The Odd Life of Timothy Green – Movie Review
The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a sweet, magical little movie about parenting, about adoption, about dreams, and about giving, about what really matters in life…and about so much more. Like any great fairy tale, it has a lot of tender moments that can go a long way to instruct your heart in matters far deeper than the simplicity of the story might suggest—if your heart will let it.
The one moment that lingers almost ferociously in my mind, refusing to let go probably because I haven’t gotten all the good out of it yet that I am supposed to, occurs right at the beginning of the movie. After years and considerable expense trying every possible alternative, Cindy and Jim have just been told by their doctor that they need to finally accept that they simply cannot get pregnant. Cindy goes upstairs to the little room that once held so much hope and now is a sign of all her disappointments and weeps. The nursery into which she had poured all her love and hopes for the future was now a tomb for the same.
Hope is a funny thing. It can keep you going against impossible odds and shield you from pain as it fixes your eyes on something greater in the future, but it can also be the very cause of pain unimaginable once it disappoints. Cindy had just ridden the roller coaster of hope up and up as it carried her over disappointment after disappointment, always being given a new reason to hope in some new medical answer to their infertility. Then, at the top, as the last rung of hope carried her over canyons of disappointment relatively unscathed, she found there were no more rungs of hope to carry her up and she and Jim crashed down into a pit of reality at breakneck speed, with nothing to ease the crash landing.
It was at this point that Jim had an idea. “Let’s have a kid!” he said, enthusiastically even. Of course, Cindy had just gotten off the hope ride and didn’t care to get back on after that awful crash landing, so she was resistant. Jim persisted. He had an unusual idea and in the center of the pit of despair, he dared to dream. It wasn’t like before. He didn’t start thinking of another way to circumvent reality, another solution to infertility; he just allowed himself to dream about what their kid would be like, and to delight in it. He and Cindy began to think about themselves and what qualities of theirs a kid was likely to inherit (only the best ones of course – they were dreaming!). Their kid would have to have a big heart. Their kid would be honest. Admittedly, their kid probably wouldn’t be a great athlete, but just once he would get to score the winning goal…and so on.
They wrote down all their hopes and dreams for a child, put them in a box, and buried them.
This is the scene that I cannot get away from. I am struck by the sweetness and the release that encompassed them once this was done. They allowed themselves to dream and then sweetly surrendered themselves to reality and chose to embrace what life had given them rather than being hardened and embittered by a fight for what life had not, for what they felt they were owed. They lovingly wrapped up all those dreams and put them to death.
Do you have hopes and dreams that you need to bury? Do you need to let go of something that you want, feel ought to be yours by rights, but do not have? Is the quest for it making you bitter? Are you still climbing up on hope, or has it sent you crashing down?
There is an essential principle we see in the laws of nature as well as in the laws of Heaven (surely the laws of nature only echo the greater laws of Heaven) that a thing must die and be buried before it can be resurrected. A seed falls from the tree and is buried in death before it can be resurrected into the new life of a tree. In the same way, Jesus had to die, along with Him the hopes of all mankind for a Savior, before He could be resurrected and bring the unexpected answer for man’s salvation. A resurrected thing is rarely what was expected, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t answer the buried hopes—it simply answers them differently than expected. Just as you may hope a seed will become a tree, but you can not know what form exactly that tree may take once it grows.
Jim and Cindy had a very unexpected answer grow out of those buried dreams. For a time they were given Timothy, the magical and perfect answer to their buried list. Like the grown tree, he was the thing they had hoped for, but the shape he took was still a surprise for he was still his own person. For example, he was honest as they wished, but they could only predict he would be honest about his thoughts, not predict what he would think. Timothy was this perfect resurrection of their hopes, but he was only theirs for a time—yet another surprise their resurrected dreams brought with them. And after Timothy was gone, their hopes again disappointed, they had another beautiful resurrection in the form of adoption…this time a little girl.
Jesus tells us that we are to take up our cross and follow Him. If we are to follow Christ, if we are to be like Him, then we have to be like Him in death before we can hope to be like Him in resurrection. We have to be willing to put to death not only our sins, but also our natures, our desires, our hopes, and our plans—bury it all and trust God with resurrecting what He sees fit, as He sees fit, when He sees fit. Dying is our job; resurrection is His.
Think of how often this happens in the Bible. Abraham had to put Isaac on the altar. The Israelites went into the wilderness before they were fit for the Promised Land. Daniel had to face the lion’s den. The earth was wiped out by a flood. Joseph was sold into slavery and then cast into prison before his dream was fulfilled and the nation bowed to him. Similarly, David was told he would be king, but before that came to pass, he was an outcast running for his very life. Over and over you can see God giving someone a glorious dream, a beautiful vision of the future, and then asking them to kill it, bury it, and trust Him with it. His faithful followers trust Him, put their lives on the cross, willingly bury their hopes and dreams, and trust the God of resurrection to make good of all they give to Him, even the dead things. And He does.
Questions for Discussion:
- Have you been hanging on to some cherished hope or dream that appears to have little chance of occurring? (You may want to think about doing what Jim and Cindy did—write it ALL down. Allow yourself to dream. Then bury it and tell the Lord it’s His to resurrect if/when/how He sees fit…. And see what happens!)
- Have you buried a dream? Is it still buried, or did you find that it was resurrected in some surprising way?
- Do you think that you would be bitter if you stopped fighting “that” thing, or that you might find some sweet relief in yielding yourself to the Lord and His plans for your life?
- Do you trust God’s will for your life and that He is able to do more than you ask or imagine? Do you trust in His goodness enough to yield yourself to Him?
Click here to read a collection of quotes from the movie.
By Stacey Tuttle