Expectations vs. reality

“This is a story of boy meets girl.  But you should know up front…
This is not a love story.”

That’s how my favorite movie begins.  For those of you who don’t already know, it’s called (500) Days of Summer, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

600full-500-days-of-summer-posterIt’s been my favorite movie for about 2-3 years now, and it’s one of those that you either love or hate.  I happen to love it because it’s what I like to call a “SO TRUE” movie.  You know, the ones you can identify with on many levels.  The ones that are just SO TRUE to you.

That’s what I think real beauty is: truth.  I know I love a book when I underline sentence after sentence and write down thoughts, smiley faces, or the word “YES!” out to the side.  I know I love a song when I belt the lyrics at the top of my lungs in the car or even start crying because the words touch me so much.

And I know I love a movie when I say, “That’s SO TRUE!” over and over and over.  …Like I do in (500) Days of Summer.

My favorite scene is one of the most depressing ones, but I love it because it’s real.  Everyone who watches this scene can relate to it, and that’s what makes it great.  John Steinbeck says in East of Eden, “No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us.”  A story is great when it’s everyone’s story…even if it’s a sad one.

So I’ve posted my favorite scene below, and I think you should watch it.  But read these disclaimers first:
DISCLAIMER 1: Even though this scene is depressing, it’s not the end of the movie.  Trust me, this film is great.  And there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
DISCLAIMER 2: This clip contains a spoiler.  If you have not already seen (500) Days of Summer and plan to at some point in your life (which you should), stop the clip at 2:00, or right after he says, “When you can make something that lasts forever, like a greeting card,” if you want to be safe.  I know you’ll be tempted to watch farther, but don’t do it!!!  You’ve already seen enough of the scene to grasp the point it’s making, I promise.

Here we go.  (Also, take note of the awesome Regina song in this scene.  The whole soundtrack is great).

Depressing, right?  But it’s also ingenius.  A lot of people legitimately hate this scene, but I think it’s because they feel how true it is, and it makes them sad. Nothing can move you unless you connect with it in some way.

And don’t we all think like Tom?  Don’t we all have these lofty, perfect expectations going into a situation and then leave dejected when the reality doesn’t live up?  It’s life.  We’ll almost always be disappointed by the comparison of our imaginations stacked-up next to reality because we think we know what’s best for us when it’s rare that we actually do.

But I take comfort in the fact that Someone knows, even if I don’t.  His expectations and reality are the same.  Because expectations are hope, and hope is God, and God is reality.  In Mere Christianity (which I just read for the first time and LOVED), C.S. Lewis says, “Reality, in fact, is usually something you could not have guessed.”  He later says, “We have to take reality as it comes to us: there is no good jabbering about what it ought to be like or what we should have expected it to be like.”

If you expect it—if you can imagine it—it probably won’t be reality.  Because God will always do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.  He doesn’t write stories with predictable endings.

But just because our earthly expectations and realities don’t align doesn’t mean we should give up expecting things altogether.  That’s where hope comes into play.  Hope is the spiritual version of earthly expectation.  When it comes to Jesus’ plan for our lives, we should always expect more than the reality we see and put our hope in things unseen—in the imagination, the beauty, and the truth that He offers.  For we have assurance that those expectations will someday be our reality.

*For those of you feeling depressed from that last clip and need a pick-me-up, here is my second favorite scene from (500) Days of Summer.  …You’ll see it’s much different than the first.  Sorry for the Spanish subtitles.

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