I love stories. Stories reflect life and help to give perspective in so many ways. If you really think about it, life is a story; Or a series of stories. Even one of the greatest story tellers of all time said so. “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players;” Yes, I love stories so much, I’m actually quoting Shakespeare. In my short life, I have read and watched lots of stories in many different formats. If you know me, you’ll know I favor watching over reading.
In 2012, the movie Flight, starring Denzel Washington, came out. It is the story of a commercial airline pilot who saves the lives of the passengers on his plane with his mad flying skills. I wasn’t very keen on it from watching the trailers, so I never went to see it. It did, however, make its way to Netflix and thus to my living room and my heart. A lot of movie trailers will give away like half the plot line, so I thought I knew what I was getting into. I’m glad to say I was pleasantly surprised. This movie scored a 9 in my books. And that’s saying a lot.
This movie challenged everything I thought I knew about stories. See I thought it would be about the awesomeness of this pilot who could literally fly a plane in his sleep. How, no other pilot in the world could have saved all those people under normal circumstances, let alone under the influence of alcohol and sleep deprivation. It took a completely different direction and gave us the real story. The movie wasn’t about his strength as a pilot. It was about his weakness in every other area of his life.
It’s a normal human reaction when listening to or watching a story, to try and find yourself in it. Unless someone has written a story about you however, you may not be able to find yourself very often. This is one story that I think every person can relate to and can learn from. I don’t want to go too deep in analyzing how stories work and how this one differs from most of them (Although I totally could). I just want to highlight some of the biggest lessons I learned from this one.
I am not a middle aged, divorced, alcoholic pilot with commitment issues. In fact, my life is nowhere near comparable to the life of our beloved pilot. However, I have never seen a movie character with whom I relate as much as I did with this one. Watching him struggle through the story, led me to reflect on my own life struggles. I remember several instances where I knew with no doubt that he would never drink again. But then, somehow, no matter how badly he had messed up the last time, he never seemed to learn. The alcohol always too the upper hand. And it seemed like every time, his mess up was worse than the last.
But his salvation did eventually come. It was his last chance, he had finally stayed sober for long enough to be presentable at his trial. Unfortunately, the night before the trial, he relapsed and drank an entire mini fridge of alcohol. And when the hardest question came (if he was drunk when he landed that plane) he couldn’t lie anymore. “Yes! Yes, I was drunk. I’m drunk right now.” That confession ensured that he would go to jail for a long time. But, ironically, that confession is what gave him true freedom.
The first lesson that I learned from this story is that as different as we are individually, we are also extremely similar. The second, and most important to me for now, can be found in scripture:
II Corinthians 12:9-10 (NKJV) And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Often in my life I find myself trying to hide my weaknesses. Pretending that I’m OK and can handle things just fine. Unfortunately, that is not often the case. In many areas of my life, I’m still looking forward to the “I’m drunk right now” moment. That moment when I can truly boast of all my weaknesses. I hope I don’t take too long.