Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Lesson in Forgiveness

Photo credit:  ©Warner Bros.
We took communion in church last Sunday, and as I considered how I needed to become more like Jesus, my mind kept popping back to a YouTube video I watched earlier in the week.  I kept batting it away, like a pesky fly, thinking it was some distraction keeping me from considering weightier matters.

See, it was a video about Mel Gibson.  Wow, thinking about Mel Gibson during communion - how messed up is that? In my life before Christ, it would have been no problem for me to contemplate Mel Gibson during communion, or any other time. But after his phenomenal success with Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, in recent years Mel has made an ass of himself, with his public drunkenness, anti-Semitic tirades, marital problems, and domestic violence issues, just to name a few. Like many others, I have grown tired of his antics, and moved on.

But the thoughts wouldn't go away, so I considered what it was I was supposed to be learning from it, and whether there was a lesson in there somewhere. Because this wasn't a video OF Mel Gibson. It was an extraordinary speech by Robert Downey, Jr., about Mel Gibson.

After a promising career start in the 1980s and early '90s as part of the "Brat Pack," Robert Downey, Jr. had a terrible drug problem that peaked between 1996 and 2001. He was arrested multiple times on drug charges, did some time,  and was in and out of drug treatment programs. He stopped being considered for roles, and was even fired from a few before finding lasting sobriety in 2001.

In recent years, Robert Downey, Jr.'s career has taken off, with two very notable successes in Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man. A couple of weeks ago, he added the American Cinematheque award to his collection, and he deliberately chose Mel Gibson to present the award, so that he could make this speech. Please don't read any further until you watch this. It's only two minutes. It made me cry, and I bet you will, too.

And then I knew why it was appropriate to think about this video during communion. Because there is a really good sermon in there, about forgiveness, friendship, loyalty, faithfulness, and restoration - all of which are very near to the heart of God.

Am I that kind of friend? Robert Downey, Jr. never wavered in his support for Mel all during the controversy, and did not distance himself as others did, because of what Mel had done for him during his darkest times. How many times have I been influenced by the "evil report" of others about someone, or distanced myself from someone who was going through a whirlwind of bad choices and worse behavior?  Is there someone, or perhaps several someones, in my life that I need to embrace and forgive, and restore to fellowship?

Especially after all that Jesus did for me. Isn't that what He would do? What He does?

I continued to think about friendship and forgiveness throughout the day, and while I had little or no opinion of Robert Downey, Jr. before now, he has catapulted over hundreds of others in my esteem because of this act of friendship and forgiveness. And he made me ashamed of my attitude about Mel.  Ashamed of my attitude about some other people.

So what does that have to do with homeschooling?  Just that children learn more from what they see us do than from what we tell them they should do.

Walk in mercy and forgiveness, and your children will also.


  1. I enjoyed Downey Jr.'s speech. But I think he has come a long way since that rough time. Gibson is going to have to commit and work hard to receive acceptance and forgiveness.

  2. Susan what a very inviting picture of Mel Gibson, and with a side of Downey Jr., I think I love your blog, lol. All humor aside, forgiveness is very important but it can be so hard. I used to be the type of person who if you did something to me I would retaliate and do something back, but I've come a long way. I get forgiveness now because if you believe in an eye for an eye, everyone goes blind.

  3. I just love Robert Downey, Jr. He has the same emotional issues that I do with bipolar disorder. How nice that he supported his friend, even when it was unpopular.

  4. I love Robert Downey Jr. Mel Gibson saved him and I'm glad he returned the favor. We're all human and deserve forgiveness.

  5. Amen to that! Kudos to Robert Downey Jr. for his loyalty, grace and forgiveness. If Hollywood can forgive Mel, maybe there's hope for the rest of us!

  6. I understand your reluctance to give him a pass, Max. But the point that Robert made about taking responsibility for your ugliness suggests that he believes Mel has done that - that he has "hugged the cactus long enough." When was the last time you read ANYTHING positive about Mel Gibson, and if you did, would you believe it? I'm not picking on you, I have had my own attitude about Me. Looking back, I would have to say I would not even have bothered to read anything good about him, and that makes me sad. I have my own cactus to hug from time to time.

  7. ...which would include typing too fast and hitting send before I think about what I have written. That should say, "about Mel," instead of "about Me," which changes the whole meaning of what I was saying. LOL

  8. I'm actually surprised Mel hasn't been welcomed back with open arms yet. Usually Hollywood is pretty forgiving, especially if they can make a buck. Well maybe that is the real issue. He'll be back. He gave Robert a chance when he was down, and that turned out pretty well.

  9. Susan.... a very power full post with a great message from both you and Robert Downey. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. If there's hope for Mel and RD Jr, there's hope for all of us.