I once saw a powerful movie called Like Stars on Earth. In fact I may have referred to the movie before. (The challenge after writing so many blog posts is that I forgot what I have written.) Even if I have mentioned the movie before, it is so powerful that it is worth bringing up again. The movie is about a kid with dyslexia who is misunderstood by all his teachers and friends and is dangerously close to slipping away in a cloud of depression and despair until an art teacher comes and completely changes his life. One of my favorite scenes is when the art teacher visits the home of this child and speaks to his parents about what he has observed. Up until this point, the parents have no idea what is wrong with their son. All they see is a rebellious, lazy, dumb child who is a disappointment to his parents and his older brother who is a genius and a straight-A student.
The art teacher tries to explain to the child’s father that the child is misbehaving not because he is rebellious but because he has no idea what is going on around him. The way the art teacher put it, “it’s much easier to say I won’t then I can’t.” When the father is still not convinced, the art teacher looks around him and grabs a game that has Chinese words all over it. He asks the father to read it. When the father says that he can’t read it because it’s in Chinese, the teacher continues to insist that he read it. As the father continues to tell the teacher that he can’t read it, the teacher finally says, “You’re misbehaving! Stop it!” A light bulb goes on in the father’s head and he finally realizes that is exactly what he and the rest of his son’s teachers have been doing. The child can’t read, and they keep insisting that the child must read to them and declare the child to be misbehaving when he gets frustrated and refuses to read.
Beyond the three to five people who comment and provide regular feedback to my blogs, I have no idea who is reading any given entry. However, I’m going to take a huge risk in saying what I’m about to say simply because more and more each day I’m starting to feel like that dyslexic child. No, I’m not talking about my reading (although I read so slow that I could pass for a dyslexic student). I’m talking about my spiritual education. Though I hate to admit it, I had a really difficult time at our church’s prayer meeting tonight. The whole first part of the meeting, I kept listening to other people’s prayers and asking God, “Do I have to sound like that?” The prayers that were being prayed were so positive sounding and sounded so wonderful and selfless. I was sitting there wringing my hands feeling like a dumb, rebellious child who didn’t quite fit in with my selfish whining and complaining. In fact, to be quite honest, I am often so tempted to act out in frustration and scream I won’t so that I don’t have to keep saying I can’t.
There, I said it. I feel dumb, out of place, and like a total fool because I have no idea what’s going on around me. Like the child in the movie, I feel like “the letters are dancing” and mocking me while I feel the pressure to “read the dancing letters” as one of the child’s teachers commanded him to. I was so tempted at prayer to take off one of my flip flops and throw it across the room just like the child in the movie kicked the potted plant and shattered it to pieces. I wanted to scream, “I don’t get it. Why does everyone else seem to?”
This post is probably not going to generate a lot of “likes” or positive responses, but at this point I am so frustrated I don’t really care. One of the most profound things I remember about the movie was the little flip book that the child made which started with all the members of his family on the first page and no one was smiling. Then through the flip book, he slowly moved himself off the picture and then at the last picture there was just his parents and his older brother and everyone was smiling. Sometimes I feel like I could make a flip book like that. Many of my friends at church have made it clear that they would not be better off without me, but sometimes I still wonder if the removal of a rebellious idiot might actually be a good thing.
Okay, I know that I said a long time ago that due to what I have chosen to name this blog site, I will always try to insert an element of hope in every entry, no matter how bleak. While I have not always held true to that intent, I will try to stay true to the original purpose tonight. During the prayer meeting when I asked God if I had to sound like all the wonderful people around me, God’s instructed me to pray a “David prayer.” What I have been calling a “David prayer” is basically a prayer that begins with honest complaint or a heartrending cry of pain, but always ends with praise. So I did. I am grateful that God allows us to pour our hearts out to him in honesty and gives us a reason to praise him at the end. So there’s my hope for today, however slim.