Ellen Elliott: Geeking Out with God (Part 3)

John FarrellBy John FarrellFebruary 6, 202317 Minutes

John Farrell: I personally loved the Star Wars chapter as I’ve been a fan of it for over 40 years. What is the overall message behind that chapter?

Ellen Elliott: Just coming to terms with things that are holes in our life because of other people’s choices, other people’s neglect, or abuse, or sin, or anything. We live in a fallen world and because of that we’re going to end up with these big holes in our lives.

I’m personally thankful that I have a great dad. I don’t remember a time in my life growing up not believing that God loved me. Even as little as four years old I remember feeling that God loved me and He was looking out for me. Even before theology came into it, there was just that kind of solid, peaceful belief in that. But I think about the fact that I had a good dad and my dad loved me and I never doubted that love. So, I think for me, that was an easy transition to make. But for other people who for whatever reason didn’t have that in their life, that’s a hole there and that was a tough transition to make.

They might grow up with this kind of feeling that God’s going to let me down or God’s going to punish me or God doesn’t understand me or God’s not there. I was thinking about that with Luke Skywalker and his dad. How he had a really cruddy dad until like the last five minutes, you know?

I was also thinking about the fact that even though all of us have these little holes all over our lives, maybe it’s that our parents have let us down or friends or a spouse and the mistakes they made or anything like that. There are these holes in our life, but I also believe that we have a huge God and in weird God-like ways He can fill those holes. It might not be something we realize or how we thought it would look like.

I love the fact that even though Luke didn’t have his biological dad there to guide him and teach him and show him what good looked like, he was still provided for. He still had his Uncle Owen; he still had Ben Kenobi; he still had Yoda there to fill in the holes. I think God does that in our own lives. Even though this one area might be broken, not only can God restore that, He can make it into something amazing and beautiful and better than we ever thought possible. Those were my thoughts on that chapter.

Disney and Depression?

JF: When people think of or hear the word “Disney,” I’m not sure the first thing many people think of is depression. I thought that was an interesting connection. Could you talk a little bit about the connection you make between Disney and depression?

Ellen: I have always – definitely by age 13 – struggled with lifelong depression. It kind of runs in my family, and I think I’m artistic and I’m kind of odd and I’m kind of naturally bent that way. But I definitely really started struggling with it through high school and then big time in college.

During college, I ended up studying abroad over in Italy. This was back in the nineties, and everybody had a Euro-Rail pass if you were over there. I don’t know if that even exists anymore, but I ended up with all these extra days that I had to basically take the train somewhere in Europe or I was going to lose these days. This one weekend I ended up going by myself to Paris because I couldn’t talk anybody into going with me, but I didn’t really feel like going out with anybody anyway because I was struggling with depression pretty bad during that year. I ended up getting there and taking a day trip out to – it wasn’t even called Disneyland Paris at that point – I think it was still called Euro Disney, which is what they first named it. This was like ‘94, ‘95 that I went there. I was just big time struggling with depression during that.

I got there and it was kind of raining the whole day. I just had this really odd experience there the whole day by myself because there were no other English speakers there with me and like a bunch of Japanese and German tourists there. They were the only other people that cared about Euro Disney at that point.

It was like a wasteland there. It was awesome. It was like going to Disneyland, but no lines for anything. So, I ended up just kind of spending the day by myself, and I had actually picked at this little weird bookshop in Paris a beat up copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis that somebody had told me I should read. I kind of wandered around Disneyland and I started reading Mere Christianity.

I was just feeling so utterly in despair that day. But through the day I kept feeling God’s presence with me the whole day. I ended up on the Small World ride and riding it like five times. I just remember feeling wrapped in His love at that point. It’s not like the depression really went away, but I remember feeling like, “It’s okay. God’s got me. He loves me. Even if I am in the depths of despair, He’s still got me.”

For that reason, “It’s a Small World” has always had this place in my heart as the place where Jesus and I went on a ride together. I really felt His presence there. That’s the connection between depression and Disney, and then there’s more to it in that chapter where I talk about Elijah, too.

Like Lego’s Instructions, God Has a Plan for Us

JF: What message can be taken from the Legos chapter, “The Plans”?

Ellen: That would be about how you don’t necessarily know the way your life is going to go. You can follow your little perfect Lego directions all you want, which I love Lego directions. They didn’t have that when I was a kid. I would just make these weird shapes and I only had like four colors of Legos.

When I was thinking about that, I was like, “It would be nice if our lives had this little booklet that if we just put the orange thing here and then we put this here and if we follow every page, every step, then we’ve got this beautiful little contraption that we can put up on our shelves and look at it and dust it off.”

But life just doesn’t work that way at all. God has His own plans and I think we become happier the more we accept that and the more we fall in acceptance that God’s got these great plans for us. He’s going to do something with us and if we’ll just let Him and get out of His way, it’s going to be amazing. That is what I think when I look at all of my son’s weird things that he makes out of the leftover pieces. He always makes like really cool stuff, and I think that’s what God’s going to do with our lives.

Don’t Mess Things Up

JF: In the Back to the Future chapter you say, “Be a Daniel, don’t be a Marty.” Can you explain that a little more?

Ellen: Basically, Marty is a fish out of water when he gets transported back to the fifties where his parents are teenagers. The one thing he’s not supposed to do is interact with his parents and mess stuff up and mess up the future. And of course, that’s literally one of the first two things he does.

He messes things up with his dad. He messes things up with his mother. He’s not supposed to be there. He’s supposed to tread lightly upon this world that he’s entered and do what he needs to do, but not get sucked into it because he could really screw stuff up. He doesn’t do that and he screws stuff up.

I compared that to Daniel. Daniel was kind of in the same position. Daniel was this lover of the one God and yet he was exiled in Babylon. He was supposed to be treading lightly, still adhering to the life that God wanted him to lead, but yet he was also having to be an advisor to the King. He was also having to be part of this world that he definitely didn’t belong to. He had to respect the world around him, respect the King, respect his place, but also still follow and worship God. Daniel did a very good job of that and Marty did a very poor job of that.

JF: What impact has the book and the connections it makes had on your personal faith?

Ellen: I think I’ve kind of gotten bolder a little bit. I’ve always had strong opinions in my own little world. I relate to Moses sometimes, and I’m not comparing myself to Moses, because he was amazing and led people out of Egypt and all that. Like basically when God says, “Hey dude, you’re going to have to go talk to the Pharaoh.” And Moses is like, “I am not good at that. I stutter. Please don’t. No, there has to be somebody else. I’m not the person.” I think for a lot of my life I felt like that because again I can be kind of spazzy in how my brain works. I’m here and then I’m there and I’m everywhere and sometimes I think I don’t make sense or I’m not getting my point across.

When I undertook writing this book, I was like, “I don’t know how this is going to go down.” But through it, I felt like I did find more of my voice, and I really enjoyed writing it. I really enjoy talking to people. I really enjoy talking about what God’s doing in my life and other people’s lives. I just like bringing fun to other people and humor. I feel like God has more of that planned for me, which has given me some confidence.

JF: What is your personal testimony or your own journey with Christ?

Ellen: I was raised in a Christian home. I never really remember not believing in God and Jesus, it was just always part of my life. I went to a Christian camp, and I actually wrote a little bit about that particular Christian camp in this book that later I became a camp counselor at.

I actually went there when I was in junior high and that’s when it became real to me, and I professed Jesus as my Savior at that point. Throughout the rest of my life, I think I’ve attended every denomination church there is. I feel like my faith has always been the most important thing to me. My relationship with God has been the most important thing to me since that day.

I have a more complicated relationship with figuring out where my place is within the church, specifically “the church” in quotes. That kind of the standard American church, whatever that looks like, because I’m a little quirky and I’ve always felt like an oddball, like I didn’t fit in.

I’m currently attending a church right now that I do really like and I feel more like I fit in than anywhere else, but I see my mission field throughout my life as being just whoever’s around me – in my work and with my children. I have a really big heart for those who struggle with depression and mental illness. I would say that is probably my biggest heart’s passion; helping people in that area and know that they’re loved and know that God created them exactly the way they are for a reason. Jesus is my Lord and I walk with Him every day and some days are great and some days aren’t great, but He’s always there.

GEEK AND YE SHALL FIND, Copyright © 2019 by Ellen Matkowski. Used by permission of Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon 97408. www.harvesthousepublishers.com

Featured Image Credit: Carlos / It’s a Small World / CC BY-NC 2.0

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