How to Deal
—About this Film
How to Deal was a movie chocked full of good advice on how to handle imperfect people and situations. I kept looking for an overriding theme, but I should have gotten a clue from the title. Perhaps it was too late in the evening. There is no panacea for how to accept the adversity that is thrown our way, but there are individual lessons along that way that will take us across bridges. These lessons keep us from bogging down in disappointment. They help us accept others for who they are at whatever stage in life they are living. And they allow us to take the next big risk we fear. Here are a few of the lessons I picked up on “how to deal” with life:
“Sometimes life is so perfect. It has to be, so you can put up with the bad stuff.”
–This was one of the opening lines in the film. It reflects the cyclical nature of life, and the fact that things never stay too bad or too good for too long. If you’re in a valley, there is only one direction to go—up. Likewise, if you’re on a hill, don’t get too comfortable. Things always change. The famous lines from Ecclesiastes 3 (There is a season for everything…) were turned into a song by the Bob Dylan, and became wildly popular because they were simply true.
“They are fighting because they love each other enough to care. That’s love.”
– Hallie and Scarlett represent two very different perspectives on love at the beginning of the movie. The two spy Hallie’s sister Ashley in a lovers quarrel with her new fiancé, Lewis. Hallie represents the reserved, probably fearful, person who would rather avoid a relationship than to be hurt by it. In this instance, she plays the skeptic, claiming people are under a strange spell that causes them to fight once they make a commitment. Scarlett replies that fighting means the relationship is valuable. As couples argue and communicate their needs to one another, they get to know each other better and the reconciliation inevitably brings them closer together. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love. The kisses of an enemy may be profuse, but faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Proverbs 27:5-6.
“What is normal?”
Hallie states that she used to think her family was perfect. Of course, all kids think their lives are normal until they are shown otherwise. As people grow older, they face the fact that normal is something that cannot be pinned down. It is by forsaking unrealistic ideals and accepting people as they really are (imperfect and at different stages in maturity), that life becomes manageable. On the other hand, it is always good encourage one another to become better, but always with love as a foundation. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24.
“You were too busy hating dad to listen.”
–Telling the truth--it’s a marvelous thing, especially when the response is sympathetic. Hallie tells her mother that the reason she doesn’t understand her is because she (the mother) had been too busy hating her (Hallie’s) dad to listen. Naturally the mother didn’t want to hear that, but her response was simply golden. She said, “I’m sorry this happened to you.” She made no excuses, she expressed compassion, and she kept the lines of communication open with her daughter. Hallie then responded by disclosing her true feelings, the underlying “why” of her new bad attitude. She expresses her hatred for what their father put them through by breaking up the family, but then follows it up by saying she also doesn’t hate him. The mom’s compassion reinforced their relationship rather than further breaking it down. “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.” Proverbs 24:26.
“Nobody’s perfect, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth your while.”
–Wisdom from Grandma is always a welcome treat. Hallie discloses that her relationship with Macon is over after he deserts her in the hospital. The grandma replies, “First loves are never really over,” and follows it up with the idea that every relationship is worthwhile regardless of how it ends. With this kind of attitude, Hallie could potentially overcome the broken heart syndrome and begin to take risks again. This is the follower of Christ’s plight in a nutshell. Each person is to take adversity, learn from it, and become stronger and more loving after it is over. “…we rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Pain is a building block for wisdom, and the person who learns this early has an incredible advantage on the world. I also liked that these words came from Grandma. It is nice to see films giving the elderly their due as people who have lived long lives and seen more than most of us.
“Here’s to messy, out of order, beautiful moments…”
–Lewis makes a toast to Ashley (Hallie’s sister) after they repair their relationship problems. He says Ashley has shown him that life is worth embracing, with all of its imperfect moments. “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.” Rom. 15:1 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you in order to bring praise to God.” Rom 15:7. “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.” Rom. 14:19. .Errors, fights and making up are the “stuff” of life. They are what memories are made of. They are the stories you tell your grandchildren. They are indeed messy, out of order, beautiful moments.
“Love is about what you do, not the words you say.”
–Macon makes a sincere appeal to Hallie and says several great things about love. But, this line was my favorite. Talk is indeed cheap, at least when actions don’t back it up. Macon challenges Hallie to try again with him to rekindle the flame. They have both had fears and faults, but he is willing to do what it takes to make it work. The next step is ACTION. Christ placed incredible emphasis on the importance of reaching out in love in a tangible way (see Matt. 25:31-46). The Bible constantly urges people to reach out to those who need it and act according to faith. He even makes it personal by challenging his followers, “If you love me, you will keep my commands.”
There were many other lessons on “how to deal” with life in this film. I suppose I liked it primarily because it was realistic. Everything and everyone in the film had something right and something wrong with them. There were no perfect people and I think the film successfully advanced its message because of this. “Things happen and you just have to deal.” I recommend it to anyone seeking a few extra nuggets of wisdom.