A year ago, if you would have asked me if I was happy, I would say I was beyond ecstatic. Everything in my life was going the way I wanted it to, it [seemed] perfect. I had never been that happy before.
If I’m going to be honest with you, dear reader, it was because I was in a relationship with someone I believed to be my life partner. Were we married? No, far from it, actually. When you know you are supposed to be with someone for the rest of your life, you just know. Or at least, I thought I did. In all honesty, I felt lonely a lot. But if someone were to ask me if I am happy now, my answer would be: Yes. Absolutely nothing is going how I want it to, and nothing is perfect by my standards at all.
Because I am not in a relationship… with a human being. I am in a relationship with my Creator, my Rock, Christ, my Redeemer. YHWH. God, the Mighty and Powerful Healer. I never feel lonely because I am never alone; I am actively seeking Him. So since Valentine’s Day is upon us, I decided to write a post about the importance of relationships. Godly relationships. Human relationships. Artificial relationships.
When I tell people that “Her” has become one of my favorite movies, I have been laughed at and mocked, not to mention a few people have questioned my sanity because the movie can be summed up in just a few words: “Man falls in love with his phone.” Yes, this plot sounds like a surreal, far-fetched idea that only a crazy person would do. Why would anyone in their right mind fall in love with their phone, something that can’t love them back? Much less, why would anyone find enjoyment out of a movie based on as such?
**Disclaimer: For those who have not watched this movie, “Her” is a rated R. Normally, I do not watch rated R movies because of vulgar language and sexual content. It makes me cringe. But, there are a few exceptions. If you can get past some of the questionable scenes in this movie and can ignore the colorful language throughout, I only hope you can enjoy this movie as much as I do. If you watch this movie, you have to have an open mind to the bigger picture, like I did. Maybe after some explanation, you can get past that this movie is about a guy who “falls in love” with his phone.
Most of us place our identities in real-live people, but yet we long for more. As humans, no matter what, we are never truly satisfied. While “Her” is not a movie about placing our identities in God, it implicitly examines how our lives are when we are constantly yearning for things through people, as well as artificial objects, and yet, find that we are still searching [because we are not placing our identities in God]. I love “Her” because of its vivid color schemes, odd perspectives of Los Angeles and the rawness of Amy Adams. Most importantly, depicts various emotions we feel as human beings i.e. happiness, joy, anger, jealousy, sexual desire, inquisitiveness, confusion and doubt.
The tone of this particular movie, though, is loneliness.
What comes to mind when you hear the word loneliness? Webster’s Dictionary explains it as “the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation.” Urban Dictionary describes it as “not the same as being alone; unwanted solitude does not require being alone, even in crowds; absence of identity, understanding compassion; empty; can’t focus on anything but emptiness.”
So what if we added one word to the quote stated above? “[Divorced] man falls in love with his phone.” Does this make it sound any better? Probably not, but it does make it sound more reasonable. As a result of divorce, the protagonist, Theodore Twombly, (Joaquin Phoenix) seeks his identity and a sense of belonging, with his new operating system but is never fully satisfied. This isn’t just any operating system though, it is an artificial intelligent operating system. For example, as conversation progresses, the operating system becomes one with it’s holder. It develops a (surreal) relationship with Theodore. It grows with him. And he doesn’t even know it. What makes this movie relatable is that Theodore does not go out and seek a relationship with his phone. It just happens. It progresses. He gets emotionally attached. But why? Is it because he is going through a divorce? Maybe. But I think there is so much beyond that.
In one scene, we see Theodore and his soon-to-be-ex-wife, Catherine (Rooney Mara) sitting down and filing their divorce papers. You can tell there is still something between the two because you see Catherine hesitate when signing the papers and makes a comment about how they don’t “have to rush to get it over with.” Theodore’s facial expression explains everything they are both feeling in those few moments. You can tell they still care very deeply for each other. But along the way, they lost “it”, whatever it was that brought them together in the first place. Later, we see them get in a fight when Theodore explains that he has been “seeing” his operating system and his ex-wife throws a fit about how unrealistic he was being. Then we see exactly what drifted them apart:
1.) Theodore couldn’t express himself. He feared the unknown. Theodore’s inability to connect with his wife. He feared intimacy, getting close with her and letting down his walls. He could not communicate how he felt. But he wanted to. And when he tried, he got shot down.
2.) Catherine was the opposite. Catherine was perceived to be too cynical because she never could comprehend completely what Theodore was feeling and always shut him out. Often times, she felt depressed, dealing with anxiety and placing herself in her education and always having to prove her worth through her work. She communicated how she felt, but often led to miscommunication between her and Theodore, causing a destructive relationship, ending in divorce. Towards the end of 2014, I saw this as a common pattern that I knew all too well.
When I first heard of “Her” back in 2013, I instantly was intrigued with the YouTube trailer when Theodore tells his operating system, Samantha, (Scarlett Johansson), “I love the way you look at the world.” I’m all for people with inquisitive minds, people who look at things with a different perspective. So I wanted to see what this movie was all about. When it came out in theaters, my (now ex) boyfriend took me to go see it when everybody else was against watching it. Finally, someone who gets it. I could share my love for this movie (even though I hadn’t seen it) it with someone who felt the same. But I noticed something while clinging onto my ex’s arm in the theater during the whole movie:
I was heartbroken.
Tears had been streaming down my face during all of those 126 minutes. As much as the movie has an upsetting tone, it is not supposed to be a real tear-jerker. Something was wrong. After the ride back to his house, I realized two things:
1.) What had caused my heartbreak during this movie
2.) The mere fact that my ex didn’t enjoy the movie (or understand why I loved it so much) like I had originally thought
The reason why this movie made me an emotional wreck is because it made me feel all the emotions at once. I immediately empathized with Theodore. I felt like we were the exact same person. I wanted to connect with people, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how. I felt like I was unable to connect in fear of having intimate conversations, personal thoughts about struggles I was dealing with, alongside my passions and dreams be out in the open, possibly being rejected. I even remember a specific conversation I had with my dad about not wanting to get involved with the relationship because I knew it would “end at some point, so why even try? I don’t want to get hurt so I’m not going to allow myself to get hurt.” The problem I had faced was too busy preparing my heart to not get broken that I had not prepared my heart for when it did eventually happen. I had realized my problem. Even though I had trouble expressing my feelings, I definitely felt them. I had so many thoughts that I never knew how to verbalize them, but I definitely thought them. I needed someone who could help me plan and map out things I wanted to do in my life. I wanted to travel and see the world. I knew what I wanted to be a part of and what I had no desire being a part of. I did not communicate well. In fact, I saw “Her” play out my life. And that year, it most certainly did.
Well, not entirely.
Maybe falling in love with an object is a little far-fetched. I have not and never will be in love with an inanimate object…but I had placed my identity in the wrong person. The more I tried to find myself through this person, the more I lost myself. The more strain it had on the relationship.. And that is where the show “Catfish” reminds me of Her. Catfish is sadly, something more people can relate to.
What happens with your operating system when there is actually a real person on the other side?
I despise Catfish, but after watching a couple different episodes, I felt sad for those who long for relationships online. People try so hard to be something they aren’t that they end up losing who they were in the process. Now, I am not saying online dating is never accurate. In fact, some of the happiest married couples found each other online. I do not judge their relationships. God has a different plan for everyone. What I am saying is that from what I have seen on the show, and even in personal experiences, people are almost always not who they claim to be online. Why do we always try to appear to be perfect for others to see? Because lost people pour their hearts out to anyone who is willing to listen. To share their thoughts and dreams with. This is the reason why people fall in “love” with people they meet online because it is easier for them to find someone. I did this in my own relationship. People will even go great lengths to throw money out the window because they “care” about that person. They are willing to do any and everything for that person.
A big problem with relationships, of any kind, is lack of communication. A scene in “Her”, Samantha asks Theodore, “Are these feelings even real? Or are they just programming?” Does this mean that everything Theodore felt were not real feelings? What happens if the real person on the other side is not the person you thought to be? Yes, the feelings are there. Yes, the feelings are real. But this calls for real communication. My problem was that I had strong feelings and opinions, but I did not communicate them. If I was upset about something, I passed it off as not a big deal. If I was excited about something, I passed it off as not a big deal. I even found myself dreaming about certain scenarios where I could just be care-free and act completely myself in the relationship. But I feared being rejected. I feared connection and intimacy. From what I gather, people are more than willing to text/type their feelings out rather than communicate in person.
Because it’s almost as if they won’t get hurt. They don’t necessarily have to feel rejection or loneliness. This is a major issue with the porn industry. Porn promotes false realities of the love and certain intimacy that God grants us within marriage. For some, porn is their escape from loneliness. Porn is worldly. Porn misconstrues love. It gives a false sense of belonging. Porn is false representation of love outside of marriage through casual sex and lust. So many men and women cling to the idea that sex and lust mean love and will make them feel secure, but it does the opposite. A couple scenes in “Her” that are not my favorite, and wish to not see, shows what happens when sex is taken out marriage. The situations always ended up worse and making the characters relationships fall apart, rather than coming together. In the moment, it seemed as if these characters were completely happy and had not a care in the world. When it was over, they felt lonely and depressed again, only to keep coming back to it.
For others, it’s opiates. Often times, people resort to drinking and misuse of prescription drugs to numb the pain because it seems unbearable, which reminds me of one of my favorite lines from my favorite Christian poet, “I would rather know pain than be numb, but then again, we asked for the opiates to numb the pain for us.” -Levi The Poet. We try so hard to feel something real, but if it’s out of our comfort zone, we try to change the outcome to make us feel better, but in reality, it does the opposite. For others, it’s eating, or not eating. Loneliness can cause bad eating habits and not taking care of our bodies because we don’t feel it necessary. Loneliness can lead one to sleep all the time, or not at all. Binging on Netflix and not getting out of bed for anything and shutting down and not taking care of themselves. Sometimes we feel it best if we just bottle our emotions up inside instead of expressing our true feelings as if it makes the feeling goes away. But it makes them worse. Another form of a worldly fix is spending money. Some people do not believe that spending money is a way to not feel lonely. Heard of retail therapy? I have often found myself feeling saddened so I go and shop and buy clothes on an act of impulse. But afterwards, I still feel sad. Even more so because I have less money. (The struggle is real.)
Social media is another big one. How many of us resort to looking at our phones when we don’t know what to say? When we feel awkward in a group setting? To avoid eye-contact? This is a major step-back when wanting to progress in relationships. Social media has deteriorated relationships. People put others on blast, sub-post” or seek others for attention instead of working out their problems in their own relationships. COMMUNICATION IS KEY!
Towards the end of the movie, we see a different side to Theodore. After becoming more open and real and honest, he realizes the one person who had been there for him the whole time, his best friend, (Amy Adams). He has left all bitterness and anger behind and writes a loving, good-bye letter to his ex wife.
“Dear Catherine [____], I’ve been sitting here thinking about all the things I wanted to apologize to you for. All the pain we caused each other. Everything I put on you. Everything I needed you to be or needed you to say. I’m sorry for that. I’ll always love you ’cause we grew up together and you helped make me who I am. I just wanted you to know there will be a piece of you in me always, and I’m grateful for that. Whatever someone you become, and wherever you are in the world, I’m sending you love. You’re my friend to the end. Love, Theodore. [pauses] Send.”
But it took humiliation to get to this point. Realization. Vulnerability. And this is exactly where God needs us the most. God wants us to humble ourselves, and be so vulnerable that He can mend our broken hearts. What do we do when we are lonely? We distract ourselves. But instead of distracting ourselves, we should give ourselves to our Creator. The world will never fulfill our Godly desires. There is a reason why when we keep coming back to porn, drugs or shutting down that we never feel whole. We always yearn for more. It is time to break up with these things that hold us down. God designed us this way because we are to yearn for Him. He is more and will always be more.
When you feel the world is out to get you, it’s because it is. “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The would would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” -John 5:18-19. If you feel as if you are the only one who feels the things you are feeling, you are not alone, for even Jesus felt every emotion you feel. When you feel as if your loved ones have turned their backs on you, Jesus felt the exact same when His disciples denied Him as well. “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,[a] Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16. “About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?).” -Matthew 27:46. When you do not feel close to God, if you feel as if God has abandoned you, He has not. “…Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”- Hebrews 13:5. “Come near to God and he will come near to you…” -James 4:8. When you feel weak and can no longer fight, let Him fight for you. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10. When you feel as if you are constantly surrounded by darkness, let God be your light. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” -Psalm 23:4-6. When you feel brokenhearted or betrayed and confused, let Him restore you. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” -Psalm 147:3. When we feel as if our anxiety has taken over, cast our fears unto Him. “When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.” -Psalm 94:19. And when you need peace and restoration, seek Him for comfort. “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28.
I have often heard others say that when we are single, we are at our most lonely. This is far from true. What I always say is, “Well, what do the Scriptures tell us? Yes, God made man and woman. Yes, God made Eve a helper for Adam because it was not good that he was alone. But, some people just don’t get married. God has a different plan for everyone, and sometimes that doesn’t involve marriage. Being married does not define who one is, it just adds onto what that person is involved in. I am not “lonely” because I know I am not alone. If I am actively seeking Jesus, I never have time to be sad because this world is not my home. Is following God always going to look happy for me? No, because God calls me to do some pretty harsh things sometimes. And that’s okay. People have also told me that I miss out on opportunities because I don’t go seek out relationships. If these opportunities are from God, they will happen out of my control. I just have to be obedient in whatever He calls on my life. With God, I am never alone. If I ever feel lonely, it’s because I have pulled away from God. God doesn’t pull away from us.
Dear Reader, if you are struggling with something that has made you feel bitter, confused, heartbroken, lonely or anything less than, please seek someone you can trust with these things. Shoot me a message if you want to share with me what struggles you are going through, or even a praise of something that you have let go of. We will get through this together, through One Name.
Dear reader, you are not alone. You are loved. You are fought for. You are prayed over.