The other night I went to my first Hollywood movie premiere. My buddy Justin is one of the producers of the really poignant film Skateland, which is having its theatrical release today. It was great being able to spend time with Justin and his lovely girlfriend Katy, as well as Justin's brother Stephen and his beautiful wife Jamie. The only bummer was that Michele wasn't able to make it. Between babysitting issues and not wanting to leave our little six-month-old nugget it unfortunately just wasn't doable. Nonetheless it was great to be there supporting my incredibly talented friend.
The night got me thinking a lot about what we do and don't value. The film's headliner is Ashley Greene, of Twilight fame. When Ashley is on the red carpet the flashbulbs go crazy. By Hollywood standards Ashley is very hot… a very valuable commodity. As long as she stays on top the paparazzi will keep her in their sights. But what about a time if and when she falls from Hollywood grace? Or what about my friend Justin? Say this movie receives high critical marks and solid box office numbers… he will be viewed as a hot producer. But what about when he produces a ridiculous flop that falls to the floor? As my friend I hope that day doesn't come for him, but what if it does?
Hollywood is a strange subculture that in many ways is a hyper-embodiment of society at large. When you are up, there are many people who would be happy to join you in up-land. Oddly, when you are down the party starts to become a bit thinner.
Some of you may know that I first moved out to California in 1998 to pursue an acting career. I had graduated from Texas A&M with a business degree and immediately entered in to law school. After a year of law school and a large amount of accrued student loans I came to the conclusion that the law was not for me. As a backlash reaction to my years of methodical type-A planning I decided to go a little crazy and sell my Jeep to get the money to travel the European continent. While in Europe I determined that my next adventure would be to go out to California to become a superstar. Well let's just cut to the chase and say that I didn't exactly have the flashbulbs working overtime. Though I had fun doing some really forgettable extra work on shows like 90210 and Ally McBeal I never "made it".
God definitely had a plan in moving me out to the state where I would eventually meet my best friend, who just so happens to be the mother of my children. Looking retrospectively I can say with complete sincerity that I don't regret a thing about the path I've traveled, mainly because I viewed my "acting career" (if you can call it a career!) as more of an adventure than a vocation. There are many people in Hollywood however who have pinned their hopes and self-worth on the presence or absence of public adulation. They are striving to to be in a position like Ashley was in on Wednesday night. But for every Ashley there are thousands of beautiful, talented people that will never achieve a bit of notoriety.
So if value doesn't come in the form of public recognition how will value be affirmed? Or for that matter is there even value to affirm? If something isn't valued does it even have worth in the first place? Economic market forces tell us that prices are determined by supply and demand. If there is no demand can there be an accurate price? According to our culture things that are not valued have no worth. Would our culture be right about that judgment?
In Psalm 139:14 the psalmist says: "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well." The psalmist knew that as part of God's creation he or she was not a mistake. It was not chance or happenstance that led to the writer's creation, the psalmist was an intentional work of art made by a God of superlative creativity.
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made." What does that mean exactly? Fearfully most likely refers to the idea that we were created in an incredible way that would elicit fear or wonder. Basically, our creation was a pretty big deal not to be taken lightly. Wonderfully is more self-explanatory but is too often not recognized. When you were created God looked at you and thought to himself, "that person is pretty wonderful. I just did a pretty great thing in making that guy (or gal)."
So what is worth then? How can we determine what is valuable? …by reading headlines or press releases? …or how about instead by reading verses like Psalm 139:14? This world is characterized by ups and downs. Michele loves Heidi Klum's Project Runway. Heidi describes the world quite accurately when she tells contestants, "One day you're in, the next day you're out." At moments we will have incredible successes that have us riding on a wave of popular sentiment. And at other moments we will have failures that make us feel like the floor has swallowed us up. But through it all we can be assured of the truth that we were fearfully and wonderfully made. Any voice telling us that we are worthless is a lie of epic proportions. We were created in the image of a God of infinite worth whose love for us is wider than we could ever possibly imagine.
That is the only review we will ever need.