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Hope is Where the Heart Is: Grey’s Anatomy’s Sarah Drew on Indivisible

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

You probably recognize Sarah Drew from her nine-year stint on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. April Kepner. Or perhaps you remember Drew for her comedic turn in the 2014 faith-based movie Mom’s Night Out

In her latest role in the just released Indivisible, a movie she also executive produced, Drew portrays Heather Turner, a long-suffering military wife fighting to save her marriage to a war-scarred Army chaplain. 

Not unlike the real-life character she plays, Drew found herself identifying deeply with some of the battles Heather fought due to marital troubles she experienced early in her own marriage.

I recently spoke to Drew about the brutal honesty of Indivisible, the importance of community when your marriage is failing, and some sage advice she received from her father when all seemed hopeless in her own relationship.

What interested you in taking this role in Indivisible?

When I read the script, I saw my own marriage playing out on its pages of the other relationship between Darren and Heather.  I wanted to tell a story that really resonated deeply with my own story. My husband and I went through a really dark time. It was pretty early on in our marriage. We were a few years into it before we had kids and got to a place where I really didn't know if we would stay together. We were encouraged by family members and friends to go into counseling, and we did. And so many of the things that were holding us back from being able to love one another were revealed in that room. There was an incredible healing that happened there. We came out the other side of counseling so much stronger and so much more in love. I guess I just always wanted to tell a story about the beautiful redemption and hope that comes from working really hard and fighting for your marriage. That's what drew me to this.

From your perspective, why does the Indivisible story need to be told? What is the heart of this movie?

The heart is what do we do with the problem of pain? For me, I just think it's relevant because anybody, no matter what type of intimate relationship you are in, we all go through dark periods of time. We all experience pain in our lives. What this movie reveals is the great hope that's found when you expand your understanding of who God is and recognize that He actually can still be doing something good in the midst of pain. I think that's relevant. I think that resonates, not just with necessarily a faith audience but also with a wider audience. I also think it resonates because with this movie, what I'm hearing from people who've gone to see it is that it's given them a profound empathy and respect for what the military goes through and what their families especially go through. They give themselves to this greater calling. And I think it's important that we all recognize what they're sacrificing on our behalf as well.

Like so many couples, I’m sure that the Turners were very well intentioned when they got married.  He was even serving God as an Army chaplain.  But sometimes priorities, pressures, and certain circumstances in life can take a person and a marriage in a completely different direction.  Could you comment on that a bit?

That's exactly what happened. They had a really strong foundation. He went out to serve other people but the pain of life hit them so hard that they were lost. They lost their footing a bit and, and really came to a place where they felt hopeless in their relationship, both with one another. But I think Darren also got to a place where his faith was really shaken, where he couldn't understand how a good God could allow so much pain and suffering to happen. What they had to work through was real and deep. I think a lot of people can resonate with that. It's an incredibly powerful story of hope when hope feels lost. I know when I was in the pit of despair in my own marriage, I called my dad and he said, ‘You know, just because something feels hopeless doesn't mean that it is hopeless.’ In the Turner’s story, they really hit a moment, a deep, dark moment where they feel like all hope is lost. The beautiful truth of their story and this movie is that even in your darkest moments, when you feel like all hope is lost, you just have to ask for help. And just because something feels hopeless doesn't mean that it is hopeless.

I'm glad you mentioned that about your dad saying that to you.  It supports the notion that it is always a good idea to surround yourself with the wise counsel of others when battling through problems in your marriage.  Why is this important?

I think we can't see clearly when we're in the pit of despair. We can't see the forest for the trees. We’re only present in our own pain. And, I think that translates beyond just marriage. It’s also part of what it feels like as humans experiencing pain in life. Any opportunity that you can have in your community and people who you trust to really know you and really see you …who've been with you in your relationships, in your marriage to come alongside of you and say this is worth fighting for. It won't always feel this way. At least give it a shot. That counsel from my dad was what started my husband and I on a path that really led to healing for us. In our particular scenario, so many of the things that were holding us back from loving one another really were able to be resolved in the counseling sessions. If I had walked away, I wouldn't have had the opportunity to grow in the ways that I grew. I probably would have brought a lot of the same insecurities and the baggage I was carrying into whatever the next relationship was. It was a powerful opportunity to grow not only together as a couple but also individually as humans to just have our hearts expand and to be able to say the things that were holding us back from being able to love one another. Also, our community got better. I'm very grateful for the counsel that my dad provided.

Darren & Heather are prime examples that sometimes spouses are unwilling to show their “cracks” or weaknesses to the other for fear of losing credibility with their partner.  Why do you think that is?

In Darren's case, he’s trying to protect her from everything that he experienced (at war), but he also feels like he's supposed to be strong. He's supposed to be a soldier in more ways than one. He supposed to care for his family and provide for his family and be an example. It's terrifying to admit that you need help. And I think that's really what we dive into in this film too. There is a lot of shame. And I find also, at least this was my experience, especially in the Christian community, there's shame in admitting that I don't have it all together and that I can't fix this on my own. Once you can release yourself from that shame and realize I am in desperate need of help, then healing can begin. But so often it's so hard to get past the shame of that. Even though we shouldn't feel shame for it. No one's going to be perfect. We were meant to live in community and to be people who need. We're not meant to have it all together.  I think that what begins the healing process in their marriage is when he's able to say out loud … I feel like I've failed you and I'm so ashamed that I couldn't keep it all together. All she wants is honesty from him. She doesn't need him to be perfect. But that's the thing, that's what the big breakdown of communication is. He doesn't know how to tell her that he's not perfect and she feels shut out because he won't talk to her.  All she wanted him to do is talk to her. And as soon as he started talking to her she couldn't handle him. She doesn't mind it not being perfect. And I think if we could kind of admit our weaknesses and our cracks to one another, the healing can begin so much faster.

After people see the movie Indivisible, from your perspective what do you want audiences to take away from the viewing experience?  What is your greatest hope for the movie?

My greatest hope is that this film would start conversations that maybe people are having a hard time beginning in their own relationships.  I want people to feel a sense of hope when hope feels lost. It's different than in other movies because we're not just telling a story. We're hoping to actually reach in and start a healing process. From the reactions we've been getting from people coming out of the movie theaters and even some of the mainstream reviews, I feel like people are experiencing the film in that way. We just hope more and more people will get the opportunity to see it.

Watch a trailer for Indivisible, now playing in theaters nationwide:

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