Along with what seems like the rest of America these days, I'm in love with Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga in their powerful new version of A Star is Born (2018). Here's the proof: I saw the movie on a Friday night....and did.not.fall.asleep! (My husband usually refuses to take me to a movie on Fridays because I always fall asleep--I cannot help it--there is just something about a dark room and a comfy seat at the end of a busy week.). Even further proof: I went and watched the movie again on Saturday night, in a full theater, sitting in the front section where I had to crane my neck backwards to see the entire screen. And I marveled at the power of every minute of it.
But this blog isn't a movie review. If you want one, check these out:
This is why I decided to join the crowd of people writing and blogging and social media sharing about this movie: When I first watched the scene where Lady Gaga stands in a grocery store parking lot in the middle of the night and sings to a half-drunk Bradley Cooper, "I'm off the deep end, watch as I dive in...I'm far from the shallow now," my insides flipped over. At first I thought I was reacting to the obvious love connection that was forming between the two main characters (and--who am I kidding?--I certainly was a little bit). But, that love story isn't the one that keeps waking me up from dreams where that song is the background music. That human love story isn't the one that has me listening to "Shallow" on repeat and thinking about all the times I've been too scared to take that kind of risk. That love story--as powerful as it is--isn't the one I want to be a part of.
My insides knew before my brain did that the story line in the movie and that song is about more than falling in love. The scenes in the movie where Lady Gaga's character Ally lets go of her insecurities and steps up to take a risk, remind me of a different sort of love story...one that God keeps inviting me into again and again.
This movie, it turns out, for me, is simply a reminder that God always beckons me towards the hard and holy, always gives me courage to join Him in risky situations.
When Ally risks vulnerability by singing her own song to a total stranger, I see how God prompted me to be honest with a group of women in a Wednesday night Bible study about some of the things in my life that shame me. When Ally risks epic, embarrassing failure by singing that same song on the spur of the moment to a much larger crowd at a rock concert, I see God giving me the courage to start asking for opportunities to speak in places where women in my particular religious tribe haven't always spoken. When Ally risks a career and gives up the timing of her own dream to care for someone who needs her, I see God spurring people like my dear friend Dana to sign up for a medical mission to Mexico to minister to the Hondurans in a caravan on its way to an unwelcoming United States.
God has always called me, you, us to the deep end. He calls us to risking, and giving up ourselves. He calls us to leaving what's safe and easy and popular. And He does it for our own good. He knows that if we hang out in the shallow water, where we can see the bottom, where it's easy to get in and easy to get out, we can too easily let overconfidence and complacency turn into complaining and cantankering (yes, I just made cantankerous into a verb!).
Scripture is full of stories of God calling people to jump in to the deep end with both feet: Ruth, leaving her home and following her mother-in-law to a foreign land; David, vulnerable and small, taking up five stones against a giant; Peter stepping out, literally, into the deep end, because a gifted, hope-dispensing Rabbi asked him to. Jesus himself taking the long road and stopping off to speak to a Samaritan woman despite the social stigma and real potential for things to go wrong.
God knows we desperately need the deep end because it's the place we let go of our fear and grasp onto the rewards of risk and courage. It's also the place we are most likely to find Him. When we face fear, and opposition and difficulty, He is always there. When we take a deep breath, close our eyes, and leap out over the surface of dark water, He will always, always seem closer than ever before, because, well, because He is already there.