As mentioned in a previous blog post, I am a fan of the move The Notebook. It’s a cleverly told love can overcome story – the kind of story we like to insert ourselves into, imagining ourselves to be in the position of Noah and Allie. This isn’t surprising. As people made in the image of a God who by His very nature is love, why wouldn’t we root for love to grow, to flourish, and occasionally to beat the odds? It makes sense that we watch these stories and root for the couple to live happily ever after, like Noah and Allie. But while theirs is the main plotline in the movie, it’s not the only one from which we can learn.
Noah loved Allie. He remained true to that love even when there was no reason for him to do so. His perseverance paid off, and he ultimately received the desire of his heart. But what should we think about Allie’s fiancé; Lon Hammond, Jr.? Was his not a love story? Did he not sweep Allie off of her feet, treat her right, give her everything, and love her just as deeply as Noah? So why do we celebrate the triumph of one man, when the love that another man had for her was equally as important? It makes me wonder what the rest of Lon’s life was like. Did he just walk away, enjoy continued success in his business ventures, and eventually find another woman with whom he could share his life? I wonder if he saw a little piece of Allie every time he looked into her eyes? Could he let go, or did he hold on? An interesting question; in fact it’s curious to see that this very issue is also broached within the movie.
Before making her decision, Allie goes for a drive with her mother. She is surprised to find out that as a young woman, her mother had a serious relationship with a man deemed to be “beneath her” by her parents. Even though many years have passed, their lives have changed, and she was blessed by “marrying well” and building a relationship with Allie’s father, you can see the struggle that she continues to have over making that decision to abandon the hope of her first true love. Like Lon, you can ask the question, did she really let him go, or did she hold on?
So what should he do? His life, his dreams, his future all changed by someone in whom he had placed his trust. He did nothing wrong. He made no mistake. But it doesn’t matter; the outcome has been decided. This page of his life story has been authored by someone else without any chance for editing, revision, or a rewrite. Ever try to start a story over, or rewrite something you’ve lost? The second attempt is never as good as the first. And even if it is, how do you ever forget the first? I once wrote about Job – his suffering and loss. At the end of the book, God restores everything he had lost, giving him even more riches than before. He gives him ten children – all described as beautiful and strong. But despite this blessing, could he ever forget the children he had lost? Was it bittersweet to see a child in his “second” family do something that reminded him of one of his original children? Did he smile, cry, or say nothing at all? As a parent myself, I don’t know the answer to that – it’s one of those places my mind protects me from going. But it still leaves the question – let go or hold on?
As I see it, the decision isn’t really ours to make. God’s plan provides the best for us in any situation, so long as we listen to His direction and stay true to His word. This is why so many unbelievers can’t understand how a Christian can find contentment in the most challenging and difficult of situations. This doesn’t mean that you should simply paint a smile on your face and make believe that you are happy for what happened. Sorrow is acceptable. Sadness is allowed. But above all, God is good. He will restore what has been lost, renew what has faded, and provide every need for those who love Him. His will is done in the face of any opposition, fear, or mistakes our flesh may provide. Joel reminds us of this when he declares:
“Fear not, Earth! Be glad and celebrate! God has done great things. I’ll make up for the years of the locust, the great locust devastation— Locusts savage, locusts deadly, fierce locusts, locusts of doom, That great locust invasion I sent your way. You’ll eat your fill of good food. You’ll be full of praises to your God, The God who has set you back on your heels in wonder. Never again will my people be despised.” Joel 2:21, 25-26 [Message]
God was there for Allie’s mom and her old beau. He will guide and direct Lon if he seeks Him. And of course, He answered Noah’s prayers by bringing the love of his life back to him. No matter what character our life mirrors, our approach is the same. God’s will is going to be done, and it is certainly the best thing for us. Our decision is to listen to His will, to trust what He says, to and stand firm until the day He brings it to pass in our lives.
Let go of your fears, your past, your sin and your shame. Hold on to His power, His promises, and His plan. Reclaim what’s been taken from you or release what you need to put behind you – listen to His word and He’ll not only tell you what to do, but He’ll also give you the strength to do it.