Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Eat Pray Love ~ A Lesson in Futility

Eat Pray Love is the true story of a woman who is unsatisfied in her marriage and unfulfilled in her life.  (Full disclosure:  I watched the movie but have not read the book.  I am not trying to judge her – these are simply my observations and opinions.)  So she divorces her husband (against his desires), finds a boyfriend, and takes off by herself on a year-long trek to Italy, India and Indonesia to find herself.

I thought this would be a fun adventure movie in the vein of Under the Tuscan Sun.  Not even close.

My first issue was with her leaving her marriage.  I accept that perhaps the movie was not complete in how it portrayed this scenario, but it seemed that she gave up and walked away from a husband who did not want her to go.  Yes, he seemed aimless and unfocused, but did she attempt counseling?  Did she try at all?

Soon after she finds a boyfriend – an actor performing in one of her plays (she is a writer).  She moves in with him and gets influenced by his new age beliefs.  This relationship gets rocky, which furthers her personal confusion and prompts her worldly adventure.

First stop, Italy.  She lives in a dilapidated apartment, makes some friends, learns Italian, and eats pasta.

Next stop, India.  She stays at the ashram of her boyfriend’s guru/yogi (I don’t even know the proper terms).  She meditates, makes some friends, and has to be told that fulfillment won’t magically appear at her feet.

Finally, to Bali, where she revisits a medicine man she had met on a previous trip.  She continues to meditate, visits a healer, and meets the man of her dreams.  Initially she’s scared to commit, but in the end, they sail off happily ever after.

I was incredulous at the messages this movie – her life, really – sends out.  I do not want to invalidate or belittle her emotions or life’s journey, but it really left me shaking my head.  When life gets hard – and it will – you can’t just run.  When you feel empty – and you will – it’s not an easy fill.

But mostly, she – and every single one of us – has a God-shaped hole in our hearts.  And not just any god or the god of your choosing, but a hole the shape of the one and only Father, Jesus Christ.  Some of us accept and fill that hole with the God who fits.  Others reject Him or don’t care or don’t want Him, and chase every path but the true one in a futile attempt to fill that gaping hole.

These empty, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, unbalanced hearts search for a way to fill up – on people, love, boy/girlfriends, jobs, status, money, alcohol, food, games, shopping, traveling… the list goes on.  Did this woman of Eat Pray Love really think her fulfillment would come at the bottom of a bowl of spaghetti?  Maybe for that moment it did, but a few hours later, she was probably hungering for more.  Would it come from an ashram?  Why that one and not one of the thousands of other Hindu gods?  Would it come from a medicine man?  A man who read her palm – a blatantly sinful act that goes against God’s word?

Filling our emptiness with further emptiness is no solution.  Not only does it not help, but it stretches that hole in an almost toxic way.  There is no lasting satisfaction, fulfillment, balance or healing.

It makes me sad.  I am left wondering if, in her time of need, someone – anyone – put their arms around her and asked her if she knew about the One – the only One who could ever fill that hole in her heart and never leave her hungering and searching again.

OK, I’m getting off my shoebox now.


  1. thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Silva. You're so right when you say, "Others reject Him or don’t care or don’t want Him." Our stubborn hearts want to be "masters of our own destiny," to be our own "god," rather than submit to the true King who made us.

    Incidentally, I read somewhere that the author of this book actually had a contract (and all expenses paid) from her publisher beforehand to take this "journey of self-exploration." Not exactly what it's portrayed as, is it?

  2. They didn't specify that in the film, but she did go see her editor to talk about the trip before she left, so maybe it was subtly implied. I guess that investment paid off, huh?