Last night my girlfriend and I watched the movie The Shack. While the reviews tend to be mixed with most people thinking it was really great or really bad, I came away with a powerful message from the movie based on the healing power of forgiveness.
Spoiler Alert!!! If you haven’t seen the movie yet and prefer for things to be a surprise, please don’t read the rest of this article until you’ve watched the movie.
This movie is sad. It will tug at your heart-strings. It has a powerful and healing message about the power of forgiveness and how to move on with life after a tragedy.
The father of the family takes his three kids camping on vacation. His wife can’t make it because she has a business conference to attend to.
Just before they are ready to leave, he calls out to his older daughter and son, who are in a canoe on the lake, to tell them to come in because it’s time to go.
The daughter decides to stand up in the boat and ends up flipping it over. The son’s life vest is tangled up in the boat and he almost drowns.
But the father manages to jump in and swim to his son, pull him back to shore and do CPR on him.
All seems to be great as the son regains consciousness from the father’s heroic efforts.
But then as the situation is over, the father realizes his young daughter (around 5 or 6 years old) is missing. His new friends he met at the campground realize their two children are missing also.
His friends find their own two children, but not his daughter.
The police are called in with bloodhounds and track the little girl’s scent to an old shack. As they arrive and find the little girls red dress she was wearing laying on the floor in the shack covered with blood.
Police suspect she had been murdered by a serial killed dubbed. “The little lady killer”, but her body was never found and the killer remains at large.
The aftermath of pain, guilt and suffering
The family is never the same after that.
The daughter feels guilty for standing up on the boat causing the accident which triggered the series of events leading up to her little sister’s death.
The father is angry at himself and at God. This is where the movie does a great job of making you feel the father’s pain.
The relationships of all the family members are strained trying to deal with the aftermath. You feel the pain of their loss and wonder to yourself how you would be able to deal with it yourself.
For those that have lost a child, I can’t even begin to know how horrible the pain must be for you. But at the same time I’m thankful I’ve never had to experience it myself, and pray to God I never will.
His message from God and journey back to the shack
While out snowblowing his driveway, the father slips and falls on the ice and is knocked out. When he awakens he notices his mailbox is open and has a letter in it. When he walks over to look at it, he realizes it is a letter from God and has no stamp on it or any footprints or tracks leading to his mailbox.
The letter instructs the father, since he feels like God has abandoned him, to travel back to the shack where God will meet him.
On the drive there the father is so distraught that he blows through a stop sign, where a semi truck almost hits him.
He regains his composer after the accident and drives to the shack where he meets God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Although God is manifested as an African American woman, Jesus is a Middle Eastern man, and the Holy Spirit is an Asian lady.
Some Christians have proclaimed the story writer a heretic for such a portrayal of God. But I think people just need to chill out, since it’s a story to teach us a valuable lesson and this was just the writers way to express it.
The meeting with God goes into depth maybe a little too long, as it’s most of the movie which is over two hours long.
With that said it also contains the valuable lessons.
Lessons on the power of forgiveness, anger, revenge and judging
The father is angry at God for the death of his daughter. He also wants revenge on the man who killed his daughter.
The anger and desire for revenge have consumed the father and destroyed their family unity and closeness they once had.
Along the way God tells the father that today is judgement day. But not for the father, but rather for the father to judge others.
The father wants to damn the man who killed his daughter to hell for eternity and condemns God for letting this happen.
God explains the man who killed his daughter is also God’s child.
To make the point God brings the father’s oldest son and daughter and tells the father their sins and demands that the father make a choice of which one of his children to send to hell.
The father tells God he can’t send either of his children to hell and tells God to send him to hell instead and let his children be. This is the point where the father finally understands God.
God explains that forgiving someone doesn’t mean forgetting about what happened. It doesn’t mean that there won’t be consequences to the person that caused us harm. But it frees us from pain when we forgive. Even though it may take time and having to forgive them 1000 times.
God also shows the father his daughter as she is playing in heaven with other children and is happy and healthy. The daughter can not see her father but knows he is there and runs over to put her hand up to him.
God then gives the father a choice, to be with his daughter who was murdered, right now or to go back to his family and see his daughter again, just at a later time.
The father chooses to go back home.
Return back to his family
The father wakes up in a hospital room, where he is told he never made it to the shack. Instead he was really hit by the semi-truck over a week ago and was unconscious in the hospital since.
The father tells his story to his friend and then to his wife. His wife believes him.
He makes amends with his children and tells his oldest daughter it wasn’t her fault. That he was just so consumed with his own pain and sadness that he didn’t take the time to help her with hers.
A few years into the future, the family is happy and whole again.
The father and his family completed a spiritual journey and restored their faith in God.
This movie hit home personally to me
While I have not had a child die, I have experienced what it’s like to lose a child.
The short version is I was married to a Russian woman who had an eight month old daughter when we first met.
Although that little girl was my step daughter, I came to love her as my own child. I changed her diapers, I fed her, I stayed up at night taking care of her when she was sick, I took her out to play, bought her toys, took her to the circus, zoo and amusement parks.
She called me papochka which is Russian for daddy. She told me how much she loved me. To her, I was the only daddy she had ever known.
I raised her from eight months old and today she is six years old. Although I have not been able to speak to her for just over a year now. Not to place blame, but for whatever reason, my ex and her boyfriend have decided that it’s best not to let me communicate with my daughter (step daughter).
So although my daughter is still alive, the pain of not being able to communicate with her is real.
I experienced everything in the movie that the father did. I felt anger toward God, toward my ex wife and her boyfriend. I questioned how God could could separate child from her father she loves.
But I have learned that God does not cause these things to happen. People do.
I’ve learned to forgive everyone and let go of the anger.
Though my healing process I’ve also discovered that taking CBD oil for my depression over this has helped tremendously. No it doesn’t take away the pain for good, but it has helped me to cope.
But I’ve also learned that it’s a combination of things to climb out of depression and get back to experiencing joy in your life.
Having faith goes a long way in combination with everything else.
I have had my own spiritual journey to travel. I’ve had great pains to overcome along the way. I’ve had to restore my own faith and belief.
Now I am able to experience joy and love in my life again.
But I will always, still hope and pray that somehow, someday I will be able to reconnect with my daughter again. Be it this lifetime or the next.
The bottom line is go see The Shack, it’s a great lesson on the power of forgiveness and moving forward with your life