I will always remember this movie. I hadn’t long completed undergraduate school and moved to back to Anderson, SC. I failed to complete my master’s degree in science in Pennsylvania, and was just beginning to reconnect with my family and friends after a long absence. I had found work with a locally prestigious firm and finally felt like I had found a path in life. I hadn’t managed a smile or enjoyed some male friendship in a long time though. I’d spent two years almost totally alone, working for the government and going to school.
I settled back in my theater seat with two good friends joined me that day. The movie “Bad Santa” began. Billy Bob Thornton appeared bigger than life that day. The theater was hushed and I slowly looked around. My thoughts went back and forth between the screen and my friends sitting there quietly. I remember thinking that life throws curve balls at you and you have to be ready. I had never failed at anything in my entire adult life and it seemed larger than anything that I failed to get my master’s degree. But somehow in the cinema that day, I overcame two years of hurt. There was something about this movie that connected deeply inside my heart. Somehow returning home and sharing something as simple as a movie made all the pain go away. The movie was about an irresponsible man tossing his life away chasing wine, women and song. To see Billy Bob Thornton come back from the brink helped me heal emotionally. The movie reinforced a critical point in life, no matter what happens, as long as you have life you can recover. This is also in the South Carolina Motto – “While I breathe, I hope.” So it made sense not to be crushed by my educational failure. We must fail at some things in life to find what God really wants for us. But emotional or social failure can destroy some people. Some people can’t move on and simply dwell on the past. I decided not to.
I never forgot this movie during this Christmas for one simple reason. Healing is a process that often starts with something simple. For me it started in a movie theater sitting alongside some old college friends. We’d reconnected since my long absence, and in the quiet of the theater, I found a little healing amidst the crash of gifts and Christmas tree tinsel. Of course I never told them how therapeutic their presence was that day, but they helped me nonetheless. I quietly teared up while watching the film and kept my pain to myself. In the darkness of the viewing room, the pain slowly slipped away.
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