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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Paper Beats Rock (Forrest Gump style)

Tonight, after dinner, we flipped through the channels looking for something besides the ridiculous number of reality shows to watch. We hit VH1 in the cycle and "Forrest Gump" was on. I've seen this movie dozens of times. It is truly one of the best movies ever made. At my wedding, when the videographer walked around to our guests and asked for wishes, my Daddy looked at the camera and said, "Don't forget how to get back to Greenbow." I'm from Alabama, like Forrest, so Daddy's statement made me belly laugh.

When we landed on "Forrest Gump" tonight, we didn't hesitate to join in at whatever point we'd caught the movie. As a family, we've seen it so many times we can quote it. My son loves the line, "I'm Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump." But tonight one of the quotes hit me for the first time. That's the thing about watching great movies more than once. You know it so well that the next time you watch it, you notice some incredible, intelligent nuance and you appreciate its genius.

We happened on the scene in which Jenny and Forrest take a walk and end up at her childhood home. It's never stated, but implied, that Jenny was horribly abused by her father. When they stumble onto the house, Jenny's face morphs. What had been a joyful walk between lifetime friends abruptly ends. Jenny sees the dilapidated house and begins picking up stones. One by one she throws them at the house. Most of them barely have an impact. Then, one breaks a window. She falls to her knees, covered in the dirt of her Southern home, and sobs. Forrest says, "Some times, there just aren't enough rocks."

An intricate part of being human is pain. We experience it physically, relationally, sexually, psychologically, even spiritually. When we're hurting, we lash out. We use our words like Jenny's rocks. Honed to hit a crucial spot that we hope will create the most damage possible. We say things we don't mean. We dig up the smallest infractions from the past to justify our feelings. Oftentimes, we wait years to give voice to them. Holding them inside and clinging to them as justification for our choices. But at some point, they become uncontainable. With each toss, we release part of what hurts us the deepest. We pick up stones and hurl them hoping that we feel better by simultaneously hurting the one who hurt us.

But in the end, the effort isn't worth it. Just like Jenny's childhood home, most of the anger projected doesn't make an impact. We expend our energy, our heart, and pieces of ourselves to simply scream into a void. Just like Jenny, we're throwing stones at an old, dilapidated house that no one lives in or even cares about any more. Sometimes, there simply aren't enough rocks.

So instead of expending energy throwing rocks, why don't we focus on laying paper. Because paper beats rock. Layers of paper in the form of forgiveness, acceptance, tolerance, grace, and love. Instead of picking up the painful stones, let's shroud them in the best parts of ourselves. While acknowledging the rocks, let's choose to defeat them with layers that both cover them and allow a blank slate.

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