“The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average– though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.” – From the movie Wonder.
Everyone has a story. The person in the nursing home has a story. The homeless man on the corner with a cardboard sign has a story. Our congressman has a story. The kid who gets picked last for the baseball game has a story. The question is how well do we listen to those stories; and do we react as Mr. Browne suggested in Wonder, “when choosing between being right and being kind we choose to be kind.”
The main character of the movie Wonder is Auggie. One of the interesting aspects of this movie is told from the perspective of Auggie and his sister Olivia. They both have a bad first day at school for different reasons. Olivia’s best friend Miranda seemed to dump her for no apparent reason. And because she is Auggie’s sister, she simply responds by not revealing the whole truth. How many of us are like her just trying to make it through, trying to hold on and be strong. And yet, her story is important. The girlfriend who ditched her had a story. The movie shows us that everyone has a story, and every story needs to be heard.
One of the things we as Christians can glean from this movie is that everyone has a story, but do we listen long enough to really hear that story. Everyone has the right to be heard. Everyone has the right to be valued. And everyone has the right to be loved. As Auggie said, everyone needs a standing ovation at least once in their life. When Auggie and Via are able to slow down enough to listen to each other, and it is an amazing thing that happens when they finally take a moment and share their stories. They produce empathy by telling each other their stories and a connection occurs.
Everyone has struggles. If you know someone without a problem in the world, just give them time. Hardships and sorrow catch up to all of us. When we take time to listen to their stories we are more aware of how many people are living out difficult stories just below the surface. Listening makes us more sensitive to what they are going through.
Auggie eventually wins the entire school over by the power of his story and his persistence. It is a painful journey but a powerful one. This movie is powerful in the revealing of the back stories of many of the main characters. It is in the revealing of those back stories that we learn so much.
- What has God been doing in your story? When did you last tell someone about it?
- What can we do this week to listen better? What are the benefits?