I feel as though I must talk to someone about a movie I recently watched. It was a motion picture which, on the surface, seemed to hold little promise of capturing my interest and attention. After watching but only several minutes of the film I was tempted to turn it off but for some reason, I continued to watch. As the plot unfolded I realized that the main character and I were in many ways very similar.
The pained man in the story was suffering through the loss of his young daughter. She had been brutally murdered and he was, as one might expect, having difficulty dealing with the loss. His family, a wife, a son and a daughter, wanted to help but he had become so very distant from them; what was there for anyone to do?
The grief-stricken father believed that life was not worth living and all had been lost. He cast the blame for his loss on the one person who he blamed the most, God. Why had God been so cruel as to allow his innocent daughter to die? In the young man’s mind, there could be no reason for an all-seeing deity to allow someone to murder his beautiful child. I will freely admit that I empathized with the character and his opinion of the seemingly flawed almighty.
You see, I too have questioned God’s motives. Why would a God who so very many people believe in allow the tragedies that have been a part of my life to occur? I have questioned the existence of a higher power as a means to explain the lack of intervention in life’s events for if he exists, if he created everything I see before me, alas he doesn’t care about those who have suffered so much; and he doesn’t care about me.
With so many obvious sinners living among us, why had God allowed such good and loving people to die? There were other questions to be answered as well. If there is a God, why did he love some but not others; why didn’t he love me?
As the movie plot unfolded the murdered child’s father tells of his concerns over his perceived flaws with God; the flaws I have described as being mine as well. He needed an explanation for the unfolding events in his life, for the death of his child and for God’s apparent apathy.
I continued to watch the movie. There was no way I could look away from the screen as it seemed as if in many ways the character’s thoughts, opinions and questions mirrored those of mine. I began to feel as though the story’s author could have written a story about me; A story which had been lived and told by me.
A series of lessons were presented to the father, all of which were designed to change his opinion of life, the death of his daughter and God. However, I found it interesting and completely in line with my own thoughts, that he could at any time reject the ideas offered to him. What was the meaning of God and why did he exist?
Some of the storyline dealt with the issue of forgiveness for those who have in some way wronged us. I find that forgiveness is a quality which must be hidden deep within me. I have, throughout my life, forgiven people just as I have myself been forgiven but it’s hard. I guess that virtue lives so very deep within me that it rarely comes to the surface. Forgiveness of God’s perceived inattention has been one of those things which has been buried deep inside me.
As the movie nears its end, the main character finds that he has had little understanding of the true nature of God. He learns that life is, in fact, worth living and he can find a place in it for himself. The father and husband finds that he can love his family and accept what has happened. He can overcome his loss and live.
Most of all, the man discovers that God is incapable of not showing love to all the people of this earth. He realizes that no matter what happens God still loves him and feels his pain but God doesn’t, and won’t, intervene in every facet of his, or any other persons, life. The life given to him is his to live.
I find that I am often overly critical about many things, however I am not a movie critic and have no desire to become one. I have never been a particularly religious minded individual and I guess the last time I attended a church service was as a small child. I have often contended that passing through the doors of a building with a cross atop the roof would in no way make me a better person. It is in no way my intent to offend those who count themselves among the worshippers of any particular church; I am merely stating my personal opinion and you are, of course, free to disagree with it.
When the movie came to its conclusion I found myself asking two questions; ones which I had not before considered. Did God exist and if so did he suffer alongside me through my hardships? Oh yes, did God love me no matter what I had done and regardless of who I was? Was the true meaning of God so very simple as to be nothing more than the knowledge that when we are in pain there is someone who loves us so very much; I hope that is the true meaning of God because that may be one I can eventually accept.
This story is somewhat less in length than others I have written. I suppose, and quite sincerely hope, that I have come directly to the point. I often conceal the real meaning of my writings deep within the words, sentences and pages of the works but not this time.
The movie was just that, a movie. It didn’t give birth to an epiphany or provide substantive answers to questions I have but it did give me cause to think; a reason to reconsider my position. Maybe that is all anyone can ask for in life.
The French have a phrase which I should remind myself of more often. The words seem to most accurately and succinctly describe all that I have experienced. “C’est la vie;” that’s life.
Oh yeah, the title of the movie is, “The Shack.”