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Diving Off the Deep End

Laura Phelps
made for relationship with God

The song “Shallow” from the A Star Is Born movie has been in my head for three weeks. If you don’t believe me, ask my family. I am driving them crazy.

When I told my friend I hadn’t seen the movie, her response was absolute horror. You would have thought I told her that I was leaving the Catholic Church. Or growing out my facial hair. After the Academy Awards, she kept at me, “You have to see how they performed the song! Bradley rested his head on her shoulder while they sang! They looked so in love!” I had to see what she was so taken by. And so I googled, “Academy Awards Shallow Song.”

And now, a moment of silence…because, Oh. My. Word.

When it is time for me to go home to the Lord, if His gaze on me is anything like the way Bradley Cooper looks at Lady Gaga, then take me home now, sweet Jesus! Let’s just say I am a little bit obsessed with this movie, or to be more specific, with this on-screen connection. Full disclosure, I could have done without the language, but that aside, this story touched me deeply.  I felt like I was right there with Gaga and Cooper, sitting in the parking lot, listening in on a personal conversation. And when the movie ended, I missed their relationship – as co-dependent and tragic as it was – because deep down, I ached for a similar connection of my own.

Who doesn’t yearn for deep connection?

I watched an interview with Lady Gaga. She said she originally wrote the song as a solo, but when Cooper heard it, in a stroke of brilliance, he added his voice.  “It is a conversation about a man and woman and he actually listens to her,” she said. “Women today want to be heard.”

My husband and I can be pretty poor listeners, because we both work from home, and one of us always seems to have a phone in-hand, and by one of us, I mean my husband. I find I have to repeat what I say because after I wait for his reply, he looks up blankly and apologetically says, “I am sorry. Can you say that again? I wasn’t listening.”  And sure. I can easily throw him under the bus, but how often do I do the same exact thing? How many times has one of my children carried on with a story that I am half-interested in, only to give a, “that’s great!when I notice they have stopped talking. Or what about that woman you run into at the grocery store who stops to talk and all you can think about is the laundry at home and the appointment you have to get to and how badly you wish she picked up on social cues and closed her mouth? Listening takes time and well, our time is valuable. We don’t like to waste it on things like...people.

And if that last line sounds bad, that’s because it is.

Let’s just admit it. We are losing our listening skills and our relationships are suffering as a result. We want to be heard, but rarely do we have the patience to listen. It is something I am working on this Lent. Looking people in the eye and listening to what they have to say without forming an escape route, or planning in my head what I will say back while they are still speaking.

And we wonder why so many of our relationships feel disconnected.

Or maybe we don’t.  Some people think we are connected just fine and there is no problem. After all, with technology today, we are communicating with people at an unprecedented rate. But connection beyond screens is different and not just different but vital. In Opening Your Heart, author Lisa Brenninkmeyer writes,  

The truth is, we are growing increasingly socially isolated while online social networks are exploding. We are seeking connection, but so many of our connections aren’t satisfying. Too many of our relationships feel superficial, artificial, one step removed from the real thing. This isolation can be soul deadening.1

Why are we so in love with the song “Shallow?”  Because in this performance we see everything we long for — deep connection, face-to-face communion; someone who gazes back at us, hears what we are saying, and offers us a safe place to land.  Two people who so beautifully identify and call out what the other yearns for and the exhaustion that comes from filling the void with superficial things. And sure, doesn’t hurt that Bradley Cooper is just so darn easy on the eyes, and Lady Gaga’s vocal talent is flat out off the charts insane.  But don’t be fooled into thinking that’s all there is on the big screen that tugs at the heart. The hook is not the talent, it is the intimacy they invite us into; the power of deep connection, the moment when you realize that you are not invisible, your voice is heard, and you are finally seen for who you are.

You know, the shallow end of a pool is just three feet deep. How many of us are swimming in the shallow when it comes to our relationships? With our spouses? Our children? Our neighbors? Our friends? Our Church? Our God?  How many of us can sing, “I’m off the deep end, watch as I dive in, I’ll never meet the ground…?” This Lent, I invite you into the deep end of faith.  How? Run to Adoration, grab someone’s hand and bring them to Mass, sit across from a friend who simply needs her voice to be heard, really listen to the women at your table in Bible study instead of needing to be the one who is constantly speaking. Put your phone down and look into the eyes of the person you are sharing a room with. Because that intimacy we ache for in a Hollywood story…it is available to us, right here, right now. Truth is, we were made for more than the shallow.

Your Heavenly Father is waiting in the deep end…it is time to dive in.

 

  1. Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Opening Your Heart (2010-2018) p. 187

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