I recently watched Lars and the Real Girl. It is a deeply moving and beautiful movie. It is a story of a young man that is terribly introverted. He seems as if he is on the verge of collapse at any moment.Yet is this delicate framework Lars transforms the community that surrounds him.
As the film opens we find that Lars shields himself from the world. He chooses to view the world from the safe confines of his garage. His brother and sister-in-law worry about him. They are filled with hope and desire for Lars to have exist with proximity with others.
Lars fabricates proximity. Lars is unable to recognize the relationships waiting for him. Intimacy surrounds him. It beckons him to come.Yet Lars is paralyzed in fear that the pain of life will color the joys of the relationships he may have.
Something moves in Lars and he seeks proximity. He does so with the baby step as he enters a relationship with a sex toy, the real girl sex doll. There is nothing profane about this relationship. Lars introduces his “girlfriend” to his family (She is a missionary you know!) and then to friends and co-workers. They recognize Lars’ actions as an answer to their hopes for him. They rally around him as Lars seeks healing and proximity to those around him.
In the end Lars ends up being a wounded healer to the community. Lars is the focus of their efforts and this draws them into intimacy with each other.
In one scene when “Bianca” is dying the women’s church group sits with him. They bring food and sit with him. Present in his circumstance as Lars heals and moves into proximity with the ladies. One of the ladies is questioned as to why they are there. Her response is, “this is what people do. They sit with each other in these moments.” Lars is not alone in his hurt, or in his illness.
Like Lars Lindstrom from we all suffer from fear of intimacy and perhaps avoid intimate contact with others. We fear this intimacy and that it may produce uncomfortable silence in its wake.
Christ calls us to move beyond our fears and into contact, intimacy, and relationship with him and with each other. This is why just being a good person and doing “right” is not enough to transform a person. Only in community are we healed. Only in community can transformation breed.
Transformation is the by-product of life in community. We struggle with the real elements of life. The broken hearts, the overwhelming financial or emotional demands, the hopelessness delivered in sickness, and the eventual death that befalls us all. Tragedy and celebration are best served in community.
Lars teaches us that if we go it alone we are doomed to isolation and longing. It is in community that Lars begins to heal and human touch becomes therapeutic and ceases to be painful. We are called in to relationship with each other.
We are called to love our neighbor. This is beyond the casual offering of service at a food bank or the occasional handing of money to a homeless person. These things are good. Even better is welcoming all into our communities. Seeking ways to incorporate the other into our life and embracing the beauty and diversity in all of Gods creation is the Kingdom standard. To which we fail.
Imagine in your neighborhood streets full of people you share in the joys and sorrows of life. Imagine streets full of intimacy and a return of trust. It is not far gone. It is not impossible. It just takes a step outside of yourself and into the Other.
In the end Lars beloved partner dies and takes a piece of him with her. The community comes together and picks up the pieces. It sounds a lot like what Christ offers us. We die to this world and all of its depraved solutions and are returned to a healing, whole state within the community of God. In Jesus the Christ the world is transformed one person at a time.