Suffering Through Little Miss Sunshine

Are you ready for a shock? My wife and I don’t have a working television. There. I said it. Judge us if you want to.

We used to have a Netflix subscription, but that was long enough ago now that we’re back on their “free trial” email list. Nope, if we have a hankering to veg out in front of a screen, we do so courtesy of our local library. In fact, I recently discovered the joys of reserving DVDs online through my library’s website.

It’s great! I can request 10 titles at a time and they call me when those titles are available to pick up. And since we visit the library regularly for our kids anyway, it takes no extra effort on our part to pick up movies for ourselves. Of course, the limiting factor is the same as the reason we don’t have cable or Netflix; we still need time to watch things.

little_miss_sunshineAnyway, one of the movies that I reserved a while back was Little Miss Sunshine. I swear I remember some friends of mine recommending this movie, and since it won some acclaim at Sundance and got a few awards from the Academy, I thought my wife and I might enjoy it.

I was only half right.

My wife stopped watching about half way through the movie, choosing sleep over frustration with a poor movie choice. I, however, am one of those people who will stick with a movie, even when the characters aren’t all that likeable or when things keep going wrong, in order to see how it ends. So I chose to finish the movie alone while my beautiful wife slept.

If you haven’t seen Little Miss Sunshine, here’s the one-sentence plot synopsis according to IMDB.com: A family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

Or here’s the trailer.

The family is made up of an unattractive little girl who dreams of being a beauty queen, a unsuccesful self-help guru, a divorcee, a heroin-addicted grandfather, a hate-filled teen who has taken a vow of silence and a suicidal, homosexual Proust scholar. Along the trip to the beauty pageant, bad things happen… and continue to happen.

That’s one of the reasons why my wife rolled over and stopped watching. What is the point of watching bad things happen to people she didn’t like?

But there was a bit of dialogue that happened after she gave up on the film that made the movie for me. Here’s the exchange:

Dwayne: I wish I could just sleep until I was eighteen and skip all this crap-high school and everything-just skip it.

Frank: Do you know who Marcel Proust is?

Dwayne: He’s the guy you teach.

Frank: Yeah. French writer. Total loser. Never had a real job. Unrequited love affairs. Gay. Spent 20 years writing a book almost no one reads. But he’s also probably the greatest writer since Shakespeare. Anyway, he uh… he gets down to the end of his life, and he looks back and decides that all those years he suffered, Those were the best years of his life, ’cause they made him who he was. All those years he was happy? You know, total waste. Didn’t learn a thing. So, if you sleep until you’re 18… Ah, think of the suffering you’re gonna miss. I mean high school? High school-those are your prime suffering years. You don’t get better suffering than that.

Yesterday, I was doing some research for the next Bible study that my small group is going to do together, and I was encouraged to look into a new study by Max Lucado called You’ll Get Through This. It’s a study that goes through the unfortunate life of the Bible’s Joseph and offers encouragement for people facing hardships.

The reason I bring up the Bible study on the heels of Little Miss Sunshine is because of the incredible timing of being introduced to both of them.

Suffering happens. All the time and in every way imaginable. According to Little Miss Sunshine, suffering will make us who we are. According to Max Lucado, there is a loving God who is there for us while we suffer.

I think both are true.

And though I learned something from the movie, I think I’ll let my wife pick out the next one so she doesn’t have to suffer from my choices again.

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