Friday, September 2, 2011

Groundhog Day: Living for What Truly Matters

Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.

You are probably familiar with the storyline, but let me recap it for you:  Phil, an arrogant weatherman, travels to a small town to do a feature on the groundhog’s shadow, gets stuck in the town for the night due to a blizzard that he failed to predict, and goes to bed, only to discover that when he awakens in the morning, it is once again February 2nd.  He is made to relive the same day over and over again, giving him the torture, the license, and finally the freedom to live life however he pleases with no repercussions to follow in the future.  He is arrested, attempts to seduce his producer, Rita, and even tries to kill himself on multiple occasions, but no matter what he does during the day, he once again awakens to his alarm on February 2nd. 

After having pursued selfish pleasures that failed to satisfy, Phil gradually begins to seek to help those in the small town, especially a homeless man, and in the process discovers that he has fallen in love with Rita. He lives with charity and kindness for those around him.  In the end Rita falls in love with him too, and he awakens to the joy of his alarm on February 3rd.

Clint and I have been discussing showing the movie to his high school Bible classes to lay the framework for the year, posing the questions: “What is virtue?” and “What is happiness?”  We see in Groundhog Day that Phil discovers the meaninglessness and futility of pursuing his selfish passions.  He can have whatever he wants and do anything, regardless of the law, but he does not find true satisfaction in any of these pursuits.  It is only when he puts the needs and desires of others above his own, that he finds true happiness and a way of escape from the endless repetition of February 2nd.

Though you have not been forced to relive the same day over and over again, but perhaps every day seems to blend into the next.  Perhaps you feel without purpose or direction.  Perhaps it all seems pointless and monotonous, an unending journey to nowhere.  Or maybe it is not that extreme, but you feel stuck or you are just plain tired.  This film pushes the viewer to consider what truly matters in life.  For what are you living?  Why do you get up every morning?  Are you rolling out of bed simply desiring to fulfill your own pleasures and get your way, or do you rise seeking to love others, pursue the truth, and delight in beauty? 

I think most of us would reply with the latter when the choices are so clearly stated, but what about the little things of life?  What about in the daily grind when you must decide between relaxing for a few more minutes in front of the tv or spending time in prayer?  What about giving a half-hearted effort on that project you have been putting off or devoting all your time and talent to its completion?  What about simply sitting in the pew at church or getting up an hour early and volunteering to serve in the children’s ministry?

Life is composed of these little decisions, the seemingly harmless laziness or the snide remark made under your breath.  It is of these seemingly harmless choices our habits are formed.  How we spend our minutes and hours each day, and what we prioritize will come to define us in the end.

May we choose to pursue virtue and true happiness in the everyday things of life.  May the Lord give us grace each morning that we might honor His name and serve Him faithfully.