Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Can You Forgive Me For Being Me?

If you have not seen the movie Silver Linings Playbook, go. You will not be sorry. 

The interaction between Pat and Tiffany below is my favorite scene in the movie. I sat in the theater captivated by these words as they tumbled out of Pat and Tiffany's mouths with raw emotion and grit. I was shocked at first. Not at the foul language (some of the words below have been "edited"), but at the intense reality and transparency of the characters and their feelings. At one point early on in the movie, Pat tells Tiffany she has poor social skills and she has a problem. She responds with "I have a problem? You say more inappropriate things than appropriate things." It is all very refreshing and delightfully raw.

A scene later, Pat and Tiffany are walking home. Tiffany attempts to "hit On" Pat and he resists...she responds...

Tiffany: Hey! 
Pat: What the heck? I'm married! 
Tiffany: So am I! 
Pat: What the heck are you doing, your husband's dead! 
Tiffany: Where's your wife? 
Pat: You're crazy! 
Tiffany: I'm not the one who just got out of that hospital in Baltimore. 
Pat: And I'm not the big slut!... I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I'm sorry. 

Tiffany: I was a big slut, but I'm not any more. There's always going to be a part of me that's sloppy and dirty, but I like that. With all the other parts of myself. 

Can you say the same about yourself jerk? 

Can you forgive? 

Are you any good at that? 

How would you respond to those questions? Can you forgive? Are you any good at that? If we're honest with ourselves we would have to admit we're lousy at forgiving...ourselves and others. We don't forgive ourselves because we think we need to somehow continue to "pay" for our past mistakes. We don't forgive others because we want them to pay for their past mistakes. The problem is that we are the ones who continue to pay in either situation. We live with guilt and shame over our own mistakes and with bitterness and anger over the mistakes of others.

I love this character Tiffany because she is honest about who she was (a slut) and who she still is (sloppy and dirty). There is something that resonates with me about her sheer guts to admit that about herself. I hear her heart longing to be free - free of the shame and regret. Listen closely - can you hear her cries for freedom? For forgiveness? It's as if she is asking the questions;

Will you be the one to accept me the way I am? Will you take me as I am? Will you be the one to not dwell on where I've been and to not expect me to be someone I can never be? 

Can you forgive me for being me?

And aren't those the questions that haunt us all? I've asked those same questions myself because really, at the end of the day I just want to know I'm accepted.

That is why the gospel is such good news and why it never gets old or stale or monotonous. It's why we can never stop talking about grace because grace is the only thing we can hold on to.

Grace and the gift of forgiveness it brings is the one thing we need and the one thing we can never have enough of because as Tiffany says, "There's always going to be a part of me that's sloppy and dirty." 

My greatest times of joy and peace come when God reminds me that in the midst of my sloppiness and in the midst of my mess He loves me.

In answer to Tiffany's questions Can you forgive? Are you any good at that?, Jesus replies "yes, I'm really good at that. I paid it all." Now that's a silver lining...

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. Eph 1:7

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