The recent Oscar ceremony provided a vignette representative of so many of the feelings swirling in these days of unusual influences, skewed values, and raw emotions. The events were a vivid reminder of the slippery slope we walk each day trying to act in a godly way during these stressful times filled with misplaced boundaries.
In case you missed the drama of that evening, Will Smith became so upset about a comment Chris Rock made as a joke about Will Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith that Will went on stage and slapped Chris, then returned to his seat with follow up statements laced with profanities. Pinkett Smith suffers from a medical condition alopecia that made the “joke” completely inappropriate, even though her husband’s first reaction was to laugh. The interchange became the highlight of the evening, detracting from the esteem which the many recipients of awards deserved.
First, I’m not excusing Will Smith’s behavior. Even he is not doing that. It is good that the Academy is reviewing the steps it took after the event occurred regarding Smith’s being asked to leave. Chris Rock’s emotions and reactions deserve so much attention, especially the restrained way he handled himself during the attack, and whatever processing occurs in the days to come. Though worthy topics to explore, this writing explores one avenue of thought. . .
It was interesting, and encouraging to listen to Smith’s acceptance speech. He was clearly remorseful and focused on God multiple times during the speech. He explained that he felt he had a calling to be a light of God’s love so felt even worse that he had let his anger guide his behavior in that “crazy” moment, as he states “Love makes you do crazy things.” He does not offer that as an excuse, however, but merely a statement of his thinking at the time. Just as Will Smith that night, we, too, despite our intentions often fail to live as God would have us live. An audience member alludes to the devil coming for us at our highest moments, as Smith was at the peak of his career that evening, later to receive his first Oscar.
That evening’s events are such vivid reminders not only of our humanity, but also, of our vulnerability, especially during these stressful times. Our mental health and stress levels are already at a higher setpoint so that when triggers occur we are more likely to react inappropriately, that is, unless we recognize our vulnerabilities and seek God for help. Fortunately, though after the fact, it didn’t take Will Smith long to turn to God for the strength he, as do we all, lack at times.
A boundary had been crossed when Chris Rock used a medical condition as the basis for his joke. Will Smith was swept into the moment by anger. We can be swept into situations where boundaries have been crossed even more subtly as our culture shifts toward disregard of civility and kindness. Often a joke, or song lyric, or statement can be more hurtful than a voice raised in anger. The subtleness, or the humor, can catch us offguard, as Will Smith’s original reaction of laughter showed.
I’ve experienced this problem myself in a different forum. I participate in a music group here where we perform weekly in a jam session. Last week the leader of the group picked a completely inappropriate song that he felt was funny when, in fact, its humor would not be funny to the person, or group of people, about whom the song was written. A boundary had been crossed. A nugget of truth can be distorted in a seemingly innocuous comical lyric or joke to create a hurtful wound to those who are the target of such types of writing, stealthily masked in a seemingly acceptable format and forum. (Thankfully the group did not join into his choice of song and we are talking to him about the selection.)
On the flipside, I also participate in line dancing classes taught by my cousin Sandy whom many of you may remember had a Near Death Experience a couple years ago. In her class today we danced to fun and uplifting music, including “This Little Light of Mine” (“I’m gonna let it shine”). I definitely felt closer to walking, well dancing, with Yeshua by putting myself in a situation with others who would relate to the joy of those lyrics and she, too, had the choice of so many songs. I am grateful that the values of that dance community are not in conflict with my spiritual walk/dance, and in fact, support and nurture it.
We all mess up. We’re only human. Watching Smith’s journey the night of the Oscars – from laughing inappropriately, to anger, to physical violence, to surprise at his own inability to handle the situation, to repentance, to his strong statements calling out to God for help to get him back on track – was a reminder to us all of his, and our, humanity.
Living is a challenge. Turning to God constantly and consistently, especially when we are emotionally vulnerable, is a must. Being in community with those who daily, consistently, are working to walk close to Him helps them, and us, maintain healthy boundaries.
When we find ourselves uncomfortably emotionally challenged, I encourage you to call on our Abba, through Yeshua, for strength and clarity. For undoubtedly, if you do so, He will be there for you to strengthen you and inform your thoughts and actions, for His love is bound(ary)less.