Dear Evan Hansen


So, about five months ago my friend Allen recommended the movie Dear Evan Hansen to me. He described it as a “hard, beautiful, tragic, victorious movie of the hidden struggles we all face,” and he had “cried his way through it three times.” I had never seen it but had heard a little about it and knew it was based on a...

Dear Evan Hansen

Rated PG13

Directed by Steven Chbosky

Starring Ben Platt, Amy Adams, Julianne Moore

*(this movie has themes of intense mental health issues such as depression and suicide, could be triggering)

Opening Thoughts

So, about five months ago my friend Allen recommended the movie Dear Evan Hansen to me. He described it as a “hard, beautiful, tragic, victorious movie of the hidden struggles we all face,” and he had “cried his way through it three times.” I had never seen it but had heard a little about it and knew it was based on a musical. Allen’s a great friend who loves movies, and I trust his judgment, so I put it on my watch list. SPOILERS BELOW.

Fast forward to mid-July. It’s an airy Sunday afternoon. My roommate is away on vacation, and I have a few leisurely hours to spend as I choose. So I figure, hey, maybe I’ll check out that Evan Hansen movie Allen was telling me about that time.  


Now, first off, I want to clarify, watching the movie itself wasn’t a huge mistake, nor was Allen recommending the movie. The movie was everything he said and had a really great soundtrack and songs, too. I didn’t even have a problem like most people did with a 27-year-old Ben Platt playing an 18-year-old Evan Hansen, after about 10 minutes I forgot his age because he was ALL the emotions and he did it quite well. I thank Allen for his recommendation 😊


If I had watched this movie when he first recommended it back in March, or even six months from now, I might have done better. My mistake was watching this movie six weeks after my mother died, and I was already fra-gee-lay with my emotions. 

(Allen, if you’re reading this, clearly you have no control over how a movie is going to affect me, especially a month and a half after my mother has died when I’m still on an emo rollercoaster. Please continue to recommend movies to me!)

When I say this movie destroyed me, I’m not even coming close. This movie shattered me, ravaged me. This movie practically DEVASTATED me. 

I started off watching the movie in the living room and an hour in, when my tears were no longer running down my face but spurting horizontally out of my eyes like one of those joke flowers that squirts water, I moved to my bedroom where I watched the rest in a nest of pillows, slimy tissues, and Ben and Jerry’s. I wasn’t just ugly crying, I was hideously, grotesquely, Elephant-Man-ugly crying. The movie is two hours and fifteen minutes long, and it took me at least 3 hours to watch it because I had to keep pausing it to pull myself together so I could keep going. When the movie was over, my face was all puffy like I’d had a bad allergic reaction to peanuts or something. I’d been crying so hard my eyes were almost swollen shut, and I’d given myself a headache from sobbing. I had to watch some episodes of CinemaSins afterwards to shake it off. 

So, yeah, the movie’s kinda sad in parts. 


Dear Evan Hansen is about a high school senior who struggles with mental health issues such as depression, social anxiety, and, we find out later, suicidal thoughts. His overworked mother attempts to be supportive, and his therapist has given him an assignment to write himself a letter as a kind of pep talk. Unfortunately, Evan’s letter is stolen off the school printer by another teen, Connor, who has been harassing him. Later, Evan finds out that Connor himself has committed suicide when Connor’s parents find Evan’s letter in his pocket and seek him out, assuming that the two were friends. 

Connor’s parents and sister Zoe (whom Evan has a crush on) have dealt with Connor’s own mental health issues for years, and are reaching out for any kind of comfort they can find. Evan, recognizing this, can’t bring himself to tell them the truth and shatter their last hope, so he lies and tells them all kinds of stories about how he and Connor were the best of friends. 

Evan’s lies get bigger and bigger and spiral out of control, until he finally confesses not just to Evan’s family, but to everyone at his school and the entire world via social media, that he lied. Evan’s own suicide attempt is revealed, and he decides to take a year off before pursuing college to repair his relationship with his mom and to take some time for himself. The movie ends on a hopeful note.

So What Did God Show Me?

(I want to insert here that while I was a youth mentor in the past, I am not a licensed therapist or any kind of mental health practitioner, and I can’t give you any advice on your mental health issues you may have except to seek help from a professional. All I can do is share my own experiences and how I dealt with them, but I encourage you to get help, especially if you feel like hurting yourself. The National Suicide and Crisis lifeline number is 988)

-There was a lot I could relate to in this movie. I was bullied a lot in school growing up, and I thank God that it was in the days before the internet and social media, because I have heard so many horror stories from the youth I used to mentor, and it just makes me shudder. Feeling invisible (or worse, feeling overly visible), feeling like nothing you say or do matters, feeling like everyone thinks you’re a weirdo, and that you can’t do anything right…all of that I could relate to. But, like Evan sings later, you’re not alone. You’re never alone. All of you out there reading this right now, what you are feeling, as lonely and painful as it may feel, is not unique to you. You are not the only one to ever feel humiliation so intense it makes you want to throw up, dread so deep it makes your body go numb, and anxiety so severe it’s crippling. I’ve felt all of those things, and all of those things suck, hugely. But you are not the only one to ever feel those things, so don’t believe the lie that there’s something wrong with you because you’re feeling those things. And maybe that doesn’t make your situation better, or make you feel better, but I hope it makes you feel less alone. Like Alana says to Evan about the ones she calls “The Anonymous Ones”, “There are a lot of people who feel like us. People that you wouldn’t think.” and “But what if everybody’s secret is, they have that secret side? And to know they’re somehow not alone, well, that’s all they’re hoping for.”

-When Evan is writing his first letter at the beginning of the movie and worrying about what to say, I TOTALLY got that vibe. To this day, I still know that feeling of going over sentences a million times in your head (this is times 10 if you’re also a writer), changing nuances and shading meaning to try to get just the RIGHT phrase that would make people laugh, that would make people like you, that would make you look like NOT a weirdo. God has done much healing in me, but I still struggle like this sometimes, especially when I meet new people, and especially especially when I want to make a good impression on those new people.

-I totally get why Evan lied to help Connor’s parents. I’ve always been an empathetic person and it’s so hard for me to see people, especially people that I love, in pain and not be able to do anything about it. Connor’s parents were so sad, hurting so much, and Evan knew what it felt like to be in so much pain. They were reaching out to him, HIM, for help. Had anyone ever reached out to him for help before? He hadn’t been able to help himself with his own pain, but he could help him with theirs. I think that’s why he justified the lies, to help them, to help take away their pain, to give them some kind of hope, in the only way he knew how. I think he just couldn’t bear to see any more hurt in the world, even if he knew it couldn’t last forever. It wasn’t the best choice he could have made. But what would you have done, seeing someone in pain, so desperate for hope, just a shred of hope? We need hope as human beings. We need hope to go on, to survive. So Evan gave them hope in the only way he could think of. And in return, the Murphys accepted and celebrated him in a way he had never known or experienced before. He was praised, and cherished, and beloved. What must that have felt like for him, as someone always “waving from a window?”

-During the song “For Forever” when Evan is inventing a “perfect day” he supposedly spent with Connor, I felt like this song is describing everything he’d like to do with the best friend he never had. As he was singing, I kept picturing Jesus doing all of those things with Evan. I love how He knows the things we love, and what we love to do, what we find beautiful, what we like to do for fun, what we find funny, what brings us peace, because we were meant to experience ALL of those things WITH Him. I encourage you to “just talk and take in the view” with Him sometime…

-When Evan is struggling to read his prepared speech at Evan’s memorial service, and he screws it up and knocks over the microphone, I was absolutely cringing. In every theatrical production I was a part of, starting in third grade up through high school, I managed to do some goof or faux pas in front of everyone. Some of them probably weren’t even noticed, but to me, they were gigantic screwups so bad I wanted to jump off the stage into the orchestra pit and never show my face again. As far as I was concerned, the whole production would have been perfect if not for me, and I had just ruined the whole thing because I almost knocked a set piece over or flubbed my line. (I do have a terrific home video of me goofing up an Irish jig during a St Patrick’s Day show in 8th grade. Oh yeah, FOR THE WIN!) When Evan sees Mrs. Murphy’s face smiling at him, and he realizes that no matter how stupid he looks to everyone else, what a loser and a failure he is coming off as, she doesn’t see him that way. She believes in him, and he is inspired to go on and give a heartwarming rendition of what a good “friend” Connor was to him, and how none of us are alone. Again, I imagined God looking at us that way when we screw up and are feeling just horrible and hating ourselves, because, geez, can’t we do ANYTHING right?? And God’s looking at us with that beautiful smile that says, “You’re my son. You’re my daughter. You got this. You keep your eyes on Me and don’t look at anyone else. I’m here. I’m right here for you. Go on.” Because He is, you know.

-When Evan is telling his mom about his suicide attempt. “Do you hate me now? You should. You should, if you knew who I am, just how broken I am.” “I already know you, and I love you.” How many times have we hidden away our “broken parts” from God, thinking that He would hate us and never love us as we are, never realizing fully that He sees us and every shameful thing we try to hide, completely and wholly as we are. He loves our broken parts, every last one. There is no hate in Him towards us at all, ever, and we are so incredibly precious and dear to Him, just as we are, and especially in our brokenness.

-When Evan writes his last letter, I love how Evan finally accepts himself where he is, imperfect, but himself, and that’s enough.

"Today is going to be a good day and here’s why. Because today, no matter what else, today at least… you’re you. No hiding, no lying. And that’s… that’s enough. So no matter how hard it gets, even if it feels…impossible, this time you’ll know. Don’t let go. Just hold on and keep going. Just keep going.”

I used to tell my mentoring clients that when things got “too much”, and they didn’t think they could keep going, to “break it down”, which means if they were struggling so much they didn’t think they could make it through another day, then try to make it through the next hour. If that still felt like too long, make it through the next 10 minutes. To just keep breaking it down until they felt they could handle it. Friends, one of the biggest lies we are fed is that how we are feeling at the moment is how we are going to feel forever. That things will never get better, never going to get easier, that we’ll never feel happy again, we’ll always feel sad, we’ll never heal, we’ll never stop feeling pain. That is just not true. Sure, it can FEEL true, I know from experience, lots of experience, trust me. Life is not static, you are not deadlocked where you are. Things change, many times in ways we can’t see or detect immediately. But they do change. So hang on, wait a while, and whatever you do, just don’t let go.

“You Will Be Found”

Have you ever felt like nobody was there?

Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?

Have you ever felt like you could disappear?

Like you could fall, and no one would hear?

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away

Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay

‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand

You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, Someone will coming running

And I know, They’ll take you home

Even when the dark comes crashing through

When you need a Friend to carry you

And when you’re broken on the ground

You will be found

So let the sun come streaming in

‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again

Lift your head and look around

You will be found

There’s a place where we don’t have to feel unknown

And every time that you call out

You’re a little less alone

If you only say the word

From across the silence your voice is heard

Share it with the people you love

Even when the dark comes crashing through

When you need a Friend to carry you

When you’re broken on the ground

You will be found

So let the sun come streaming in

‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again

If you only look around

You will be found 

Out of the shadows

The morning is breaking

And all is new, all is new

It’s filling up the empty

And suddenly I see that

All is new, all is new

You are not alone

Even when the dark comes crashin’ through

When you need Someone to carry you

When you’re broken on the ground

You will be found!

So when the sun comes streaming in

‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again

If you only look around

You will be found

Songwriters: Benj Pasek / Justin Paul

You Will Be Found lyrics © Pick In A Pinch Music, Breathelike Music

(Capitalizations are my own)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie, what God showed you, what you would do “For Forever” with Jesus, ways that you have overcome, or how we can encourage you if you haven’t quite reached that overcoming yet! Don’t be an Anonymous One. Leave a comment below, hold out your hand, and you will be found. 🙂


One Response

  1. Your heart is so beautiful Sara! I doubt I will ever watch this movie. I started seeing shrinks when I was 12, was hospitalized at age 20 and discharged on five medication‘s. None of it did a thing to help me until I met Jesus. He truly is all we need! Thank you for seeing and pointing to God and all you do!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *