I love good movies. I mean ones laden with sound morals.
One of such movies is the historical drama film called Bridge of Spies directed by the indefatigable Steven Spielberg. No doubt it’s not your regular blockbuster – fast and furious type, it’s laden with pretty instructive sentiments.
Since the idea behind this article is not to do a review of the movie, I won’t bore you with an elaborate account of it. (You can visit Bridge of Spies to see the full movie). Actually, my reference to the movie is concerning the role designation of one it’s major characters – Rudolf Abel (Mark Rylance).
I won’t assume you’ve seen the movie so I’ll just do a two-dollar character analysis of Abel. Abel is depicted as a stoic individual with an enigmatic yet intriguing personality. He is arrested by the US Secret Service for allegedly spying for the Soviet Union during the Cold War era. He is later convicted of the charge and sentenced to 30 years in prison. His lawyer James Donovan (Tom Hanks) however does his best possible to ensure the sentence is reversed for a possible future prisoner exchange.
Now, this is what I find intriguing about the character of Abel: Throughout the period of litigation over his case, he never for a minute showed any sign of concern or apprehension about his predicament. I mean there was not a single moment when he is caught bathing in the pool of self-pity.
Here is a person who was arrested for alleged espionage; locked up in a maximum prison; put on trial and later sentenced to 3 decades in prison. One would have thought he was going to ‘rightfully’ give in to a state of dejection, misery and worry. It won’t be out of place if he languished. But no, Abel was almost unnervingly calm in the middle of the raging storm.
In fact, at some point in the narrative, it was as though his lawyer (Tom Hanks) was the one on trial. Rather than the convicted doing the worrying, his attorney helped shoulder that burden.
In one of their private interactions in Abel’s cell, Donovan observes the unusual calmness with which his client received a particularly bad news. With a baffled expression on his face, he asks him Do you ever worry? The unruffled Abel responds Would it help?. In another scene, Donovan breaks another frightful news to Abel. On a good day, Abel should show concern about what he just heard. However, when he failed to do so, Donovan takes another interesting look at him and commented You don’t seem alarmed. In his usual relaxed style, Abel responds with the same statement Would it help?
The convict’s perpetual expression
How did it end for Abel?
Surprisingly enough, it ended well for him. After a series of back and forths between the US and the Soviets, a prisoner exchange was made. Abel was repatriated to Russia and was reunited with his wife and daughter.
Moral of the story?
Worrying won’t solve a thing.
If worries were remedies to life problems, I’ll simply create a space in my room where I’ll call “wallow-central” and spend the better part of life there. I’ll do nothing but worry away till my troubles are gone. But last time I checked, worrying never takes care of troubles. It only aggravates it and takes away one’s peace and sanity.
Every now and then, we are faced with life challenges that seem to try our faith and test our mettle. Sometimes, in our lives, things doesn’t seem to go in our direction, help doesn’t appear to come from where we hoped, our desires don’t get to be realised as at when due… In all of these contrary circumstances, we always have a choice to make: worry or take action. While it’s natural and normal to feel uneasy at the instance of a negative situation, it becomes counteractive to major in anxiety.
Just like Abel would often ask in response: would it help to worry or panic?
Think about it: Have you ever gotten anything (positive) done while you were busy at being apprehensive or anxious? Of course, there is a difference between (constructive/positive) thinking and worrying. While the former makes you ponder over things and helps you find solution to problems, the latter only makes you feel mentally agitated and distressed.
Each time we throw ourselves a pity-party whenever life happens, we shoot ourselves in the leg. The truth is if a problem can be solved, there is no use worrying about it. Alternatively, why worry about circumstances beyond your control?
What’s the WAY FORWARD…
~Take practical steps/actions: Finding solutions to some issues shouldn’t be rocket science. Overcoming some challenges simply require that a fellow turns inward, talk to the right set of people, ask questions, change/adjust his manner of doing things, do away with certain unhelpful habits, activities or associations… Otherwise, worrying becomes an alternative or a lazy excuse for lack of proactivity.
~God Still Cares: Not everything mountain can be surmounted by sheer strength. Some things are just beyond your control and need divine intervention. Good thing is God is always there to help whenever you call on Him. However, there is not enough room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must therefore decide which one gets to live there – Anonymous.
I’LL LEAVEYOU WITH THESE
1Pe 5:7 Turn all your anxiety over to God because he cares for you.
Php 4:6 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Php 4:7 Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
Human relationships (be it familial, filial, congenial, romantic or professional) is an interesting albeit complex phenomenon. Inherent in them are contradictory aspects struggling for supremacy. Just as some parts struggle to keep the bond of a relationship, other parts ensure that they leave it fragmented. For instance, while traits like love, mutual understanding/respect, and empathy tend to foster cordial relationships, idiosyncrasies such as attitudinal problems, unwholesome behavioural patterns and a sense of distrust tend to breathe friction. In the words of Kienzle and Dare, each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within an individual.
One of those things that projects the imperfection in humans and hamper cordial relationships is mistakes. I’ll define a mistake as an incorrect, unwise act or decision due to bad judgement or a lack of information or care. There’s a saying among my people that says no matter how hard a man tries, whenever he walks, he can’t help his head from shaking now and then.
Imagine that the world is a big school and everyone in it are pupils. Mistakes then will be likened to backpacks – every pupil straps his own. We all make our share of them – some trivial and others grievous. The interesting is mistakes are often not premeditated. Instead, they are mostly products of bad judgements calls.
Human interactions have never been a perfect one; it demands that we step on one another’s toes now and then. After all, even the teeth and the tongue do have their occasional issues. Since we are not all wired the same way, we are bound to speak, act or behave in a manner that will displease the other.
The father who has had a hectic day at work screams at his poor little girl who asks him a harmless question…the immediate boss at work reprimands his subordinate for a wrong he didn’t commit…the fiancée vents an anger caused by someone else on her fiancé…and the scenarios are endless. However, whatever the dynamic is, a wrong can always be overlooked/forgiven when the wrongdoer makes proper amend.
ATTACHED TO A PENCIL IS AN ERASER
Consider mistakes and redress from the point-of-view of the makers of the typical pencil. Consider the foresight they exhibited in making them. They knew that, in the course of using it for creative purposes, errors/mistakes are bound to occur. Hence, they fit an eraser right on top of it to clean them off. Such forward-thinking perspective concerning mundane things can also come to bear on the art of relationship, especially when it comes to tackling wrongs done to a person.
Except in extreme cases, we have the capacity to re-write any wrong/mistake. Interestingly, no antidote to wrongs does a better job than admittance to wrongdoing and a sincere apology.
THE WEIGHT OF AN APOLOGY
A wise man once said “it takes a big man to admit when he is wrong and even a bigger man to admit that another is right”. An apology is a statement expressing remorse for an action. To apologise is to acknowledge a wrongdoing or to take responsibility for a wrong done to another.
Rendering an apology is a face-saving act. The truth is in every ideal individual is a sense of self-esteem or dignity that he tries to protect. When he is wronged, there is a threat to that sense which makes him feel hurt. However, such threat is mitigated when genuine apologetic statements are offered. However, more importantly, a genuine apology is backed with the preparedness to do what is right going forward. While some interesting folk will view apologies as a sign of weakness, every right-thinking individual understandsits potency.
To apologise is to say sorry, i.e. express regret for an action that has upset another. Most times, an apology goes with the utterance of three simple yet powerful words “I am sorry”. Many relationships have been salvaged because the offending party apologised as at when due and in the right way while others have been severed because particular parties involved found it difficult to apologies. Some even made matters worse because of the manner in which they apologised.
APOLOGY MEANS RESPONSIBILITY
When a fellow apologises, he is taking responsibility for a fault and expressing his regrets. It’s therefore counteractive when certain speech and attitudinal factors betray the genuineness of the apology rendered. For instance, what’s the good in an apology rendered with an irritating/angry tone or with voice raised? J.A. Holmes is right when he opines that 90% of the friction of daily life is caused by the wrong tone of voice.
What’s more, apology and amends are like Siamese twins; they go hand in hand. There is no point apologising for an action one will keep repeating. A sincere apology will imply shying away from whatever upsets another. For example, if I apologise to you after saying something rude to you, my apologies should also imply that I won’t say such rude words to you in the future. It’s then that my apology will make sense and bring about the required change.
YOU WANT IT TO BLOSSOM? NURTURE IT!
Human relationships can be likened to a tender flower. If you don’t want it to wither, you have to nurture it. Since mutual affection is a basis for its survival, one has to ensure that it sustained. Consequently, the ability to sustain it is hinged on having the right set of attitudes. One of those attitudes is the ability to render a sincere apology as at when due and ensure that the mistake for which one apologises doesn’t keep repeating itself.
Sullivan felt disappointed at what his old man left him for an inheritance. Not that he expected to get the bull share of what he left behind. But then, he never anticipated the ill-luck- of- a benefaction his late father bequeathed to him. His father Truman had passed away a couple of months ago, having lived till the ripe age of 80. He died a wealthy man with a good number of holdings, businesses and property to his name.
But of all there was to give away, the only thing that came to him was a document for a parcel of land with a note attached to it. All the note said was ‘value this inheritance; there is more to it than you think’. And to add salt to injury, he got to know that the land was located in the hinterland.
He mused over what he was supposed to do with a parcel of land in the middle of nowhere. It wouldn’t even fetch a good price to start a small business if he decided to sell it off. Just to think that Billy the family’s black sheep had cut a better deal while he got next to nothing for his meritorious service to Truman. For all he cared, his late father never meant well for him.
Not long after the will had been read, he visited the community where the land was located. Seeing that he’ll never have a need for it, he decided to transfer its ownership to Ryan, an old acquaintance of his who lived there. He’ll rather give it out for free than sell it – good riddance to bad rubbish.
It was a fortunate Ryan to whom Sullivan bequeathed the property. He had been desirous of acquiring a piece of land where he could farm and sink a well in order to water the crops. He set to work immediately and engaged the services of a couple of labourers who began to dig.
They hadn’t dug for too long when one of the labourers called Ryan’s attention to a curious find: It was a sprinkling of metallic elements of a deep, rich yellow colour. I think you just struck gold Mr Ryan, one of the labourers informed him.
Nothing is too small; nothing is too big. It’s all about perception.
Most times, it’s the seemingly little/intangible things of life that matter the most.
I woke up this morning, hale and hearty and with a roof under my head and loved ones around me. I have good clothes to wear and can afford a three-square meal. I’m healthy enough to step out and work. I can put a smile on people’s faces by the little acts of service I render… I’ve got a lot to be grateful for!
It’s a flaw in human nature that we don’t get to value those seemingly little things of life until we lose them. Most times, we only find pleasure/happiness in the supposedly spectacular things. Things like the purchase of an expensive piece of property, a mouth-watering contract, a new highly-paying job, etc. We seem to forget that the presence of those little things is what makes it possible to hope for the big things in the first place.
5 blessings we rarely take into account:
🙏The fact that we are alive: only the living can long for anything
🙏The good health we enjoy: it’s the best wealth we can ever have.
🙏The gift of true friends and loved ones: they keep us going when the going gets tough
🙏Sound mind: It’s why we can dream and long for ‘better things’ in the first place
🙏Life challenges: they bring the best out of us
In placing priority on the things we desire, we are oblivious of the manifolds of goodness concealed within the so-called insignificant things that we have.
When we fail to appreciate the little things God has given us, we set ourselves up for a life of regrets, worry, dejection and misery. For every single thing we long for, there are dozens more to be grateful for.
Dream, desire and pursue better living conditions. Strive to achieve life goals and aspirations. Want more than ‘just a little’. However, never allow your longings and pursuits make you lose focus of the good things you already enjoy. On your way to ‘more’, celebrate/enjoy what you have.
Be thankful for the little things, for they are most important. Little is much when God is involved.
When was the last time you were thankful for the little things?