Monday, November 5, 2007

Fighting Back

I watched Cinderella Man last night. It seems every time I watch that movie I fall more and more in love with it (and Russell Crowe's Jim Braddock-- but that's another story!), and my heart is moved in a deeper, newer way by the truth its myth reveals. As I lay on the sofa last night, I felt my sick, watery eyes (the result of some mystery illness my body has been fighting off for the past few days) fill with hot tears over and over again as Jim Braddock, along with his wife and family, battled for their fairy tale.

Before I started the movie, being the film/acting nerd I am, I watched a portion of the casting featurette in the Special Features section of the DVD. Ron Howard, the director of the movie, talked in the beginning about their short search for an actor to play Jim Braddock, and how it was quickly decided that Crowe would be perfect for the part. Howard then went on to talk about the intricacies of Braddock's story, and how, dubbed the "Cinderella Man" by a reporter, he "was living out a kind of a fairy tale, but it's not that sort of sugar-coated fairy tale, it's more of a Grimm's fairy tale... It's tough to be inside that fairy tale." I was so struck by how true that is. How often do we look at success stories and great victories, and see only the glowing good? When in reality, fairy tales and great successes are often overwhelmingly made up of fierce battles, treacherous journeys, and long, soul-aching times in life's waiting room.

At one point late in the movie, when the hot tears blearing my vision nearly overflowed, Jim is talking to his wife Mae about why he wants and needs to fight. After listening to her pleas against his plans to get back in the ring and box again, Jim looks her in the eye and tries to make her understand his heart. "[In the ring,] at least I know who's hittin' me." Man. How rough it is to feel like you're taking blows with a bag over your head. And how much of life is like that? Spending all this time getting beat up and tossed around without even knowing why or who is hitting you?

I just finished a book called Waking the Dead by John Eldredge, and it has permanently changed my life, spiritually, emotionally, habitually, etc. (Not that that's unusual for any of his books for me...) In it, Eldredge talks about the desperate need in our world for spiritual warfare, and how we as a culture, race, and people have allowed ourselves to be lulled into complacency and surrender, thinking the very war that is beating us down day in and day out isn't happening. My eyes were opened to the millions of fights and battles and sieges that take place every day, and span weeks, months, and years of my life and eternity. It was like my heart woke up and I started realizing that all those terrible things I believed about myself and the world aren't true... They're lies that I've bought into, and I don't have to agree with any more. I realized that terrible things happen in my life because there is an enemy creating and crafting ways to hurt, sabotage, kill, steal, and destroy me every moment. Jesus told us that the enemy "prowls" like "a roaring lion" whose sole purpose is to bring us down-- so why have I been so shocked and surprised when he's actually tried and been successful at doing that? And why haven't I put up more of a fight?

I've never really known what it's like to war for something in my soul before. In the Old Testament in the Bible, God allowed war to come to the Israelites because the new generation had never had to fight for the promise-- and they needed to if they were going to be strong enough to keep the promised land once they made it there. War is here whether we like it or not, and there is a choice: ignore and deny and lay huddled on the ground, taking the blows that will come regardless with a bag over our head, or we can train ourselves for war, look at the enemy who's been hitting us all along, and start to fight back for the good that's ours to claim.

I, for one, choose the latter.

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Hey Jessica! I'm currently reading the same book, and although I just started, already my eyes have also been opened to the nature of so many battles I've been fighting these past couple of decades. Amazing.
I've been keeping up with your blog, keeping you in prayer and rejoicing with you in the many victories of your journey. Love ya!