Friday, February 6, 2009

Forrest Gump, Monk and Me

I watched Forrest Gump today. Think its the 6th time or so, but this time was sort of brutal. Oh - I know - the whole movie is fairly brutal when you get down to it, but I mean do you know what jumped up and slapped me as I was watching, catching me completely off-guard?

It was the part where Forrest walks in to find his mother dying: "She had got the cancer," says Gump, "and died on a Tuesday." - and suddenly my mother's death AND the first time I saw this movie with my ex-wife came back to me.

I began wailing.

There was no one in the house except my cat and me - it was a good time to do it.

Movies do their job when they touch your heart. Someone ought to write a book on their cathartic nature. I knew what was going on - I was not crying over Forrest's loss as much as I was seeing myself in him - a young man dumbfounded and clueless of how he would live his life without his momma. Tom Hanks, on the accompanying DVD, said, "Forrest believes in three things: God, his momma, and Jenny. He filters everything through those three lenses."

That about sums it up for us Southern boys.

My mother's death - AND my divorce - hit me both full force. My loss and failure as a man. I was a boy acting bigger than I really was.

I had a deeper wound than I realised. And as I write this, this song came on over the radio, on KLOVE:

Sanctus Real - Whatever You’re Doing
From the album We Need Each Other



The line "It feels like chaos, but I believe..." is powerful to men of faith.

You see, it still hurts - but the pain merely proves we are alive and in different circumstances. Things change. They have to. And we can hate that fact and fear it instead of accepting it as - well, as God at work on us.

My landlady, Nancy, who is a second mom to me, and I have recently discovered "Monk" on DVD at the library. The series is in its 7th season, IIRC. Monk, for the uninformed, is a detective with OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder - and he was widowed when his precious understanding wife was killed by a car bomb.

Monk fears every germ, every bit of "ick" that this world produces and is nearly paralyzed by his phobia. But with the help of friends, that same disorder makes him incredibly observant and able to spot inconsistencies at crime scenes, clues other detectives miss. When asked about his nearly superhuman sensitivity, he replies sardonically: "It's a gift ...and a curse."

That's true of so much of life outside the "norm" isn't it?

If Forrest were more intelligent or if Monk were "normal", neither character would interest us - and neither would have gone on their journeys. We appreciate them because of their failings.

You see, I think we all have a mistaken idea that being smart (or smarter) will somehow prevent suffering in a fallen world. It won't. It enhances the pain.

I think we also have the strange idea that everything we appreciate or love that ends is an aberration, not ordained by God. But the Bible says God "declares the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:10). Could it be that we wanted something from them they could not supply indefinitely?

I mean only God can supply indefinitely the things we hunger for - love, fellowship, grace, mercy, etc. We want people to do that, not an invisible deity. I understand that. So did He.

Do you know what cured my anger and rage back in 1995? The voice of Jesus. I heard Him speak so clearly and loudly (I tell everyone it was like someone put a Bose speaker inside of me on volume 10), it put me on my knees. Worship was immediate and beautiful and inevitable.

I don't know if you believe me, and I hate to just repeat what every other evangelical Christian will tell you, but...

...you need Jesus. You need love in a Person who cannot die. Who will never divorce you or cheat on you or call you names. Who will never physically, verbally, or emotionally abuse you.

"Come to Me, all you who are weary. My yoke is easy and my burden is light. You will find rest for your souls."

If you don't understand how true this is - if you are just simply afraid of change or of losing what relationship(s) you have currently - I can only say you are missing the truest love the universe has to offer.

I lost my mother to cancer. My wife? To a divorce.

Jesus? You can't lose Him. Even I, in my anger and unbelief, did not.

From the mouth of Lt. Daniel Taylor:

"All the cripples down at the VFW keep asking me the same thing! Have I found Jesus? Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?!"

"I didn't know we were supposed to be looking for him, suh."


You are, Gump. You are.

Amen.