A Moving Picture

My 3-year-old has a new catch phrase response for when you ask her a question and she doesn’t know the answer. Or at least, doesn’t have the words handy. She says, “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet.”

Now, somewhere in her quickly-developing brain, there is a very literal connection in there, something that has to do with an actual movie. Not that she’s seen many movies–she does well to sit through a 20-minute cartoon–but she thinks there is a movie that goes with everything. Every book she owns, every Bible story she hears at church… even, i think, the life of every person she knows. There must be a big-screen adaptation of her own life, in development stages even as we speak! When will she quit sucking her thumb?  What will be the name of the first boyfriend to make mom and dad crazy? Will she get a basketball scholarship so we can retire on her college money?

I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet.

No 3-year-old intentionally develops a catch phrase. But to me, that response is just downright profound and existential, applicable to every life question facing each of us. From the broad and universal, to the minute and immediate:

“What’s for dinner tonight?” “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet.”

“Who is supposed to be in charge of this project? Is this presentation going to be done on time?” “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet.”

“Why is this happening to me? Why do bad things happen to good people?” “I don’t know. I haven’t seen the movie yet.”

“Why are we here?? What is the meaning of life? When will we find the path to world peace? When will they uncover the significant health benefits of chocolate pie?”

Don’t know. Haven’t seen it.

Yessir. This is my new answer to EVERYTHING. With many thanks to my Bopper, who will someday hate to have her own words turned back on her with a loving bit of snark.

“Mom, why can’t I have my own car? Why can’t i stay out later? Why isn’t my allowance as much as my bff’s? Why do i have to have a crazy, embarrassing minister for a mom???”
Don’t know, kid. Haven’t seen the movie.

And even if i had–even if i had, in fact, seen the movie in which all the days of your life are written–well, I wouldn’t tell you. Spoilers, you know. The movie is up to you, and I’ll do my very, very best to let you figure it out as you go. Even if i hate the boyfriend. Even if your hair is pink and you have a potty mouth. But if you can make it happen…well, that basketball scholarship would be great.  Love, Crazy Embarassing Minister Mom.

"I think the Dr. Hu version is better."

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  • Life as a story is a compelling metaphor. There are some legal thinkers that talk about the job of a judge in ruling on the meaning of a law is to direct the law in the direction the judge thinks is best, but not in such a way as to cause a discontinuity. It’s like the judge is continuing a story that first the legislature and then other judges have been telling.

    Surely, we are in the process of telling a story in conjunction with God. And neither one of us has seen the movie yet.