I love 80’s movies. Seriously. I can’t get enough of them. The Richies, the Rebels, the Troubled Boy, and The Best Friend Who Is – Duh! – The Love Of Your Life. Oh, and of course the Kids From the Wrong Side of the Tracks – so beautifully and literally portrayed in Some Kind of Wonderful. (Oh, Amanda Jones. One day those diamonds will be yours.)
My favorite part? The speech and slow clap, of course. The best example of this is in Can’t Buy Me Love, when Ronald Donald McDreamy lets everyone know what’s up. (Although, he calls the Lunch Area a Cafeteria. I don’t want to argue with a Hollywood Screen Writer, but I always imagine a cafeteria to be an indoor location. Not outside in the blistering Tucson sun. Which, thinking about it, why would they eat outside so much? I’m going to stop with this line of thinking because I don’t want to go down the dangerous road of analyzing the plausibility of these movies. Instead I’ll go watch that moment when Keith realizes that Watts, not Amanda, is his soulmate. Whew. Crisis averted.)
The awesome speeches didn’t always come with the slow clap. Think about when we hear the bold essay that Farmer Ted the Brain Brian wrote in the Breakfast Club. I mean, those words being spoken behind the image of Judd Nelson, with his new diamond, hitting the air with the Leather Glove of Rebellion? Boom. Masterpiece.
But although those speeches are inspiring and can make you stop and examine your entire life, sometimes the movie makers (fine, John Hughes) were a bit more subtle. One or two sentences was all that it took. Pretty in Pink: “I always believed in you. I just didn’t believe in me.” Although I’m firmly on Team Duckie (He didn’t care if she liked him because he lived to like her. Come on! Wake up, Andie.), I have to admit that’s a pretty good speech.
In my own, real life, there have been a few speeches that have had a profound impact. Well, not really speeches, actually. More like sentences. Things that people have said to me that were the exact things I needed to hear at the exact time I needed to hear them.
No clapping. No soundtrack. No taffeta prom dresses swaying in the background.
Just real life. Real people. Real talk.
And it wasn’t necessarily the words themselves, but the message behind the words that made the difference.
The first one? Twenty years ago. The words? You know who you really are, so go be that crazy person.
This message was delivered by someone who knew me very well, and who had every right to not be so nice to me. But rather than being jaded by past hurts and my poor choices, this person instead realized I was hurting. Realized I was being mistreated. And helped me understand that I didn’t have to accept the abuse I was enduring and didn’t have to believe the lies I was being told. This person gave me the courage to walk away from danger, start over, and eventually begin the awesome adventure that my life has been.
I’ll never forget those words.
The next one? Six weeks ago. The words? I’ll walk this road with you. Every step.
I have been working in ministry for seventeen years, and in that time I have told a lot of people those same words. But accepting those words? Not so much. I’ve had people offer before, but I’ve never been brave enough to accept the offer from anyone outside of my family. But this time it’s different. This time the speaker saw through my, “I’m okay” and “I’ll be fine”. The speaker saw me at a very real and vulnerable point, and not only said, “I accept you in your brokenness”, but “I’ll stand with you in your brokenness.”
I’ll also never forget those words.
And the final one? A week ago. The words? What are you writing?
Now, it’s not like the person who asked this is looking for something to read. I mean, this person just posted a C.S. Lewis quote a few days ago. There are no shortage of words floating around. But this person is also a writer, and understands that when you’re a writer, you have to write. It’s how you process your emotions, how you make sense of what’s going on around you. By asking me this simple question, the person was saying, “Don’t run. Don’t avoid. Face it. Face what you’re dealing with. Admit what you’re struggling with. Celebrate what you need to celebrate. Don’t be afraid to put it out there. Don’t be afraid of your thoughts.”
And those words? Well, they won’t be forgotten either. One, because I get it. But two, because this person is the type of friend who isn’t afraid to challenge me. Isn’t afraid to ask me the questions that I need to hear, isn’t afraid to say the words that make me close my email, walk away, and then come back when I’m ready to listen.
You know, it’s easy to get overwhelmed at things that are happening around us. And it’s easy to forget the promise that Jesus is with always with us.
But as I look back at those speeches/conversations/sentences/questions that have changed my life, I see Jesus.
Looking back twenty years ago, I see Jesus, through my friend, telling me that although I’ve messed up, and although I’m not perfect, I am forgiven and I am loved.
Looking back six weeks ago, I see Jesus, through my friend, saying that I am not alone. In my weakness He is strong. And my pain is not repulsive.
And looking back a week ago, I see Jesus, through my friend, saying, “Don’t run. Don’t fight. Just stay. Face it and rejoice in it, because I’m here.”
“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” Proverbs 16:24
See you soon.