The Vulnerability of Forgiveness

I’ve been thinking about the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail

At first glance, you’d think this movie is about winning. Joe Fox is Goliath, trampling down the weaker competition as we cheer for the David-style entrepreneur who dares to come against him. Although the female version of the David character does achieve a win in an unexpected way in the end, it’s not a David and Goliath fight at all. Joe Fox isn’t Goliath. 

Fox shows that he knows how to separate his business from his personal life until he realizes that his business has interfered with his personal life. When he begins to put a plan into action that would give him an enjoyable life away from the competitive tensions of work, he has to tread carefully through the transitions. 

Going from enemy to likeable acquaintance to friend is a hard journey. It takes vulnerability for that kind of a journey to have any lasting value. Fox has to make a fresh start and rethink his goal. If he wants a life he’s never had, he has to do something he’s never done. 

His humility was what gave Fox the opportunity to go from the man who has everything to the man who must get the one thing he wants most: forgiveness.

The War Against Mrs. Hadley, 1942

"The family enemy" is doing something to help her community, but Mrs. Hadley, played by Fay Bainter, won’t be a part of it because of unforgiveness. Her daughter falls for a man who’s not the kind of man her family expected her to marry, which makes Mrs. Hadley feel hurt and disrespected. 

Her family lawyer, played by Edward Arnold, helps her borderline alcoholic son get involved in the military because he needs a little guidance. Mrs. Hadley finds out that her lawyer’s intentions are not to conceal her son’s weakness and coddle him like she does, so she is outraged. When Mrs. Hadley gets letters from her son that he’s now friends with the son of “the family enemy”, Mrs. Hadley’s world turns upside down. 

Aren’t we all Mrs. Hadley at some point in our lives? We think everyone should cater to our plan and listen to our moaning. Mrs. Hadley proved that by trying to get her way, she only drove away those she loved. Building a home from close-minded selfishness and unforgiveness will leave anyone feeling lonely. 

Don’t worry, the story has a happy ending. But in order to get to the happy ending, Mrs. Hadley has to humble herself and receive forgiveness from others.  

This movie is about giving from a place of humility. A gift from a humble heart is pure and beautiful. But any gift that is given out of an arrogant heart isn’t quite as lovely.

The Mask of Zorro, 1998

When the peasants need a fast-riding, swashbuckling, acrobatic hero, Zorro comes to the rescue. Anthony Hopkins’ Don Diego de la Vega, known to the peasants as Zorro, chooses to give his time and ability to defending the defenseless. But he can't always do it alone, so when two boys help scatter the enemy, so Zorro thanks them by giving one of them his necklace.

The two boys grow up and one dies. Antonio Banderas plays Alejandro Murrieta who takes his dead brother’s necklace and sets out for revenge. Diego finds Alejandro too drunk to win a fight and notices his necklace. Alejandro agrees to be taught by his hero, Zorro.

The story of the two men is the passion of the movie. A father without a son, and a son without a father. An older hero training the new hero. A master preparing the student for victory and for honor.

Alejandro tricks his way into Diego's mortal enemy Don Rafael Montero’s mansion for a party where Catherine Zeta-Jones’ character, Elena, falls for Alejandro. His dance with Elena is one of the best parts of the movie. Sure, he does a lot of sword fighting – and he’s really good at it – but the dance is why women watch this movie.

I loved how the heroic qualities of both Zorros were displayed. They're both creative, caring, and brave. And they show a sense of humor. But the thing that stands out is a sense of generosity. Both men were able to move to a better place and live in peace, but they chose to give their time and talent to serve the peasants. Both men risked their lives because they valued the lives of the people.

The fire in Alejandro’s eyes made this movie. But I loved Sir Anthony Hopkins’ acting, too.

Noticing the Humility of Teamwork

In this world’s current climate, it’s important to focus on what we can do to help others. When things seem to run amok or spiral out of control, we can put our heads together in humility and show some teamwork. Together, we can brainstorm ways of making our communities better.

I’ve noticed that most heroes aren’t victorious alone. They recognize their need for a team, and that takes humility.

You and I can be as helpful as heroes and heroines in our communities when we strengthen our humility and respectfully serve others.  

Speaking of humility, I have good news! I’ve posted the third part of my humility series on my Seek God With Me blog. Start HERE with part one.

The Princess Bride, 1987

The story of sword-fighting men rescuing a beautiful woman trapped in a tall tower is read by a grandfather to a boy too sick to play outside. I love that a popular movie is largely about this relationship. This grandson figures out by the end of the movie that his grandfather loves him enough to share an adventure that anyone can take just by opening a book.

The story being read is what most people remember because of the rhymes of the giant, the expert technique of the Spaniard, and the humility and enduring love of the farm boy.

Directed by Rob Reiner, this movie gives its many fans the ability to quote lines from Vizzini’s battle of wits or give marriage vows with a speech impediment. The popularity of this film makes me wonder how many people on this planet have introduced themselves as Inigo Montoya.

The teamwork depicted in this movie is inspiring. None of the hero’s teammates would’ve been able to find their success without the others. This is the perfect movie to inspire your team to empower the group’s success by using their individual gifts.