We just recently saw the movie “The Shack.” I had read the book after Griffen passed on and the message it brought was one I desperately needed. Interestingly, it was published in May 2007, the same month and year that my little brother Griffen physically left our lives.
The book came to me a bit later, but the timing was perfect. I was struggling to forgive the young people who called themselves Griffen’s friends — the last ones to see him alive. I was struggling because instead of reaching out to help him, they played a game that shamed him. In their eyes, it was innocent, but in mine, it was part of the reason he wound up dead. Griffen was responsible too and I knew that.
His friends said he was livid when he regained consciousness and saw the Sharpie markings all over his body. I knew why when I saw his morgue photos. Forgiveness was totally out of the question. Hell was even too good for some of them.
Then I happened upon The Shack by William P. Young. I read, and I cried. I thought, and I cried. I cried and cried some more. Mr. Young’s words gave me an entirely different perspective on life, death, and forgiveness.
Seeing the movie reminded me of how flawed our human perceptions can be. If we could just see the whole person — their life experiences, their pain, their fears — all of them — I think we might look at others in an entirely different way. Instead, we see others through our life experiences, our pain, our fears — all of them — and we grow further and further apart.
I believe this way of thinking has made our world lost from our Spiritual selves and God. I’ve been thinking it for a long time. I’ve wanted to write about it but always feel reluctant in this area. Who am I to say such things? I have no kind of religious background, and I couldn’t tell you the last time I sat in a church unless it was for a funeral. I spend loads of time with God, but I do it in a very non-traditional type of setting and manner.
In my world, we don’t need a building or a preacher to commune with our Maker. Not to disrespect the church but I believe we can be with God from anywhere and at any time. We do have to have a real desire to have a relationship, and we must spend time in the quiet space where the Holy Spirit resides — in our hearts.
As you probably already know, this world gets overwhelming. It can be easy to succumb to the darkness, to anger and to the idea that life is all about us. Focusing only on the “I” makes us lose sight of the whole. And it puts a wedge between God and us — between us and others.
We forget how important it is to be kind, loving, and generous. We become quicker to judge than to love. We hold grudges instead of forgiving. We enjoy being angry more than we do being joyful. In other words, we forget all the things that Jesus taught us to be.
And that my friend is where The Shack came in for me — I was angry and felt I had a right to be. It would dishonor Griffen if I were not. I had to continue to hate and hold a grudge. Thank God that William P. Young pushed open a previously closed door. I journeyed with him to “The Shack” and came out a different person. His words helped heal my Soul. My life hasn’t been the same since.
Throughout the movie, I thought of Griffen and smiled. I hadn’t read the book in years and had forgotten some of it, but I got a warm fuzzy feeling when I heard the main character saying, “I forgive you. I forgive you.” It was like the book — perfect timing.
The day before I had silently said those same words over and over, “I forgive you. I forgive you.” Just like in “The Shack,” someone had died. On the way to the funeral, I knew I would be seeing a person who had done something hurtful to someone else that I loved.
As I thought about the incident, I realized I was still angry. I prayed all the way to the service to love and honor the loved one who had passed on and the family. I reminded myself that I was kind and even if this person said anything out of the way as they had to another I would choose love.
After the service, I looked up as the person came around another person and said hello. I could have chosen unkindness and rejection, but I chose to love. Anything else would have dishonored my Spirit and went against the lesson I learned from my little brother and The Shack all of those many years ago. May your light shine as bright as ten thousand suns and may you love and forgive as if there is no tomorrow.
Love and light!