It’s a movie about family, about the things we take for granted, about change and feeling stuck and about loss. It’s a movie about normal life but in an over-the-top comical sort of way that helps take a little of the sting out and makes you laugh even though you identify with the struggles. At the core of all of these concepts, at the root of it all, there is a rather piercing lesson about perspective and how perspective changes everything.
Gus and Maria had been married for nearly fifty years…or so they thought. Gus discovered a problem with the marriage license—the end result of which is that their marriage was never legalized. When Maria discovered that weren’t officially married, things changed for her. Her whole perspective changed with that one detail. Gus took it for granted that they would just correct the paper documentation, but Maria wanted more. She didn’t guarantee Gus that she would marry him. She wanted him to propose. She wanted a wedding. Really, she wanted him to romance her instead of taking her for granted, and now that their marriage had a snag, she had a little bit of power to request that.
Gus held out for a while. He thought it was ridiculous. Rather than hearing the desires of his wife’s heart, he focused on the absurdity of her demands. He didn’t want to humble himself before her. The two were in a power struggle. Funny, as they’d been fairly happily married all this time, but this one thing changed Maria’s perspective. Suddenly, she questioned her life, wondered if she’d been brave and adventurous and done the things she’d wanted to do with her life. Gus’s response didn’t help matters. Why would she give the rest of her life to someone who didn’t appreciate her, took her for granted, didn’t listen to her heart?
Just as one little thing started her on this journey (which was good in many respects, because it changed Gus’ perspective and made him more appreciative of his wife), so one little thing ended her journey with another change of perspective. Gus’ brother came to talk to her as she was having doubts before the wedding. He reminded her of when she and Gus met. He told her that Gus was enamored with her because of her bravery and sense of adventure—he knew that she was the only girl who would be brave enough to leave her family and her homeland and to adventure to America with him. Maria had been feeling that her life had been wasted, serving others, but never accomplishing anything for herself. But with that one comment from Gus’ brother, she realized she had done something with her life. She realized she had been brave and that her adventure was making a family that she loved.
Nothing had really changed in her life, but suddenly, she saw her life through a different pair of glasses—rose colored ones. Her new glasses were full of grace and love and gratitude for the life she had. Actually, we could go through pretty much every one of the main characters and see how a change in perspective “fixed” what was wrong in their situation, even though the situation didn’t really change, but I think you get the idea.
So often, we feel stuck in life for one reason or another. We think that what we need most is change; we need something to give. And maybe that does need to happen too, but the most important thing that that we need, often the only thing we need, is for a change in perspective. Sometimes it’s more important to have hope that God is working than for anything to actually change. Sometimes what we need is gratitude for what we do have, rather than to have something more or different.
If we look at Jesus’ life and ministry, he did a lot of changing perspectives. He came as a baby in a manger, not as a king. He started reading in the temple, the same words they’d heard a million times from Isaiah 61, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me to bring good news…” but then He, a boy they’d known all His life, said “these words have been fulfilled in your hearing.” It changed their perspective. His teachings changed perspectives, like when He said it wasn’t enough to not have adultery, just looking at someone lustfully was the same thing. Just like hating someone was the same as murder. He said the widow who gave her little coin was more generous and righteous than the big, wealthy, “generous” temple donors. He said people who were the outcasts of society were worth being loved. He changed everything by changing perspectives.
Take a look at some of this teaching from the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus was changing everyone’s perspectives, giving them a sense of gratitude for what they had and hope for what would come:
Blessed are the [c]poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the [d]gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
We cannot always change our circumstances but it is a wonder what a change for the better in our perspective can do for us and for those around us. And often, when our perspective changes for the better, we make way for our circumstances to follow suit. (And if they don’t, it’s OK, because our outlook is brighter anyway.)
Questions for Discussion:
- Even though circumstances may not have changed much, whose lives in MBFGW were changed/improved by a change in their perspective? What brought about that change in perspective for them?
- What things influence your perspective, for better and for worse?
- If perspective is really that important, and things influence you for better and / or for worse, then how do you think you should respond to that, take accountability for that? (What can you do to protect and/or cultivate having a good perspective?)
- How does being a Christian affect your perspective on things? (i.e. Knowing you have an all-powerful, all-loving God on your side, etc.)