As I did last summer, I had the opportunity to go see a movie with the kids at summer camp. This year the movie was The Lorax. I'm not going to review the film, just give some of my thoughts. I have heard a lot about the movie being a bit of "environmentalist propaganda." My brain tends to work differently than most folks (whether that's a good thing is open to debate), so I came away with some different thoughts.
What I saw was a tale of unintended consequences faced by someone who was not trying to do bad things, but got caught up in things that quickly spiraled out of control. The character named The Once-Ler started out trying to make a name for himself with his invention. He seemed to be a good person and was simply trying to better himself. After the initial tree was cut down, he was willing to change his ways and harvest material from the trees without doing them harm. He was willing to think of others. Then, his family came along. The family which had never accepted him, which had always told him that he was a failure, a disappointment. The matriarch moves right in and shames her son into doing what he had promised not to do - cut down the trees. Things quickly went from bad to worse, and in due course all the trees were eliminated.
I see some things in this tale that ring true in real life. Many of our problems, especially in relationships, are caused by us doing things that have unintended consequences. Sometimes we will do or say something that is intended to help someone, and the opposite will happen. Sometimes this is because we don't know how to say or do it the correct way, sometimes it is because the other person is not ready. Eventually things are said that cut deeply, and soon, things deteriorate to the point where great damage is done to all involved. You could say all the trees are cut down. Unfortunately, this happens in churches as much as, or maybe more, than it happens in the general population.
Like Once-Ler, we many times act out of things in our past. Good things can affect us, and so can negative things. Unfortunately, many of us have wounds from our past that we have simply covered up and not allowed to heal. We do things to try and win the approval of others, or to "show them." Sometimes, buried hurts rise up and cause us to hurt others. Sometimes, we are driven because someone once told us we were not good enough, or did not accept us. Many times those past experiences can get such a hold on us that it seems like things are out of control. We think, "I'm not bad," and we're right. We've just been caught up in things that have overwhelmed us. Don't think that I'm saying that a Christian never sins. We do, but it's not because we're bad people. It's because sin, which is still hanging around in us, takes advantage of things that we often don't realize are there and causes us to act in ways that are contradictory to who we are as God's children. Before we realize it, things have gotten out of control and are damaged seemingly beyond repair.
In his book, Life of the Beloved, Henri Nouwen writes, "It is only when we have claimed our own place in God's love that we can experience this all-embracing, noncomparing love and feel safe, not only with God, but also with all our brothers and sisters." The key is fully accepting and claiming the love of our Father and trusting him to redeem our past and present mistakes, and to heal and restore us.
At the end of the film, Once-Ler redeems himself by giving the last seed to a young man who wants a tree. The seed is planted and things are made right once again. As children of God, we can have hope that one day all will be restored when Jesus returns. Possibly, God will redeem our situations in this life.
May we fully receive the Father's love and grace in all areas of our lives.