Many of us have seen the chick-flick movie with Julia Roberts, Eat, Pray, Love.
It is an enjoyable couple of hours watching one woman’s search to find balance in her life.
The scenes in Italy, India and Bali make the movie lush and captivating and the woman’s spiritual quest seems admirable, on the surface.
As a Christian, when I saw this film, I wanted to tell Julia she was searching for God in all the wrong places. But something else also bothered me about story.
The tale begins with this woman in an unsatisfactory marriage. No drama. The husband doesn’t abuse her and there are no other parties involved. She is just vaguely disappointed in her husband and not enjoying her (obviously affluent) life. Her dissatisfaction leads her to turn, desperately and uncharacteristically, to prayer. She falls dramatically to her knees with hands pressed together and utters, “Hello God. It’s nice to finally meet you,” then proceeds to beg for help from her unbearable situation. She decides God is telling her to divorce her husband. [Warning! If you think God’s answer to prayer contradicts His word, the Bible, you are not hearing His voice, but your own.]
Almost immediately she becomes involved with a younger man. Through this relationship she is introduced to Hinduism and begins her spiritual and physical journey.
She travels around meeting interesting people, learns a few things about herself and ultimately finds true love.
Along the way, she performs a few isolated acts of generosity, but her focus never deviates from a search for personal happiness.
She learns to eat for pleasure in Italy, meditate for peace of mind in India, and love herself in Bali. All this self-examination results in her finding the perfect partner and happiness (fade out).
I couldn’t help thinking as the credits rolled that her new lover had better not ever disappoint this lady…because it’s all about her.
Being focused on one’s own happiness is a sure recipe for dissatisfaction in life.
A life of authentic balance begins with love of God and others, prayer to stay close to God and intercede for others, and with eating and all the other pleasures of the flesh, following after.
That is balance that brings peace and you can find it anywhere.
[Original version of this blog posted 2/13/2011]