I am one of those people who cries during movies. I am not quite sure if it works to put people into categories based on whether or not movies make them cry, but if there was a category for people who have been known to cry during movies, I would be in it.
Most people who have watched enough movies are bound to eventually see one that brings them to tears. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about whether or not a person cries during a movie, but I do find it fascinating to consider what it is about movies that tends to lead to an emotional response.
Recently I watched the movie Hamilton for the second time. I am pretty sure I cried a few times the first time I watched it, and even though I already knew the story, I cried again the second time. What is it about movies, about powerful stories even, that makes me cry?
Have you ever cried during a movie? Can you remember what was happening in the story that made you cry? Seriously, take a moment and think about this question. I am curious to know if your experience is at all similar to mine. Because after watching Hamilton, and noticing the part that most made me cry, I have a theory.
My theory is this: the most powerful part of any movie or story almost always has something to do with forgiveness.
If you haven't seen Hamilton (slight bit of a spoiler alert - you may want to skip this paragraph), I won't attempt to relay the entire story here, but I will tell about the moment that hit me the deepest. At one point, Alexander Hamilton has been estranged from his wife because of his own foolish choices. But after they lose their son and are both facing very real grief together, there is a song called It’s Quiet Uptown during which he asks her to forgive him, and at the end, she takes his hand and they are reunited. The depth of emotion conveyed in this song, along with the power of forgiveness, is incredibly moving.
It is indeed sad to watch or listen to a story in which someone is grieving a devastating loss, and when you allow yourself to relate to that experience, it can definitely affect your emotions, whether that looks like crying or some other type of response.
But when I compare the response I have to a really hard situation that leads to sadness with one in which real forgiveness is offered, it is often the latter story that moves me in an even deeper way. Of course many times stories have elements of both sadness and forgiveness, but I am struck by the unique power of forgiveness in the human experience.
Anne Lamott says, "Earth is forgiveness school. It begins with forgiving yourself — then you might as well start at the dinner table." As human beings who live with other human beings, it is impossible for us to ever escape the need for forgiveness. One day we need to give it, the next day we need to receive it, and some days we need both.
In one of Toby Mac's songs (Forgiveness), he sings these lines:
'Cause we all make mistakes sometimes And we've all stepped across that line But nothing's sweeter than the day we find Forgiveness, forgiveness
I think there is a part of me that secretly hopes maybe one of these days I'll just be done needing to either get or give forgiveness. I can sometimes find myself frustrated that I've messed up, again. Or that someone else has hurt me, again. Can't we just all have this figured out once and for all?
The reality, though, is that the only "once and for all" part of forgiveness is the part about Jesus forgiving me. He has taken the payment for all my sins and the sins of the whole world. And the reason He needed to do it once for all is because the need will always be there. As long as I'm living on earth, I am going to continually need forgiveness. And so will everyone around me.
The good news, as we know, is that we have it. It's a gift and it's ours to give - to ourselves and to each other. The trick is to remember it. Let's not grow weary of learning in this school of forgiveness. Let's ask God to help us grow to become people who daily live out the call to forgive, even as we are forgiven.
*I'm thrilled to begin sharing this blog with the West-Mont Christian community in addition to the BCS community. BCS and WCA have been partnering together in many aspects of school life for years, and recently the schools formed a brand new district together. The prayer ministry is just one area in which the schools will be coming together under one larger umbrella, and our hope is that all who have been praying for BCS will continue to pray and will welcome members of the WCA community to come alongside us and join in praying. While there will be differing needs for both schools, we can be united in our overarching goals of seeing God's Kingdom come, asking for His will to be done in and through both BCS and WCA.
Pray with me...
... that all of us in the BCS/WCA community can comprehend and fully accept God's forgiveness Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22
... for us to forgive one another Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
... that God would use BCS/WCA to share His love and the power of forgiveness with the world around us But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 2 Corinthians 2:14
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory
~ Carrie Warner, BCS/WCA Prayer Team Coordinator
Note: The piece of art below - Beauty for Ashes - was created by one of this year’s chapel speakers (and a good friend of mine), Terri Witmyer. She took pieces of literal junk and turned them into this picture of hope and joy using a variety of art mediums. To me, it is a powerful picture of what forgiveness can do in our lives.