You may not know this about me, but I like to remember dates and important events. Historically speaking. Whether it was a good day (or event) or something horrifyingly painful, I feel like I need to remember it. If there is anything that frustrates me most, apathy and lack of compassion would be on the top of that list.
Now I am not one who normally cries in movies- romance or anything. But I do cry in movies that are based on real events- movies of honor, heroism, pain, suffering, and tragedy. I cry because I see the brokenness of this world, past or present. I love war movies. Among my favorites are Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and We Were Soldiers. I love other historical movies like Unbroken, The Impossible, and Hotel Rwanda. The reason I like movies like this and why I need to watch them over and again, is because it reminds me of something that happened and the pain (or joy) someone experienced. I am not someone who simply likes to post on social media about an event. It isn’t wrong to post something to commemorate something terrible or celebrate something good. But I like to remember so I do not forget.
When September 11th comes every year (which is today as I write), I relive the horrors of that day. I watch the news from our country that dark day. I read or watch survivors’ stories. I remember my own story from that day- the sadness and fear I felt. I remember the suffering that friends of mine went through. Every year on its anniversary, I watch the movie World Trade Center, about the survival of two Port Authority cops (starring Nicolas Cage). I’ve seen United 93 and other movies about the events as well.
I do the same thing with other movies that pair with important dates. When December 7th happens, the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, I watch the movie Pearl Harbor. December 26th is a date a lot of people may not remember the same as I do, but I watch The Impossible, as it shares the miracle and story of a family that somehow was able to survive the tsunami in 2005, the tsunami that nearly wiped out Asia Pacific. To honor our freedom for Independence Day, I’ll watch The Patriot. The timeframe in between Memorial Day and July 4th, I like to have a sobering reminder of freedom, the reminder being in watching the mini-series Band of Brothers, about the 101st Airborne Division, specifically following a group of soldiers from training camp and D-Day to VE Day. If I ever need a reason to push through difficulty, loss or overcome difficulty, I like to watch movies like We Are Marshall or North Country. I want to remember things, but I want to be inspired as well.
It may seem silly to you and that is honestly okay. But to me, this is so important. I want to be broken for this world. I want to remember tragedies and not let myself because calloused and cold to them. I want to be broken by suffering and pain. I want to be reminded of the things that have been overcome- war, death, injury, genocide. I want to feel something because I need to feel something. I believe deep in my core that this is something God put inside me- this deep empathy and ability to be broken for other people but also rejoice and be excited with other people.
God’s heart breaks for brokenness.
I think we sometimes, myself included, want to blame God when things go wrong and might be painful, uncomfortable, or in the case of many of the dates I listed above, out right terrible. God is the creator, but he gave free will. Out of that free will, people have the choice to do great or terrible things. When these things happen, I want to have a heart that weeps for others. I want to have a heart that is reminded of pain and sorrow, but also to hope. Regardless of the actions of others, I want to be the kind of person that sees people the way God sees them.
Nothing about this post is like my normal- with a call to action or a challenge. Instead, it is me sharing my heart, to you. I guess, if I will give a challenge, it is this: life will bring both good and bad, to you and to others. But you have a choice in your response. Don’t live your life pretending those things don’t matter. Don’t live your life ignoring the cries of others. Don’t blame God. Don’t quit trying. If I have learned anything from consistently watching these movies and others throughout the year (many falling on important anniversaries), it is to allow myself to feel something and to be moved to action, hope, love, and care, but to also inspire others to do the same. History- whether world, country or personal- should never be forgotten. It should be honored, remembered, and, if anything, a reason to continue to push through and strive on.