I love old movies. Those classics from the 20th century where someone bursts into a song and dance. Where the boy always gets the girl. Where there’s a happily-ever-after. Betty Grable. Fred & Ginger. Judy Garland.
The romance. The innocence. It’s purely fluff and fantasy, but some days, it’s a nice diversion.
I’ve also seen one or two classics that are just the opposite. Real. Raw. Gritty. That’s how I’d classify the iconic movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
The main character is Holly Golightly. She’s a young, beautiful, fashionista who appears to have the world by the tail. Beautiful clothing, parties, famous people, money, and men seem to be the staples of her life. Independent, self-supporting, and free, she lives life on her own terms. She answers to no one and does as she pleases. She thrives on adventure, making a point to do things she’s never done in the past for no other reasons than she’s never done it. Her favorite activity: having breakfast at Tiffany’s, the world renown jewelry store on 5th Ave in New York City.
The character of Holly Golightly, played by Audrey Hepburn, became the symbol of style, sophistication, and independence that many women hoped to achieve. As we look at the iconic photograph of her standing in front of Tiffany’s, pencil thin in the perfect little black dress and perfectly coiffed hair, most of us have sighed and whispered, “if only”. If only I looked like her. If only I had her style and sophistication. If only I had her wardrobe and money. If only I had her carefree life. Her friends. Admirers. Independence. This woman – this character – the look of Audrey Hepburn – is the woman that many women dream of being.
However, the reality is, most of us are more like Holly Golightly than we know.
Though iconic and trend-setting, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is really a story of brokenness. Holly is a deeply wounded woman, having suffered abandonment and rejection in childhood. To cope with heartache, she creates walls and hides behind those stylish sunglasses. Self-medicating with shopping and booze, she develops a new persona by moving across the country, changing her name, and pretending to be something she is not. She lives a shallow life and keeps people at arm’s length to prevent them from seeing that she is lonely, insecure, fearful, and unstable. She often experiences what she calls the ‘mean reds’, which is intense anxiety and fear. And, when overwhelmed by the mean reds, she gazes into the windows of Tiffany’s and dreams, pretends, and fantasizes, lying to herself, imagining that this is not really her life until she is able to push fear and anxiety into the background.
She’s so afraid of commitment, of loving and being loved, that she refuses to name a homeless cat that lives with her, simply calling it “Cat” because a name would make their relationship seem too real- too permanent. She fears relationships will cage her and, like a bird, she’d be trapped and unable to fly freely.
What she’s failed to realize is that all the steps she’s taken to keep herself protected and remain free have done the exact opposite. The walls she’s built, the shallow-phony persona, the care-free existence, the drinking, shopping, and lying to herself have caged her and limited her in the worst way. They have kept her heart from substance and truly experiencing real freedom.
Holly spent her life looking for help, healing, and wholeness in all the wrong places.
Doesn’t that sound like many of us?
I think every woman can identify with some of Holly’s choices. So many of us have built walls to protect our self, to keep others out, to prevent others from seeing into our wounded-ness, to hide our brokenness. We’ve utilized society’s tools of money, alcohol, pills, shopping, sex, and attention to cope with our pain. We’ve surrounded ourselves with people only to keep them at arm’s length, because we’re afraid of transparency. We live with fear and anxiety, at times being overwhelmed by them. We pretend to be something we are not, performing for acceptance and love. We lie to ourselves to help us deal with the stress of life. We’re looking for help in all the wrong places.
And, like Holly, we don’t even see it. We don’t realize we’re broken. We can’t see we aren’t free. We can’t see we aren’t whole. We think this is how life is supposed to be. That this is how it works. That this is normal.
It’s not until someone says to Holly: “You call yourself a free spirit, a “wild thing”, but you’re terrified somebody’s going to stick you in a cage. Well, baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.” that she realizes how wrong she’s gotten it.
The honesty of those words sinks into her heart and expose her life for the sham that it is.
Those words are very similar to what Holy Spirit whispers with love into our hearts. He gently points out the reality of our circumstances, revealing the lie that our self-declared freedom is really bondage. That our independence is actually crippling us. That our self-medication is only masking the pain and adding to the chains that bind us. That our self-created person is just a sham, hiding the beautiful creation He designed us to be.
It’s at this point that He reveals that Jesus stands ready and willing to set us free from the cage that imprisons us and the chains that bind us. He stands ready but waiting on us to respond. Will we let the Truth of His words impact us, sinking deep into our heart and the revelation wash over us? Will we come clean and confess we’ve had it all wrong and we don’t know what we’re doing? Will we accept His invitation to freedom and let Him tear down the walls and unravel the fake persona to reveal our true identity? Will we let Him do all the magnificent things He’s planned for us so that we can truly soar, and become the woman He created us to be?
Or, will we let the fear of transparency and pain of authenticity stifle us and keep us imprisoned in the cage that holds us back and limits us? Will we live in the chains that weigh us down and produce fear and anxiety? Will we stay bound by a false identity, trapped behind prison walls we built?
The “wow” in the story of Holly Golightly is not in the clothes or lifestyle. It’s not the supposed care-free life and glamour. It’s that in the end, (at least in the movie) she chose love. She chose to let love in. It’s that she realized her life had no value without love. None of the things she had could give her what authentic relationship could give her.
If you really want to be like the iconic Holly Golightly – let go of those things that bind you, restrain and cage you in and choose LOVE (1John 4:8). Choose to let Abba Father in and allow Him to heal your brokenness and give you beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, and garments of praise in exchange for the cloak of heaviness, despair, and anxiety you wear (Isaiah 61:3). It is only in Him that you can experience the care-free life (1Peter 5:7) of true adventure and live the life you were always meant to live – one that is fulfilled and content (John 10:10).
*taken from a message shared at a women’s event.