One of my favorite movie scenes comes in “Unbreakable.”
It’s the moment in which the unlikely “superhero” David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) comes in contact with his kryptonite. Dunn has great strength and a way of sensing danger. In a battle with a “villain,” Dunn falls onto the cover of the pool.
The scene builds to almost panic mode as Dunn and the pool cover begin to slip below the water. He starts to move his arms and legs and tries to stay afloat, but you can almost feel the desperation.
In this moment, a pole slides into the water within reach of Dunn’s hand. The children he just rescued from this villain help to pull him to safety. And, in a powerful moment, Dunn makes it to the ground next to the pool, he recovers and stands up as a hero would to complete his task.
That scene sparks something in me for so many reasons. One of those is that this is a powerful and heroic moment. It’s the moment that Dunn accepts his role as a hero and stands up to claim it.
But, it’s also the moment where he comes the closest to the end. It’s when he faced the enemy he could not beat and, in his moment of desperation, he received an assist from someone else. The pole becomes the lifeline that saves him from himself and the predicament that he is in.
It’s a movie scene that offers a metaphor for the moments in life when we fall into our own kryptonite — our own “pools.”
The beer commercial shows people to the “pit of misery.” Dilly, Dilly. But, maybe, it’s our “pool of misery.” We don’t necessarily choose the pool of misery, as much as, we fall into it.
Maybe it comes when life changes faster than we change and we lose our footing. Maybe we find it when, as the song says, We “tried to carry the weight of the world, but (we) only have two hands.” Maybe, the weight of life, the darkness of depression, the pain caused by others, the moments we’re made to fill our lowest, the poor choices that we make, the news that we hear, the report from the doctor, the bills that we can’t pay, the moment we can’t let go of, the negative voice in our heads, the darkest part of our personality, etc., bring us to the point of falling in.
And, it’s hard sometimes to hold our head above the water in the pool of misery. The things we try to hold onto pull us down, the weight of everything else can push us beneath. In that moment of life, we can lose sight of the shore and of hope and of light and of everything beautiful about living.
Those moments can change us for the good or for the better — maybe even a little of both. They make us question life, death and the meaning of both. They can bring us to ask questions of the Almighty and wonder why God would put us there or let us be there or be a part of the circumstances that led there.
And, in some cases, at our moments of deepest despair, there’s a lifeline that comes our way. Maybe, it’s simply the life-saving assist from God. Or, it’s a spouse, a family member, a friend or someone we barely even know who shows up at the moment we need it the most. They reach out the hand, they say the word that matters, they listen and help and make us feel needed and valuable.
On the other side of that pool, there’s a moment of recovery. It’s went the weight of happened and what we went through has brought us to our knees. That can be for a moment, or for a day, or for a season, or for seasons, but it slows us down and makes us reflect and gives us a chance to find our way.
If we can get there, get to that moment, and we are willing, then we get to experience standing back up again. We’re stronger because we went through it. We’re stronger because we survived. We’re stronger because some of the things that were pulling us down stayed in the water we were pulled out.
What happens on the other side of that moment is hard to explain. It’s a chance to see life and circumstances and the ups and downs through the lens of experience.
What do you do when you get here?
As I’m feeling my way around in this season of my life, I’m finding that I’m challenged to find my “meaning” and my “place” in the bigger picture of things. Wounds become scars and scars are outward reminders of inner healing.
But, why? Why have I been able to stand again on the other side of the pool of misery?
I was thinking about John 16 when Jesus begins to prepare his Disciples for the trip to Jerusalem and, eventually, the cross. He promises that it will not be easy but that their grief will eventually become joy. In other words, they are going to fall into the pit, but they will be rescued and restored.
Jesus ends this conversation with a promise: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, ESV).
Life in Christ is some strange mix of ups and downs, falls and recoveries, grief and joy and trials and peace. Maybe, that’s why on the other side of things, if we are willing, if we are able to listen and to trust Jesus, we are able to stand up again. Maybe, we even stand up in a way that was better than we were before we hit that pit.
And, somehow, God is still in it and with us no matter the stage.
For those who are sliding into the pit, may you know that Jesus with with you.
For those in the pit, may you know that Jesus is a rescuer and that rescue is not based on anything you have done to earn it.
For those in the season of recovery, know that God is still there even we you wonder whether God is willing to be around you.
And, for those stepping into the next stage, may you know that Jesus brings rescue to tribulation and peace to trials. And, Jesus has overcome the world and any problem you have faced.
Where are you in the journey? Are you willing to be rescued from the pool?