Friends—As a belated Mother's Day gift, I'm pleased to offer this conversation with Sarah Drew, an actress (and the leading lady for the recently released film Mom's Night Out). Her thoughts below on culture, calling, and parenting are sharp and pastorally relevant. Enjoy! - Paul
Paul: Let's start with the film. Did your role in Mom's Night Out connect with your experience as a mother?
Sarah: Yes, absolutely. I've struggled a lot in my life with feeling like a failure. I lived in a "prison of perfectionism," holding myself to a standard I couldn't possibly live up to. Then I became a mom, and all of a sudden there arose even more opportunities for failure.
I'm pretty sure the feeling of inadequacy is universal for moms. I've done a lot of work in my life, and have begun to let go of that need to be perfect, and I loved that my character in Moms' Night Out was going through the same thing. She starts out feeling like she's not enough, but by the end of the film, she feels free. She sees herself as a mess but a beautiful mess—God's masterpiece. And that's enough. I have to preach that message to myself on a daily basis.
Ok. Does that go against cultural or Christian stereotypes of motherhood?
It goes against both, actually. In making the film, we set out to tell an authentic story about some broken human Christians—Christians who don't have all the answers, Christians who actually have something to learn from non-Christians. This is precisely why I wanted to tell this story.
It's been interesting to see some negative responses to the film from both mainstream culture and Christian culture. Some mainstream critics find our story regressive because we are celebrating those women who choose to make rearing their children their life's work. The stay-at-home mom has the terrifying, holy charge of raising up little eternal beings into people who will encounter the world (and the people in it) either with kindness and grace, or with malice and indifference.
I cannot think of a more important job. And yet, our culture rolls our eyes at these women. Our culture says they've "given up" on doing anything with their lives. So yes, our film is absolutely counter-cultural. We hold up the stay at home mom and we say, "Your job is deeply important and we honor you."
But we are also going against some Christian stereotypes as well, because we are presenting these Christian families as flawed. My character, Ally, is stressed-out and unhappy. She doesn't have all the answers, because she's trying to do it all on her own. Someone from outside of the church is the one who ultimately shares a story with her that enables her to let go of the perfectionistic prison she has put herself in and to remember how unbelievably loved she is.
As a Christian woman in Hollywood, I cannot tell you how many times people from outside the church have spoken deep, healing truth into my life. It's happened so many times. It forces me to my knees and reminds me that we—all of us human beings—are in this thing together. We have so much to learn from one another.