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.