I usually do not give much notice to commercials (fast forwarding whenever possible), but recently an advertisement for the perfume, Miss Dior, did exactly what the producer intended – it caught my full attention.
In the film, Natalie Portman stars as a runaway bride. The wedding venue and dress exude absolute perfection. But the film is strangely black and white.
Portman is wavering, and as she reaches the end of the aisle her doubt turns into decision. “I am sorry, Dad” she says as the scene bursts in to vibrant hues and Portman tears off her gorgeous hand-crafted gown to reveal a black cocktail dress.
Feminist Janis Joplin’s power anthem, “Piece of My Heart,” cheers Portman on as she runs fast and hard away from her vows, her family, and fiancé.
A second later she reaches a precipice, and a helicopter appears and she leaps on. Her apparent lover (also co-pilot) kisses her on the cheek and they fly away into the sunset. Portman has chosen to be “Miss Dior” instead of a married madam.
As I observed the grandeur scene and message of “freedom” portrayed by Portman, it made me sad.
Not because she chose singleness. No one should marry the wrong person and singleness is an equally esteemed gift from God as marriage. No, I was saddened by her rebellion against the commitment of marriage and the glorification of a life free from marital responsibilities.
It is hard for me to remember that there was indeed a time in my life when the only person I was responsible for was myself (much less jumping on a helicopter with rose petals swirling all around).
These days my life is filled with responsibilities to my husband and children. I wish in that order. But the majority of my time is spent doing things like changing a diaper on a minivan floorboard, scrubbing up calcified play-doh, or saying things like “We don’t play with toilet water” and “No you can’t wear princess slippers to the grocery store.”
I’m a runner and I used to think logging miles was hard. Now hitting the road all alone sounds like a breeze. It’s the getting out the door part that is the real marathon.
Everywhere I go I have little “helpers” with me. Sometimes we go places and they are magnificent. Sometimes we go and they’re not, and I wonder why we even went.
Some people would look at my life and say that I have no freedom. I can’t go running when I want to. I can’t read a book when I want to. Sometimes I can’t even finish a task the way I want to.
Now I understand why my mom used to eat ice cream in the bathroom with the door locked.
Let’s be real, I live in a world completely different than that of “Miss Dior.” But as I watched Portman fly off into the sunset it made me wonder, “Does she feel free?”
It’s all hypothetical of course but then again maybe it isn’t.
Have we really reached a point where freedom is portrayed by such petty play things like a little black dress, a helicopter ride, and a man to kiss but not commit to?
Is freedom merely the absence of responsibility?
If that’s the definition of freedom, I don’t want it.
It has such an achy hollow feel it hurts.
No husband to laugh and grow old with. No knowing glances that span not just the room but the test of time. No one to love you when you’re just plain unlovable. No one who says, “I will never leave no matter what” or “You are the only woman for me in this whole wide world.”
No chubby cheeks to kiss. No baby to rock in the night. No pretend list for Santa or stick figure family portrait. No one to make you laugh over spilled milk, no one to whisper “You are the best mommy ever” even though you know you’re not.
Yes there is a staggering amount of responsibility that comes with being a wife and a mother, but oh how my heart is soaring!
Because true freedom doesn’t come in what I rebelliously cast off but in what I humbly accept.
For love to exist there has to be a taking on of responsibility.
It was the ultimate groom who taught us this when He bled for his bride, the church.
There was the deepest of pain, but the love.
The greatest and most beautiful love story.
It cuts me to the core every time because if “The Son sets you free you are free indeed” (John 8:36).
Because in the end being free isn’t about what you run away from, but Who you run to.
So Janis Joplin you can sing and Natalie Portman you can run, but I’m just not buying the message you are selling.
I want the good stuff, the love that spans the ages, the commitment that lasts a lifetime, and the true freedom that cannot be so easily obtained.
I originally wrote this post on December 28, 2015. While my responsibilities and family have grown since then, this post rings even more true to me now.