a little east of reality

Sunday, March 23, 2008

all fridays are good

Maybe we should call it Great Friday instead.

I'm not going to get into a big post on Christian belief or the doctrines surrounding Easter. But I was thinking today about one aspect of the Atonement that I find beautiful and that is the concept of 'hope for redemption'.

There is nothing worse than that feeling that comes when you realise that you've done something terrible and that there's no way you can fix it. You've said something that can't be taken back, broken something precious that can't be replaced, or destroyed someone's trust in you. There's no hope in a feeling like that. Some people feel like that about themselves - that somehow they are so lost, so bad, so defeated, that there isn't any hope left in them to turn things around. They don't believe that they are redeemable.

It reminds me of a particular scene towards the end of Pretty Woman. Edward and Vivian are lying in bed talking about how she came to be a hooker.

Vivian: First guy I ever loved was a total nothing. Second was worse. My mom called me a bum magnet. If there was a bum within a 5-mile radius, I was completely attracted to him. That's how I ended up here. I followed bum number three.
Edward: Oh.
Vivian: So here I was: no money, no friends, no bum.
Edward [Chuckles]: And you chose this as your profession?
Vivian: I worked at a couple fast food places, parked cars at wrestling. And I couldn't make the rent. I was too ashamed to go home. That's when I met Kit. She was a hooker and made it sound so great. So one day I did it. I cried the whole time. But then I got some regulars and, you know... It's not like anybody plans this. It's not your childhood dream.
Edward: You could be so much more.
Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.
Edward: I think you are a very bright, very special woman.
Vivian: The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?
What I love most about that movie (moreso than any other Pygmalion adaptation, though it does keep the basic theme that makes a lady a lady is not how she behaves, but how she is treated) is not that he saves her from a hard life like his character carrying Debra Winger out of the factory in Officer and a Gentleman. It's that he makes her realise that she is worth more than the life she is living. She's not irredeemable because she's a hooker, or because guys left her and didn't treat her right. She just believed all the bad stuff and lost her hope. It isn't enough now for him to hand her a better version of her current life, because she can't live that life any more. She finally understands that she is too precious for that.

I also love how once she knows that she passes it straight on to her friend, Kit. When Kit refuses to come to San Francisco with her, she gives her some money.

Kit: Whoa. Whoa. What is this ?
Vivian: It's part of the Edward Lewis scholarship fund. We think you got a lot of potential, Kit De Luca.
Kit: You do ? You think I got potential ?
Vivian: Oh, yeah. Don't let anybody tell you different, okay ?
Kit: Okay.
People need hope. We all need to understand that second chances exist and that mistakes we make don't define us. Hope in Christ is just one form of that and actually quite a beautiful one - not only the promise that we can be forgiven of our mistakes, but that there is someone who loves us, always, in spite of those mistakes or anything else we might dislike about ourselves. I wish people treated each other that way more often, instead of just seeing it as something God does.

I wish I treated people that way more often. It's something I find easy to do when I'm in a good place myself. It's one of my favourite things about teaching: getting to know students as individuals, helping them to understand that they are interesting and worthwhile people, with potential beyond what they currently see in themselves. But when I'm down or stressed I'm not spreading any hope or joy at all. I know a few people who are great at the whole 'glass is half full' thing, no matter what life throws at them, and it amazes me.

Anyway, I see a tangent happening, so I'll break it off here. Happy Easter, Everyone! Whether what it means to you is church or just chocolate, I hope it's a good one.

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