This movie drew the intrigue of both Stephanie and I after numerous people compared our story to that of the film. As it turns out, there are quite a few parallels.
A guy has a vehicle accident resulting in paralysis below the shoulders. A girl arrives on the scene in a professional manner. A friendship develops. They fall in love.
In addition to the plot itself mirroring our own story, we were captivated by the fact that a movie was portraying both logistics and dynamics of our relationship that are not often represented anywhere outside of our own four walls.
We laughed knowingly when the girl spills soup into the guy’s lap while feeding him. The scene where she lathers his face with shaving cream and cautiously shaves his beard is a daily occurrence in our house. We could relate all too well to the part where his wheelchair got stuck in the mud.
However, the love story quickly takes a turn when the man ultimately decides he does not wish to continue living life in a wheelchair and elects to go through with assisted suicide.
After the initial shock of his decision wears off, the girl resolves to support him and even spends his final moments with him as he slips peacefully away. The movie ends with the girl in Paris, looking satisfied as she sips a cappuccino and smiles contentedly.
The insinuation is clear. In regards to the film, author John Stonestreet accurately stated, “Not only is death portrayed as better than living with a disability, but the ultimate act of love, for a person who lives with a disability, is death.”
What type of message is this supposed to send to me, others in my position, or to someone else dealing with a rough patch or dire prognosis? Give up? If life isn’t easy, it isn’t worth living?
Ironically, the marketing for this movie featured the hashtag #LiveBoldy. #DieQuicklyIfLifeGetsHard may have been more appropriate. It also sparked up much controversial conversation about what is considered “Dying with Dignity.”
If this is the dignified thing to do, is choosing to live gratefully in the face of hardship considered the opposite of dignity? Is taking life in stride, no matter what obstacles you come up against, considered disgraceful?
What if instead of looking for a way out, we allowed trials to teach us we are not in control and began to understand that there is a far greater purpose beyond our small little worlds?
We desire to avoid suffering at all costs, as if it has no use for us. The crazy thing is, this is exactly the opposite of what the Bible tells us. God tells us again and again that He will use our suffering for good, and in fact we are to take joy in it (James 1:2).
Amid pain, there remains a promise for those that don’t just throw in the towel. God promises great reward. According to James 1:12, “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
Our momentary happiness and comfort is not the point of life. God is more concerned about who we are at the end of our lives. Even if it is uncomfortable, God wants to make us mature and complete.
But maybe that’s exactly what I need. To get to the point where I am out of options and can only look to God. Looking ahead to the unknown of a future completely out of my control may be daunting, but the rearview mirror shows time and time again how the hardest times built character, endurance and hope unlike anything else could have.
So while the media may portray suicide as merciful, dignified, and even romantic, I will continue to believe that there is always hope.
Since ending up in this position seven years ago, I’ve gained a new perspective and realized my need for Jesus. I’ve graduated college, interacted with some amazing people, met and married my beautiful wife, and we both believe the best is yet to come.
There is hope in the now, but more importantly, there is a sure hope in the future, which makes the time here on earth that much more critical to use wisely.
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