The Beauty of “War Room:” Don’t Believe the Bad Reviews

Last Wednesday I heard about the Kendrick Brothers’ movie “War Room,” at choir practice.

Our choir director said it was a prayerful movie and that anyone of faith should go see it. That despite the title, it had nothing do with actual, political war. That an unbeliever who saw this movie would be convinced of the power of prayer.

I was sold immediately. I’m a believer, but it sounded like just my kinda movie.

Thursday night, the next day, I was invited to my parents’ for dinner, along with a longtime family friend. She’s a mother of five, a grandmother and a devout Catholic woman– I grew up next to her family.  I had planned to invite her and my step-mother.

Once I brought it up, SHE said she had heard about the movie and planned to invite ME! We both enjoy movies and are single. My step-mother ended up canceling, but she and I kept our plans.

We decided to share a medium popcorn and she asked for butter– just like me. Apparently there wasn’t enough salt, so she poured a heaping pile of it in some napkins, then folded it up into her purse so that we could disperse it in the middle as we ate our way through it. It made me laugh.

I was so glad she went with me. Like me, she’s a movie talker!

After, she wanted to stay and watch the credits. We were the last to leave. Afterward, we went for dinner, which I hadn’t been expecting. I had the best time.

I won’t spoil it- -but I will share a few details.

It’s an ambitious movie that works because it’s focused on one small family, and the way the one family member’s decision to surrender to a disciplined prayerful life transforms the family’s circumstances in every area.

The hero is an elderly woman named Miss Clara (Karen Abercrombie). I think she deserves an Oscar.

She’s got the sternness of Madea, with a little more empathy. She’s a small woman of fire– but she commands just as much respect as Madea. She’s the kind of woman who commands your attention. The kind of woman who refuses to accept your facade, no matter how good you think you are at hiding the pain. The kind of woman who reminds you that you deserve love. That you are accepted and forgiven, no matter what. The woman who teaches you about God’s grace.

Miss Clara notices something amiss in her realtor, Priscilla, and buts into her business in the loving way that older people tend to do. She wants to know about her marriage, her daughter, if she has a relationship with the Lord.

It parallels “Fried Green Tomatoes,” in that a woman’s life is set right by a deep friendship with an older woman, a mentor, who helps another adult woman who feels a bit lost.  This woman could have given up on a marriage that was held together only by contempt. Their own daughter felt unloved as a result of their constant fighting– there was no affection present at all. On the brink of infidelity, both partners in this marriage might have abandoned hope and ended up divorced.

But Priscilla (Elizabeth Jordan), the wife and mother who befriends Miss Clara, is so desperate she is open to prayer,

Miss Clara challenges her to fight FOR her husband, rather than with him. To fight in Jesus’ name.

And it’s Priscilla’s devotion to changing HERSELF, accepting her husband and loving him as is, and praying unceasingly for him, her daughter, and her own change of heart– that is what inspires.

It’s about acceptance, surrender, owning responsibilities, about amends.

About passing on your faith and what you’ve learned with others.

It’s about creating a physical space in your life to be with God and his Word– to pray for those you love most.

It’s about the Bible.

It makes me want to overhaul my own space– to create my own War Room. To eliminate the clutter.

To put the focus back where it out to be: on God.

I heard a lot of “That’s right!” and “Uh-huh,” and “AMEN!” in the rows surrounding us.

I know I will see this movie again.

Please, give it a chance. Even if you’re a non-believer. Especially if you are.

Self-Defense Week Four Wrap-Up: Push-Ups to The Mat

Tonight I learned I need to focus on physical discipline.

Specifically, building my strength and endurance.

I’ve certainly got plenty of spiritual discipline.

But in class tonight, we did a drill where we had to do push-ups, mountain-climbs (sprinting in a push-up position, basically) and then drills on the bag with our hands and knees.

I got in position but could barely go down. I bent my elbows just the slightest amount. It was mortifying.

“Push-ups go down to the mat,” my instructor said.

“I’m weak,” I countered.

“That’s a good way to stay that way,” he said.

And I respected him for that. Am I going to just accept this about myself? NO.

I AM the runt in the class. And I’m going to use that prove that I’ve got the most heart.

I always attract strong, powerful men with a lot of intelligence. I’ve dated a MARINE. He told me several times how much I intimidated him. He was an officer.

I’m going to start re-directing my power toward MYSELF, rather than attracting others. Stop looking around me for validation and protection.

This class is total cognitive dissonance, because as a Catholic and a Christian, I’ve lived my life with the philosophy of being open. If someone attacks you, you back down. You’re deferential. You forgive.

But life is not forgiving. Life is brutal. It’s a war out there– you have to fight for everything.

Being fit and healthy is my first line of defense.

Tonight my instructor reminded us that it doesn’t MATTER if we’re tired or weak, we need to keep fighting.

“Until the threat is gone,” he said.

And this can be applied to anything.

I’m going to stop babying myself, which I am definitely guilty of doing.

A few times between exercises, he offered us a water break. I decided not to go the last few times. I felt good about it. I was fine. I didn’t need water.

I’m stronger every time.

I asked one of the other women about push-ups– what’s a good number to start with for me? She told me at one point she could do 63 in a minute. She told me to just do what I can and build from there.

Leaving, I told my instructor I’m working on my push-ups.

“I’m not doing the girl push-ups,” I said.