Friday, August 13, 2010

Seven Pounds...

Have you ever seen the movie Seven Pounds? It stars Will Smith. Evidently, his character was involved in a car accident. His fiance, and 6 other people on another vehicle died. Was the car accident his fault? Well, he did briefly look down at a text message on his phone. How many of us have not done that? So, fault? Accident? He narrates near the beginning: “In 7 days God created the entire world. In 7 seconds I shattered mine.”
Anyway, Will Smith’s character cannot forgive himself for his “crime.” His grief, sorrow, and pain are palpable in this movie. He takes it upon himself to exact what he apparently believes is a just punishment for his “crime.” He takes it upon himself to painstakingly seek out 7 people’s lives he can literally save with a piece of himself. A lung, part of his liver, a kidney, bone marrow… his heart… his eyes. Seven pounds of flesh he exacts from himself to pay penance for the unfortunate accident he cannot forgive himself for.
Is this post a movie review? No. It is a musing on a part of the human condition many of us share. We extend grace to others… but not ourselves. We strive to forgive others… and yet forgiving ourselves is the hardest task to follow through on. We transgress somehow–against some part of our own code that we hold ourselves to or that someone else has held us to.
I exact a pound of flesh from myself every time I let myself down. I am weary of how graceless I have been with myself. Ironically, it is usually, when I do seem to get to a place where I believe I “deserve” to be treated better, or to treat myself better–someone will come along and shove their version of my falling short down my throat. Why am I vulnerable to that? Well, I am sure that my ultra conservative Christian upbringing and my “swing 1st and ask questions later” father contributed to my vulnerabilities in this area.
Nonetheless, I desire to live a more grace filled life. To exact fewer pounds from myself. And maybe, just maybe, in the balance of things I will actually get more out of myself by being kind and loving and nurturing to myself. It’s worth a try! Hey, punishing myself certainly has not brought the lasting changes or born the long term fruit in my life.
Near the end of the movie, Will Smith’s character says to the woman he is becoming close to (a woman who is dying of congenital heart failure, and will--unbeknownst to her--be the recipient of his heart), “I haven’t taken very good care of myself in the last few years.” She replies… “start now.”

I would like to.
“Why is it that God is so willing to forgive us yet so many times we are unable to forgive ourselves? Sometimes, we need to act in a more Godly way towards ourselves.” (Elmer Laydon)