If you’ve seen the movie Forrest Gump, you’ll smile as you remember the line “My Momma always said, Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
As a control freak, my advice would be “look at the inside of the lid Forrest, you’ll see exactly what you’re getting, no surprises”. My rational side says don’t take the risk, do your research, consider your choice, look for your favourite first, and so on.
But this approach, whilst “safe”, misses the mark – unless you have a serious food allergy, ANY chocolate is a fabulous treat – and there is the chance you may be surprised by trying something new and finding you really love it.
At some time in our lives, it seems most of us stop taking risks and stick to what we know and are comfortable with. Of course, I’ve encouraged my kids to “try things” when I’ve considered it appropriate – try this fish, or a different vegetable, a new sport or a new musical instrument; their privileged upbringing allows them many opportunities. It’s easy to discuss how stepping outside our comfort zone – just a little – has benefits at home and work. But what happens when life serves up things we didn’t plan for and can’t control? Serious illness, accidents, redundancies, relationship breakdowns, financial problems. These things have not been packaged up and delivered with a bow from Cadbury online; they happen to ordinary people we all know each and every day, often out of the blue.
This is the point where I think Momma Gump has it right. Life is unpredictable; you can plan and try to control what you can, but as Forrest’s story shows, eventually amazing things can happen as a result of even tragic events. In my case, the movie wasn’t enough – when crisis hit me hard I needed several well qualified medical practitioners, some medication and some very good friends to get my mind to realise the glass is ALWAYS half full. But once that realisation really hit home, it has become incredibly powerful in all areas of my life.
Growing up in England I was hardly a water baby – once living in Sydney, I was at best suspicious of the surf – by no means comfortable in the water. But my newly liberated, post medicated self was persuaded a few years ago to take up the challenge to try surfing. Totally ridiculous you might think – but that first day getting pounded in the white water unleashed a previously hidden surf chick, and struggling bruised (and bleeding!) from the shallows that first day I had unexpectedly found a new passion.
If you’d told me even 5 years ago what my life would look like today, I would have chuckled politely, rolled my eyes and shown you to the door. Sure, I’ve been to some dark places, and challenges exist very day – but life is surprising, delightful and full of unexpected joy – largely because I no longer look at the inside of the chocolate box lid, I keep my eyes up and just dive on in.
I love the name of your blog !!
Forrest Gump is one of the favourite movies at our place.
Life has taken some unexpected, traumatic turns for me as well and it was the love of family and friends that gave me strength. Make sure you treasure and nurture your friends as they will always be there when you doubt yourself.
I haven’t seen the movie Forest Gump, but I have seen ‘Chocolat’ with Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and others. I first saw the film in an arts centre when it first came out in 2000. I thought what a great film it was as Vianne, who had wandered from place to place, not driven by the wind, but by something that she had difficulty in facing up to, came to a realisation that her life could change. While she was going through this process, she created those mouth-watering chocolates, encouraged others to sample them and showed a caring and understanding of those she lived among. Eventually, of course, she met and fell in love with the handsome “River Rat”, Roux.
I am a person of a certain age, 3 children and 5 grandchildren and I am also a Christian minster. Imagine my surprise therefore, when I came across a book called “Christ and the Chocolaterie” a Lent Course by Hilary Brand, based on a theological reflection of the film “Chocolat”. (Both available to purchase online!)
Chocolate during Lent? But a number of us were prepared to have a go.
Over 5 weeks, we looked at part of the film (we had seen the whole film as well), were posed some searching questions about lifestyles. We also used readings from the bible, with plenty of time for discussion.
The topics were:
1: Giving Up – The Prelude to Change
• We were asked at the end of this session, in silence to ask God to show us anything it might be healthy – mentally, physically or spiritually – for us to give up and anything we had inadvertently given up that it might be time for us to rediscover
2. Giving Out – The Power of a Gift
• We looked at the way Vianne cared for Armande and Josephine. We highlighted that one of the greatest gifts we can give one another is our time.
3. Getting Wise – The Possibility of Change
• We looked at who or what was controlling us in an inappropriate way, or who we ourselves were controlling, when we should not be.
4. Getting Real – The Power of Acceptance
• We discussed, as Christians, that if we had learnt to follow in the footsteps of a humble, forgiving Christ, then very little can threaten us. We can embrace those of other faiths, views and life-styles without losing our own. We can begin to celebrate and explore differences rather fear them.
5. Growing Up – The Process of Change.
• Vianne faced up to what was going on in her life, took the actions necessary to give herself and her child a happy, stable and loving future, though there would still be challenges.
I have never blogged before. I am used to face to face discussions/interactions. It is a very strange medium to me. However, in line with the blog title I am not looking inside the chocolate box, I am diving in, because I have experienced a life with many challenges, a life that has been very surprising at times, and certainly full of delightful and unexpected joy. Now that I am retired, as is my husband, I face new challenges, knowing that a large part of my life on earth has been lived. I can look back with awe and thanks-giving, seeing where the growing points were, where I learnt more about what it is to me, where I gained in confidence in the abilities that I believe were God given. So as I dive into the chocolate box to see what comes my way, how I continue to grow and become the person that I believe God wants me to be, as I face fresh challenges, I keep my Eyes Up and focussed on the God who, I believe, wants me to be a whole person in him.
Vera – 3 May 2014