Just seen the Eddie the Eagle movie. The story about a plasterer’s son with a dodgy knee who ended up representing England at the 1988 Winter Olympics. It was much better than I was expecting.
Two main elements that caught my eye. The first was that, once again, the father/son thing was a key emotional pulse in the film. All the way through the film Eddie’s father was unhappy with him and kept trying to discourage him. He wanted his son to be a plasterer like him, but Eddie wanted to be an Olympic athlete. At the end his Dad was proudly wearing a jumper that said “I’m Eddie’s Dad”. He embraces his son and says:
I’m so proud of you, son.
I mean that. I’m so proud of you, mate.
Eddie says “Thanks Dad”.
Then there is the father / son type relationship between Peary (Eddie’s coach) and his mentor the great American coach Warren Sharp from years ago. Warren had said, in fact published, that Peary was his greatest disappointment. Yet at the end, Warren embraces Peary and says “I was wrong about you”. All classic father/son movie stuff pointing as it does to the eternal Father/son relationship in the trinity and our adoption as sons into God’s family.
How do you square unconditional love with making your dad proud? Jesus, the Son, has the Father’s approval because of his perfect obedience. We, through trust in Jesus and his achievement, have the Father’s approval in Christ. The approval that falls rightly and continually on his obedient Son falls moment by moment on us through faith. Brilliant. In that context of course, we begin to grow up to be like Jesus, obeying our Father and enjoying his “well done son”. There is no contradiction there. You can enjoy your Father’s unconditional approval yet feel the joy of his “well done son”.
The other theme in the film is doing your best and going for it even when you are not going to win any medals and even through everyone and everything is trying to discourage you.
When Eddie first meets Matti, the number one ski-jumper in the world, he won’t even give him an autograph. Then when Mattie sees Eddie’s bravery and determination he says this:
You and I are like 1 o’clock and 11 o’clock. You see we are closer to each other
than to others.Winning, losing, all that stuff is for the little people. Men like us, we jump to free our souls. We are the only two jumpers with a chance to make history today. If we do less than our best with the whole world watching…it will kill us inside.
The film ends with this quote on screen, made by Olympic founder Pierre de Coubertin, which kind of puts the lie to the British Olympic Associations comments to Eddie earlier in the film (see below):
The important thing in the Olympic games is not the winning but the taking part. The important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
I was so inspired by the way Eddie didn’t even flinch when people tried to discourage him. When they laughed at him, he just carried on. He didn’t even seem to weigh up whether he should quit. He just said “thanks very much” and kept on going. Keeping his eyes on the goal. Which was to take part.
Eddie’s dad: Eddie! You are not an athlete!
Eddie : I was just after a few tips, really.
Peary: Give up, there’s one for free.
British Olympic committee: These companies pay to be associated with certain qualities. Excellence. Achievements. Victory. Strangely, they have no desire to be associated with ludicrous antics and defeat…we will not have amateurs in the Olympics.
Norwegian coach: Stupid Englishman. I bet he’s dead by the weekend.
When Peary reads these comments by his old mentor Warren, he decides to help Eddie:
Peary was the most naturally gifted ski-jumper I ever trained. And he’s also my biggest disappointment. He should have been my greatest champion…but his focus was not always on the mountain. He never understood that a true Olympian was not just about a God-given skill set. It’s about never giving up, no matter what. Knowing that doing your best is the only option…even if it results in failure. Bronson Peary was my biggest disappointment.
In reaching for healing I feel a bit like Eddie the Eagle. What a crazy, silly thing to do. “God will never use you to heal anyone, give up. Stop all these ludicrous antics. God doesn’t want to be associated with defeat”. I guess one difference is that most people are very encouraging but we have an enemy who is the master of discouragement and he never gives up.
But the ultimate goal is not success (that has already been achieved by Jesus on the cross), it’s doing, with all my strength, what God has put on my heart to do. It’s living for his “well done”. Our offering to God, the thing that gives him most glory, that is most precious to him, is not the success but the struggle. The pain we persevere through out of love for our Heavenly Father. Today Lord Jesus, I give you my struggle. Thank you that the victory is yours! Amen.
Picture credit: By Source, Fair use
PS. Horton Hears a Who is another father film with the Mayor and his sons’ relationship.