By Marilette Sanchez
(WARNING: May contain plot spoilers from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’)
I listened to Britt Nicole’s “Still That Girl” and I couldn’t help but break down. It’s like she wrote that song for me. I totally relate to how “dreams may change” and “plans may fail,” and how once upon a time, Britt believed she could be the girl “shining in the dark,“ the bright-eyed girl who truly believed she could change the world.
I’m thinking about ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ and its different portrayals of femininity.
The movie showed a housewife in a good light. Usually, the media portrays married life for a woman as a prison, insinuating that she is silently torturing herself by suppressing her desires for a career. Mrs. Hawkeye (Laura Barton, played by Linda Cardellini) pushed her husband to be his best. The script showed her as a helpmate and that her role holding down the fort is not something to be ashamed about.
Then there’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson’s character. This girl holds her own with the superheroes, but her sterility is a personal tragedy. She can’t divorce herself from the desire to fulfill one of the time-honored, highest purposes of women: motherhood. It’s good for her to have a career mission, but there’s something about nurturing and rearing the next generation that is innately feminine. And Scarlett’s character can’t shake the feeling that it’s something she wants, too. Because she cannot have a legacy in the next generation in the traditional way, it’s a great sorrow for her. But I’m glad, God, that at the end of ‘Avengers,’ Black Widow along with Captain America, two characters who cannot have kids or families, start to mentor.
The contrast of these women highlights the struggle I’ve often had with myself and with you, God.
There’s a lot of competition: stay-at-home vs. working mom. I guess this movie shows that it doesn’t have to be either. You do what works for you and your family. There are two different and seemingly mutually exclusive needs as a woman: significance at home and significance outside of the home. It seems like history has been extreme pendulum swings idolizing one over the other.
God, I look back nostalgically at my college days when You first gave me the vision to be a mainstream magazine writer. I know that’s not exactly your plan for me now, but for some reason, You allowed me to believe that then. I remember the summer of 2011 when You asked me to give up that dream to join Cru with my husband Moses as a full-time missionary (more about that here) and how soon thereafter You allowed me to become pregnant and become a mom. God, when all of these variables entered (i.e. invaded) my life, it was easier to give up on my dream to have any impact in the entertainment industry.
My heart closed up on that dream; it was easier to give up completely on my role in shaping culture, to live a quiet little life as a mom and housewife and missionary’s wife.
Then last year, You nudged me to open up my heart again to the inclusion of Hollywood in my scope of ministry. My blog took off. I met several artists in mainstream media who happen to be Christians. A few high school students have all expressed how my writing has affected the choices they have made as a teenager. This is all sounds great, but even as I write it, it’s bittersweet.
“Things we face make us who we are” is another line I love from Britt Nicole. God, the theme of trusting you, even in the midst of evolving dreams has become a recurring one in my life. Maybe it’s because I’m so quick to base my identity on a vocation or job description instead of clinging directly to You and simply abiding in You.
“What if the picture is bigger than you see, and God has you right where He wants you to be?” probes Britt.
It’s so hard to believe that you are knitting all these seemingly contradicting and incompatible dreams together. It’s like that summer of 2011 was me giving up the dream of writing completely, completely letting it go in exchange for a life of ministry at Cru and then as a mom. Then soon, You brought back writing, after I was already content to be a stay-at-home mom and investing in my kids as my disciples.
Now I’m always in this weird awkward spot where I’m torn all the time.
But I guess as Britt said, it’s all in Your plan and You have me right where You want me to be. I think of the article I read recently about how a mom always felt guilty taking time away from her young kids to write. But in the end, her kids grew up and learned that mommy prioritized and followed her dreams, and they learned to do the same. Talk about perspective.
God, I want the same for my family and me. I hate that feeling of being pulled in all different directions, but I guess I need to trust You that Your ways are higher than my ways. God, I understand this in theory, but it’s so hard to apply this in the trenches, in the everyday life when I haven’t written or had quality time with you in a while. It’s nearly impossible to remember when my heart feels heavy and in need of a break from cleaning, cooking, and homeschooling, and yearn for more “significant” things to do with my time. So funny that this awkwardness is part of Your plan. God, I believe, but help my unbelief.