About once a month Jason and I will go to the actual theater if anything good is playing. Last time we saw Unbroken: Path to Redemption, the sequel based on a true story from Louis Zamperini’s life experience in WWII. This movie picks up right after the war as Louis tries to adjust to normal life again.
If you haven’t seen the first movie, Unbroken, I highly recommend watching it first. But if not you still get the idea of the horrors he went through during the war. Louis was captured as a POW by the Japanese after spending 47 days at sea on a raft. He was tortured specifically by a prison guard, known as “The Bird” who specialized in cruelty. Years after the war ended, Louis was still plotting how to murder this man. He lost touch with reality succumbing to hatred, depression and alcoholism.
For the first half of the film we see the demons he wrestles with- and it looks kind of familiar.
I have battled depression since I was fifteen.
It took me about ten minutes before writing this next sentence, because I don’t talk about it often- if at all anymore. The first six years as a teenager were the hardest, because all the emotions. Now it is more of an unexpected, unwelcome guest that shows up on my doorstep from time to time.
It’s been said that depression is our anger turned inward. I believe that’s partly true. There’s so much more to understanding depression than just letting go of anger, but this is where I needed to do some soul searching. When we withhold forgiveness from someone, our insides begin to calcify. We lose a tender, pliable heart desiring to conform to Jesus.
Something that hit me while watching in the dark movie theater was a speech Louis gave shortly before he died. He said, “forgiveness has to be complete”. He was referring to his Japanese captors, even “The Bird”. Louis Zamperini learned to forgive his enemies once he discovered he was fully forgiven in Christ. We see him giving his life to the Lord in the movie at a Billy Graham tent revival. That night became a turning point in his life of letting go.
That phrase sat heavy on my heart as Jason and I walked back to our car that night. Forgiveness has to be complete. Just the night before I felt prompted to pray for people I haven’t seen in over 15 years. Part of my depression stemmed from unforgiveness I had harbored for so long.
I thought I had forgiven them- but maybe it was more of choosing not to remember instead.
I realized I haven’t been completely free either. Louis knew this too.
There’s a reason God commands us to forgive our enemies and instead bless them, pray for them. Not only is it for their benefit, its for ours too. Jesus fully forgave me for all I’ve ever done or will do, so how can I not practice forgiving others?
In his book ‘Inconspicuous Providence’, Bryan R. Gregory speaks of the power of the cross which provides us with the supernatural ability to forgive. He says “the cross assures us that God is still working, even if we can’t see it. The cross assures us that God is with us, even when we can’t feel it. The cross assures us that God’s redemptive purposes are greater than the evil being done.”
We may never know the extent of God’s redemptive purposes as He works through our suffering to work in another life because of how we’ve responded.
Our fellowship with God depends on how we act toward each other. It means we don’t keep a record of past wrongs. The best way to do that is by beginning to pray. With the help of the Spirit, He will supernaturally work in our hearts to forgive even when an apology isn’t given. He will enable us to love those who are hard to love. He will do a good work in us as we seek peace and pursue joy by moving forward and not dwelling on our past sins or the sins of others.
My heart was like a wrung out dish rag by the end of the movie, but it served as a lesson for me to keep moving beyond my depression. Forgiveness. Letting go of past or present wounds. Pray for my enemies.
Our fingers slowly pry from the anger we hold on to so tightly. God says we are free if we are in Christ. It’s not just a future hope, but a present reality that we are free. I am free to transform moments of pain into moments of grace.
Grace upon grace,