Lately, I’ve been getting back into movies. Some I watch, and I wish I could get that 90 or 120 or 150 minutes of my life back. Others I watch, and I start looking for large enough breaks in my schedule to watch again… and again… and again.
“The Help” is one of those movies that I watch over and over and over. There are so many lessons as the African American servants struggle for independence, respect, and equality in a South not yet ready to see their talents and wisdom and intellect despite challenges and lack of opportunity.
One of my favorite scenes is when the African American nanny is looking at this beautiful, fair-haired, sweet toddler. She tells the little girl, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”
In the midst of the class warfare and hidden messages about the value of a woman based on birth and role, the servant sees the little girl’s value outside of that system. The servant sees that the system will result in emotional and spiritual handicap for the little girl, for the little girl will grow to be exactly like the spiteful woman her mother was. The servant wants to almost inoculate the child in the hopes the child will grow to retain some of the love and innocence and kindness.
Because I identify as a Christian, I almost wish the movie’s writer had opted to explore what the servant should have said to the child based on the servant’s faith narrative. Faith isn’t just expressed in a church setting, as was shown in the movie. Faith has to be expressed in every compartment of life.
I find Jesus to be the embodiment of Love. (No, not a true non sequitur, read on.) Not the will-o’-the-wisp, always-between-the-sheets version of love touted by our post-modern, post-Christian society, but the tough-as-nails version of love that is sacrificial and puts the other first. He will build and affirm people, but He’s also not afraid to take the religious leaders to task over hypocrisy or command the adulteress to go and sin no more. He warned Peter about Peter’s denial, and yet He was strong enough to let Peter have the free will to choose to deny Him.
If I were re-writing the movie, I would show Jesus whispering in the servant’s ear. He would challenge her to speak the following (based on what His Holy Spirit challenged Saul of Tarsus to write in the first letter to the church at Corinth):
Jesus is the Leader; follow Him. Do what He does.
You be patient and wait, you be kind,
Don’t want your brother’s toys, and don’t wish you had the friends of your playmate.
Don’t talk about all the good things you do, and don’t think you are better than anyone else.
You be polite and show respect for everyone.
Forget quickly and let bad things go; people who are broken and hurt will hurt you; love anyway.
Don’t get happy over the bad things that happen;
Get really excited over all the good things.
Don’t fight things that happen to you because most things can’t be fixed.
Trust that good things happen even in bad times,
Hope that you see the good in all people even the bad ones.
Love is a strong thing, even when people who love you hurt you,
And Jesus loves you best of all. His love nevers stops.