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finding my voice in Adventureland

Recently Dave and I watched adventureland the latest flick from the Judd Apatow click directed by Greg Mottola who worked with Apatow on Superbad.


While I’ve seen most of Apatow’s movies- (I actually went into labor the night my husband and I saw Knocked Up in the theatre) this was much more of a dark comedy than we expected it to be.  Most of the Apatow crew movies are coming of age stories cloaked in raunchy earthy humor & I think one of the reasons they’re so popular are because of the sweetness that lies interspersed with the ahem, earthiness. In Adventureland, set in the 1980’s the main character Jesse Eisenburg plays James, a recent college graduate who due to his parent’s financial misfortunes isn’t able to go backpacking in Europe before beginning grad school at Columbia. Though he spiffs up his resume to apply for jobs (which he’s never had because of his parents wealth) he’s left with few options besides working at a crappy amusement park called Adventureland.

There is a lot I could say about this movie- I liked how it captured the despair and the feeling of being trapped between the weird stage in life of becoming independent yet still making poor choices. But the other thing that lingered in my mind as I watched Jesse Eisenburg awkwardly interact with the other Adventureland employees was; “wait- why does he seem so familiar?” and then it hit me- because this seems so much like the characters Michael Cera plays.

eisenburg left, cera right- these guys even look alike.
eisenburg left, cera right- these guys even look alike.

If you don’t know who Michael Cera is- watch this episode of Arrested Development on hulu & you’ll get hooked on his comic awkwardness. Seriously, stop reading my blog and watch it now. Back to Adventureland…it was a little annoying feeling like I was seeing a Michael Cera clone uncomfortably relate to the girl he liked- but then I felt bad for him, knowing that there were probably a lot more people, critics who probably thought and wrote the same thing. And there were.

This got me thinking about how difficult it is to find your own voice. I can’t even imagine how nervewracking it must be to be an actor who constantly sees other people putting their own spin on a character and thinking- “shoot- that’s a lot better than I can do” or “maybe I should try that tone of voice.” This past sunday one of the pastors at our church, Joy Bonnema preached a sermon on finding our identity. It made me think of the comparisons between these two actors who are just trying to find their own voice and share it with others on the big screen. From all I can tell, Jesse Eisenburg is just trying to do his thang as much as Michael Cera is- but it’s human nature to criticize and compare. And it’s in our nature to do the same without remembering that the person we’re criticizing, (even if it’s harsh critique of ourselves) is loved and created by God.

Joy shared about her struggle to remember the voice that’s most important to listen to in her life.  Despite all her accomplishments doubts and anxiety still nagged her and she would find herself either despairing over what she felt she hadn’t done right or focusing solely on plowing through the tasks that lay ahead of her. Listen to the sermon to hear her story because she does a lot better job telling it than I can recount it here.You can click here to listen to a podcast of it or just go to this website and click on the top sermon to listen to it.

I felt so encouraged throughout the service as Joy challenged us to be reminded both who we are and whose we are.  At the end of her sermon she invited all of us to come forward to grab a sharpie that had been laid out and write on our hands “in Christ” as a reminder that no matter what we have done or have left undone- it’s whose we are that matters most. No matter what I think of myself, no matter how I screw up or the amazing things I may do someday- whose I am is far more important than what I can produce, the insecurities that tell me I’m should just keep quiet and not let my voice be heard, or even the criticism people have of me (oh, and they do- because there will always be haters out there). When we are found in Christ his presence becomes like a force-field of love in our hearts allowing us to say “peace” when someone tries to stun us with criticism. To say “joy” when we feel like we are crumbling inside. To say “hope” when we see the pain in the world. And we can say these things not because we have love enough to make it happen- but because he loves us enough to make it true for us and the world.

And yes you did read that right- I said “force-field of love.” Is there anything wrong with a little sci-fi nerdiness thrown in with the Jesus love? I think not. That’s just what you’ll find on Sidewalk Theologian.

Discuss- is Jesus stronger than Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four?
Discuss- could Jesus create a stronger force field than Jessica Alba in Fantastic Four?

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