I’ve spent most of the weekend camped out on my couch (except for a wonderful stint down to the Jeffersonville outlet malls, which was very successful in many facets). Because of this, i’m running out of movies to watch. Friday was Center Stage, last night was the Increadibles and this morning was the Emporer’s new groove. But JJ joined me for Rudy this afternoon, which is the movie that prompted this post.
Why can I not get through the movie without crying at the end? I mean… it’s football. I’ve never played football nor have i got the crap beat out of me as part of a “team” but this movie contains something that grips me. (*Sidenote: ever since hearing Donald Miller’s talk on Story, i seem to analyze my movies in a different way. I suggest the same for yourself). I usually start crying right when the older guy who tends the stadium yells at Rudy for quitting with one practice left, then the tears intensify as all the 1st string players turn in their jerseys so that Rudy can play in “their spot”. Buy the time Rudy’s dad gets off the bus and the stadium is chanting his name it’s all out emotionalism. And when he gets in and then even gets the sack??? Ah.
But I couldn’t stop wondering- why does this matter to me? Because Rudy worked so hard and he “deserved it”? No, i’m pretty against the “you deserve this” theology. We work hard because that’s what you’re supposed to do, not because of the reward on the other end, which i believe is the root of our selfishness. So is it because i wanted Rudy to “prove himself”? I don’t think so, although his older brother did drive me crazy with his complete lack of support. But I think he proved something just by leaving town, so it had nothing to do with stepping onto the field.
My best guess at what jerks my tears is the sense of love and support that Rudy finally felt. He fought for attention and affection for most of his time growing up. It’s not that no one really believed in him, but just that no one really saw him. His dad looked right through him, Notre Dame ignored him for several consecutive semesters, and then the new coach barely knew his name. But with the last game, Rudy saw that change. Players appreciated him for who he was and stepped in for him. His parents came to the game and they were proud of him. The stadium janitor worked through some of his pain and bitterness through Rudy.
And all Rudy really did was pursue that which he loved to do the most. I don’t want to make light of his hard work- getting the grades, living in a locker room, living out of a singular duffel bag, seeing his ex-girlfriend with his brother, getting the crap beat out of him every day… that’s not the life i’m wishing on anyone. So Rudy worked really hard- but ultimately he was doing what he loved and needed to do. He was being the person he was created to be, and suddenly people were able to see that and support him.
So, to me it wasn’t a love story of man and football, or small guy doing great things. for me, it was a wonderful story of what happens when people want each other to succeed. when people are supportive, loving and encouraging. it’s less about the individual than it is about the community in which s/he lives.