Angelina Jolie’s search for love is both admirable and deeply human. I don’t usually follow the personal lives of Hollywood stars, though I am a fan of many genres of film, but Jolie’s story was featured in the Sunday Parade magazine a few weeks ago and I read it. Like most Hollywood stars she has gone through several husbands and now lives with a famous actor, Brad Pitt, who is not her husband but the father of their six children.
In the story, by Dotson Rader, Jolie says, “I always wanted a great love affair, something that feels big and full, really honest and enough. No moment should feel slight, false, or a little off. For me, it had to be everything.” She admits that finding such in a relationship is tough but adds, “[That] is what we are all looking for, isn’t it? Something authentic.”
I believe she’s right about that last statement. We are all looking for something “authentic.” The problem is with how we understand authenticity. The word authentic, and I think this is the way Jolie is using the term here, means “reliable, genuine, someone who can be trusted.” At age 35, and acclaimed as the world’s most glamorous actress, Jolie seems to have found what she wants, at least so far as she can tell at this moment in her most unusual life.
First, consider her work on behalf of the world’s most needy children. She and Brad Pitt have created a foundation and they have become two of the most widely profiled and generous benefactors for stateless, homeless children in the world. After going through what was a “self-destructive period” (her words) in her life she searched for something more. Finding herself filming in Cambodia she encountered war-torn refugees and was moved by their plight. She contacted the UN and eventually began a series of missions to areas of human catastrophe to help. She says, after seeing her first camp of 400,000 suffering people, “I felt guilty for everything I had. Then I realized I wasn’t doing these people any favors by crying. I kept getting angry at injustices until I couldn’t think straight. I took a deep breath and focused on how I could help. I discovered that I was useful as a person.”
That is a mature response to anger and guilt. I wish more people, of whatever persuasion, would take the same approach. She and Pitt adopted three refugees as children giving them their six kids, three naturally born and three adopted. She seems, from all one can tell, to be a genuinely devoted mother to them all. And she also seems quite satisfied in this role, even more than in her acting roles.
Sadly, she and Pitt remain unmarried but she says they stay together not because of the children or their work but because of their deep love. Jolie, by the way, has a Catholic background and confesses that she went to church recently to light a candle for her mother. She and Pitt are never apart for more than three days and alternate their movies so their lives are not buried in a film at the same time.
When the interviewer/writer suggested that she and Pitt are truly in love she replied, “I feel sad for someone who has never known love. Brad knows me completely, exactly as I am, every part of me. He loves me. The kids love me. They know all my flaws and all my oddities. And they accept them. And so I can feel complete.”
Jolie concludes: “Love? It’s such a funny word. Brad can find certain phrases of poetry for it. I’m terrible at it. But I know it means wanting the best for the people you love, putting their interests above your own, always. Love does that. Love is what you live for.” (You can contrast and compare this with 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and find that her expression actually gets pretty close to Paul’s understanding of love.)
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie seem like credible, wonderful and loving people. I hope their relationship continues for decades to come. I would truly love to see them get married, if nothing else for the statement that their action would make to their children about the permanence and place that marriage has within a loving and devoted family. I would deeply love to see Jolie return to whatever exposure to Christian faith that she once had and come to embrace it with all her heart. I say that not in a condescending way but rather because her story rings with truth. The only thing missing here is being loved by the ultimate lover, the only one lover who will never let her down or ever leave her, the God of covenant love and grace. Her beautiful and searching soul would find real love here, and abiding peace. May Angelina Jolie come to know the Savior who loves her who and then she will fully understand what she deeply longs for in her life.
Before you condemn people like Angelina Jolie, along with all the less compassionate egoists in Hollywood, why not see what makes her such an interesting person for a moment. Then pray for God to show her grace and peace in Christ, the one lover who will love her eternally.