WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SMALL SPOILERS FROM THE MOVIE “ARRIVAL”.
As you may already know, the movie Arrival recently came out on DVD (you can pick it up at any redbox or here). I saw this movie in the theater and was captivated by the story of the main character, Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams). Throughout the movie there are “flash-forwards” of Louise and her daughter. Through a somewhat intricate plot, the question that arises centers around whether or not one would change the future, even if it involves great loss.
As Louise glimpses into the future, she sees and feels what the future will be like for her. As she sees both joy and pain, she realizes that she could make different choices that will change the future, and ultimately prevent great loss. She then begins to ponder the question: “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” When Louise asks the question at the end of the story, I had tears in my eyes because of the vast feelings that come with parenting. Despite all the pain and fear that come with parenting, we still choose to bring a child into the world and lead them as best we can. We also know this great love and joy that we experience with our children.
This is the paradox of parenting: knowing joy and pain, and having no guarantee of what the future holds. I don’t pretend to know what it feels like to walk through horrific experiences with children. I know that I have been spared tragedies that other families have endured.
I do know the feelings of powerlessness and sadness that I had when I couldn’t help my kids as they cried as infants. I also know the guilt and shame that I have when I make a mistake that terribly hurts my children. But I would feel it a hundred times for the joys I feel, and the bigger purpose that I have in my common calling as a dad. God is using parenting to make me more like Him. Parenting has been the most growing edge in my life: pushing me more and more to be a more selfless, loving, compassionate human. Parenting has created more mystery and less certainty in my life.
“Arrival” is a must see. Check it out, then leave a comment and let me know what you think. As you watch the movie, remind yourself of the joy and pain you often feel as a Dad. Let these feelings shape you. Reflect on Louise’s question: “If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” Allow this to be an invitation to be in the present moment with your kids.