, but am thankful for all our happy memories” tears. (They’re a real thing, believe me.)
Just as the movie portrays, there will be obstacles. People will think I’m crazy, or perhaps going where I don’t belong. Storms will arise, and I will get knocked off my boat quite a few times. Though it may seem like I don’t know what I’m doing, there will be opportunities along the way to learn, make mistakes, and grow. All I need to do is keep listening to the voice inside that calls me. It will give me the courage to be me and to keep journeying on. No matter how large the storms are that arise, I will never be alone. If I listen to the truth inside and follow, I will be victorious in all that I set out to do.
Amazing what a twenty-eight year old can learn from a Disney movie.
What if you are one decision away from an entirely different life?
Are you listening? What crazy idea is the still, small voice whispering now? Are you ready to risk it all, and follow wherever it leads?
I sure am.