I just finished watching the movie Warrior starring Nick Nolte, Joel Edgerton, and Tom Hardy. It attracted me because I enjoy watching mixed martial arts, right from the first UFC (which was more a circus than MMA). But I didn’t expect the movie to touch on me on such a deep level.
While my father isn’t an alcoholic, my brothers and I aren’t estranged, and my involvement in fighting is only as a spectator, I found myself connecting with a lot of the themes in the movie. If the violence isn’t too much for you (everyone’s got their own limits, after all), I recommend you go see it.
What struck me the most is the thread of family woven through the entire story – right down to the final fight scene. The sins of the father would shatter the family and set all three main characters – the dad and the brothers – against the other two. Each would pursue their own path and hate began to take root.
When they finally speak again, amazingly more than halfway into the movie, you feel the years of resentment piled onto every word. I think that’s true about brothers – not much needs to be said to convey affection or scorn. My brother, Joshua, said during his best man’s toast at my wedding, “We always knew you loved us, even though you never showed it or said it.” People laughed and I guess it was funny. But I got what he meant. That’s just the way it was. (Still wish I said it more often though.)\
For most of us, like the characters in the movie, no wound cuts as deep as family. It never fails to surprise me when I’m talking with young men in their teens who seem to take nothing seriously how a conversation about their fathers immediately sobers them up. Sometimes the mood even becomes pensive or uncomfortable.
But at the same time, the joy in seeing families restored is like nothing else. It’s rare but it’s possible. In the next three blogs, I’ll put down some thoughts on the thorny issues that affect families and how they can be resolved. I’ll talk about the thing that cuts through all the issues, the challenge of independence as children grow older, and how to honor and obey. If you’ve got suggested topics, please message me somewhere about it too.
In the meantime, go watch Warrior with some of the men in your family. It’ll be good.