My Life in Ruins: Movie Review

My Life in Ruins

By Stacey Tuttle

“What do they do when they lose their whole life savings? They dance!” Georgia incredulously comments on a Greek movie. It seems to be the Greek response to life – things are going well, you dance! Things go horribly wrong, you still dance! Why is this? How is it possible to have this response to life? How is it possible to dance in the face of trails and struggles…when your life is in ruins?

“You’re looking for obstacles rather than looking for magic,” Georgia is told. Is that the key to dancing – looking for “magic” rather than obstacles? What if we were able to do that – to look for “magic” to come, even from the bad things, or even in the bad things? How would that transform our lives? Maybe it wouldn’t change our external circumstances, but it would certainly transform our internal response to those circumstances. While you may not be able to escape having your life in ruins on occasion, it would transform your perspective on those ruins if you were able to dance in them. You might enjoy life in the ruins much more than before. To find joy in the midst of sorrow, hope in the midst of pain…is there any greater “magic” than that?

Looking for magic – is that naïve optimism, or bold faith? Maybe it depends a little on where you believe that “magic” comes from. For the non-believer, the person who doesn’t believe in an all-powerful God, it might be naïve to believe things will magically work out. However, there is nonetheless a definite advantage to such an optimistic outlook. There is certainly something to be said for self-fulfilling prophesy – believing things will work out for good seems to have a magic all its own (the same could be said for believing they won’t). Not to mention that, as previously stated, hope / optimism simply makes life more bearable and even more enjoyable. It’s worth having this attitude of dancing in the face of anything life throws at you for the simple fact that it makes life more pleasant.

However, is it possible that for the believer this looking for magic can possibly be more significant than simple optimism? If Christ and consequently the Bible are true, then its countless promises about God’s power and goodness towards us are true as well. For the believer it’s not just “magic”, it’s more than magic – it’s a miracle; it’s God’s power. It’s the confidence that God can cause “all things to work to the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The believer’s optimism is based on more than the need to feel good about life. The believer has that faith that is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The believer isn’t blindly wishing things in his life will work out well, but is boldly confident that they will because he has been promised by the God of the universe that they will.

There is one point of clarification that is needed here. This doesn’t mean the believer is exempt from having a “life in ruins”. When it says that “all things…work to…good,” all includes all the good and bad things that happen. It’s not freedom from bad things happening, but confidence that the bad things are part of the story, not the end of the story. The end of the story is good. Confidence that our life story is a comedy in the making, not a tragedy. Confidence that we can trust the author, even if he allows tragic moments to enter the story.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of various kinds” (James 1:2). For the believer, dancing when you lose your life’s savings (or whatever the “ruin” of the moment is), is not only preferable, but commanded. When the non-believer, who has only a nebulous karma to wish upon, is able to dance in the face of his struggles, how much more ought we as believers who have the assurance of the things we have hoped for, the great and true promises of a loving, omnipotent God who has plans for our hope and our future (Jer. 29:11), who is working all things to the good of those who love him. How might our life and our witness be changed if we actually danced when our life was in ruins? Let us learn to dance.

Questions for Discussion:

  • What are the aspects of your life that you feel are in ruins right now?
  • How do you feel you respond when you face challenges? Are you one who dances?
    • If you don’t dance, if you struggle to be optimistic in the face of hard times, then why isthat? Is it that you don’t believe in a loving God? If you do believe in God, then which of his promises, or what aspect of his character do you doubt? (There must be something you doubt or you would find it easier to trust that you have cause for dancing!)
    • If you do dance, then why/how? What is it that gives you hope? Is it that you are naturally optimistic, or is in faith in God?
    • How do you feel your life might be different if you were able to have an attitude of dancing?
    • How do you feel your life might be different if those around you had an attitude of dancing?
    • Do you feel it would be easier to have an attitude of dancing if you could believe in a loving, all powerful God?