watching, reading, and writing stories

The Jungle Book and Community

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I was hanging out with some girlfriends this past Saturday and one of them mentioned seeing a movie. I suggested the Jungle Book, since I thought the remake looked interesting and I’d heard some good things about it. The suggestion was met with exclamations of “Yes!” So a few hours later I went with 3 close friends to the mall to see this remake of a childhood classic.

In many ways this movie holds true to the original animated Disney movie. Most of the characters are the same and they even have updated versions of the classic songs “The Bare Necessities” and “I Wanna Be Like You.” However, there are some noticeable changes, most of which I enjoy. For example, we get a lot more screen time and character development with Mowgli’s wolf family, especially his mother. This was sorely lacking in the original movie, and I appreciated seeing the pack or family mentality woven into the film.

The movie also has a darker tone than the original. There is a lot more action, fear, and a more developed villain. Sher Khan doesn’t just hunt Mowgli, he is the one who killed his father. And he even kills the wolf leader because they don’t hand Mowgli over to him. And Kaa isn’t a bumbling snake that easily loses his prey, instead she is a cleaver seductress that would have killed Mowgli if Baloo hadn’t shown up.

Mowgli is also shown to be a very unique and likable character. He realizes he is not like the other creatures around him and develops his own solutions or “tricks” to problems, such as making a scoop to collect water. He gets in trouble for these “tricks” at first, but later it is seen to be his strength. He also is very aware of other’s needs and wants to help. When he sees how his staying with the wolves is causing a conflict, he decides to leave, and when he sees a baby elephant stuck in the mud, he helps it out.

I also love how Sher Khan is defeated in this film. Instead of Mowgli tying a burning stick to his tail, all of the animals of the jungle pitch in to help Mowgli. Ultimately Mowgli is the one who has to trick the tiger into his death, but I really loved seeing all of the other creatures taking part in the action. It reinforced the importance of the pack, or community. I especially enjoyed this because I love the message for us as well.

If we try to face our problems on our own, it’s hard and we probably won’t make it. But when we look out for each other and care for each other, we can overcome huge things. I’ve seen this firsthand with how my city has gone through disastrous flooding over and over again. If we just let our neighbors deal with their own issues and don’t offer to help, the whole community suffers. But when we come together to bless each other, it strengthens everyone.

We all need friendship and community to get through life’s personal or communal tragedies. And this movie does a good job of showing that. At the end of the film, I expected Mowgli to go back to live in the man village, just as he does in the old movie. But he doesn’t, instead he stays with his real community, his jungle friends who he’s helped and who have helped him. They really have become his family.

So I hope you take the time to go see this film, I really enjoyed it and I think you will too.

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A Reminder to be Thankful

a thankful heart

As the Thanksgiving Holiday is approaching, I’ve been trying to be more thankful for things. But this past weekend, I got a surprise moment of thankfulness. So I hope you enjoy this little story and that it reminds you to be thankful this month too.

So, when I was growing up, I went to a church and our youth pastor had all of these events for us to invite our friends to. He wanted us to bring visitors and give us chances to invite friends who didn’t believe in Jesus. It sounded like a good idea and a great way to share the gospel. But unfortunately for me, I was a home schooled kid with no friends that didn’t already go to church. So I always felt a little guilty when he told us to invite our friends to these events because the only people I could invite were already Christians. Well, I did my best and invited some people I knew from other home school groups even though I didn’t think what I was doing had any significance or would make an impact. I thought the only good that could come from inviting friends to a church event was them becoming a Christian and following Jesus.

But the other day, I realized just how wrong I was, how big God’s plan is, and how thankful I am for His work in my life. One of the friends I invited to these church events was named Lindsey. We had one class together in High School and that was it. I was never in any other home school classes with this girl. With those odds, we wouldn’t have stayed friends. It would have been like a lot of other friendships that lasted for a year while we were around each other and ended when we no longer saw each other at school. But, that didn’t happen. I invited her to those church events we were supposed to invite friends to, and she actually came. We spent time together outside of school, and that gave us room to grow our relationship. Then we started hanging out at each other’s houses even when there wasn’t a church event to go to. And when I left for college, we emailed each other, and when I was back in town, we would meet up. Lindsey has remained one of my closest friends to this day. I even got to be maid of honor in her wedding last year.

As we were reminiscing about how we had met this past weekend, I realized how pivotal those church events had been to my relationship with Lindsey. I wondered if we would have ever stayed friends if I didn’t invite her to them. So now I am so thankful for those random events, like Super Bowl parties, and Christmas scavenger hunts, because they provided opportunities to grow relationships.

So today I want to say thank you to Jake Box, my old youth pastor for organizing all of those events and let him know I am thankful for what he did and amazed at how God used them in my life. And I want to say thank you to my friend Lindsey for her constant friendship and her willingness to say yes and go to another youth group’s event.

And I want to encourage my readers to say thank you to someone today and let them know how much you value them.

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Bearing Other’s Burdens

This past year I learned a lot about fulfilling the law of Christ, or bearing others’ burdens. So much so that I thought I would do a blog post about it. So here it goes.

Fishermen, Nets, Ocean, Fishing Net, Equipment
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Galatians 6:2 tells us to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” -NIV or in anther version “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -ESV.

And this makes sense, even if you’re not a Christian. It’s hard to go through life all by yourself. We need other people, to advise us, encourage us, listen to us complain, or just be there when we hit a rough patch. So why is this fulfilling the law of Christ? What’s so special about this command and what does it look like in everyday life?

Well, I’d say that this command is important because it ties into the golden rule,”Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It also connects with Jesus’s teaching about the greatest commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40 NIV

So bearing others’ burdens is showing them love, and fulfilling the greatest commandment. But what does it actually mean to “bear a burden?” I don’t think God is telling us to go find people who need help moving and start carrying their boxes into the moving truck, or if you’re a student to start carrying other kid’s backpacks at school. Don’t get me wrong helping people can have various applications and maybe actually carrying a heavy object is sometimes what we should do. But I think it boils down to what people get stressed out about.

This past year I’ve had plenty of opportunities to listen to other people talk about their problems, worries, concerns, and stress-filled lives. And I think that sometimes, this is what people really need. They need to know someone cares when they’re having a bad day, or a bad month. And it may not seem like much, but listening to others vent is sometimes all that they really need. In some cases, you might get to go a step further and offer help with whatever is stressing them out, but sometimes the situation cannot be changed, and the best thing to do is listen.

I would like to provide a word of caution though. In my experiences I see that many people in relationships can fall into two roles: The Talker, and The Listener. In a healthy relationship, the two friends can switch roles and be both a listener and a talker. But if the roles never switch, it can easily become one person always bearing the weight of the other person’s problems, without getting to release their own stress. I’ve been in this situation before. Sometimes I felt that my friend’s problems were so huge compared to mine that I didn’t have a right to talk about myself or what I was struggling with. But that’s not true, we all need to bear each others’ burdens (especially in the church). So that means take time to listen and be ready to talk.

Another caution I would add to this is that sometimes when sharing about difficult problems, a friend may ask that it be kept secret. And I believe that is good thing, however, swearing a friend to secrecy and forcing them not to tell anyone, is a bit of a stretch. You don’t want to blab what you know to everyone, but sometimes knowing someone else’s stress, creates stress in your own life, and if you can’t talk about it to anyone because of secrecy, that makes it even worse for you.

Lastly, I want to mention that none of us have to bear our burdens or our friends’ burdens alone. As Christians we can bring all of these burdens to Christ and ask Him to do the heavy lifting. He tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 NIV

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