According to the great philosopher Forrest Gump, “Mama always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
There’s one line from the Forrest Gump movie I hang onto. There’s never enough rocks….
Was that the heart of the story? No, I don’t think so, but it was the heart of one of the sub-plots. Throwing rocks was the beginning of the healing process for his best friend Jenny, who’d been sexually, physically, emotionally abused.
Forrest cared about Jenny. He said, “Me and Jenny go together like peas and carrots.”
Finally, as an adult, Jenny gave herself permission to be angry and realized it was her father’s fault, not hers. He was the adult in the story. She, a little girl. He was dead and gone. She could do nothing now, nothing except throw rocks. She picked up rock after rock and threw them at the old dilapidated house where they’d once lived.
Forrest Gump, the friend-observer of her rock-throwing, commented like a philosopher— “There’s never enough rocks.”
When the movie came out, I was working as a mental health counselor. I had thoughts as I viewed the story. Yes! Throw rocks at the old house where the abuse occurred. Yes, throw rocks! It’s doing something! You’re finally having your own say about what happened!
A place to begin the healing process. There’s never enough rocks.
That got me to thinking. You can fill in the blank with whatever your experience might have been. There’s meanness and ugliness and evil in the world. We’ve all encountered evil. It has many different faces.
Usually after the anger stage, after the sad stage, we come to the acceptance stage. The stages of grief. We don’t skip steps. We go back and forth some, we get stuck in a stage sometimes, but we really don’t skip stages.
Those who swallow it or deny the mean and ugly in the world have no room for asking or giving forgiveness. That means their world is awfully dark. And the darkness is real.
Maybe the hardest thing is for people to forgive themselves.
The good news is that God forgives as fast as we can ask. No problem for Him.
Plenty of talkers with a blizzard of words swirl about. But there aren’t enough listeners.
Not sure I was schooled on “how to listen.” Seems like I was told to be still and not talk. That’s not listening. We do know when someone is truly listening and when they are not.
Once we choose to forgive (and I don’t mean that we must agree with the one doing meanness or ugliness), we can hear the birds sing again. It’s like a life raft.
I write this as I sit in ICU, near a granddaughter. She’s in here because she needs help. Presently, they are changing her meds, observing, trying to make a difference.
Yesterday, I wanted to throw rocks at Autism. Today, I’m writing about it. That act of writing about her struggle helps me to turn it into a life raft.
Maybe you ask, “How would writing or throwing rocks help?” It helps you and me work through the anger stage. It says my anger exists, and I don’t want to get stuck here, so I’ll throw rocks at the field, bang pots and pans, whomp a broom against a tree. I’ll do it to move through the grief process. Forrest Gump said it this way. “You’ve got to put the past behind you before you can move on.”
I want to just move through the stages toward acceptance, toward grace and love, toward hearing the birds sing.
We just have to monitor feelings, maybe name them rather than deny them, then throw rocks or hammer nails—something where we won’t hurt self or anyone else.
And we need to ask for prayer from someone else, maybe a whole community of folks.
May the Lord God help all of us through the rough spots.
As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I’ve got to say about that.”
Old house in Harrison, Arkansas. Photographed by Pat Durmon, March 2020.