Find God in the Movie: To Save a Life (on Suicide)

By Laurie Winslow Sargent:

In the movie (now on DVD) To Save a Life , Jake Taylor (Randy Wayne) is shocked when his ex-best friend Roger takes his own life at school.

In his grief, Jake recalls how three years before he had begun to shun Roger. Jake had succumbed to peer pressure from a more ‘popular’ crowd to ignore Roger and better enhance Jake’s status as the high school basketball star.

Meanwhile, a youth pastor, Chris, reveals that Roger had attended church the Sunday before he killed himself. Chris feels guilty, sensing he could have done more to prevent that tragedy.

As Jake struggles with his old friend’s death, he meets Chris and attends his church youth group. Jake’s  girlfriend attempts to go with him, yet feels judged. As a result, Jake speaks out angrily about how the youth group is failing to welcome and include others.

Chris and some of the teens in that group (realistically, not all) take that seriously. One teen suggests they meet daily at the school for lunch. Jake bravely begins to do so with them, putting himself in a position of being shunned by his own friends and girlfriend, yet feeling convicted about the need to change his life.

Jake notices another teen, Jonny (Sean Michael Afable), being bullied. Still feeling guilt about not having prevented Roger’s death in some way, Jake reaches out to Jonny.  However, as Jake’s own troubles multiply, he becomes self-focused and insensitive to Jonny, failing him too (at first). Johnny then becomes desperate, as Roger had.

I won’t reveal the few twists and turns at the end, nor Jake’s dramatic personal struggles he must surmount, to allow for a few surprises as you see the film. This movie is well worth watching, and the acting in the film is well done. The movie earned a PG-13 rating, which is justified for the serious content, portrayal of alcohol use and implied sex. Those scenes do illustrate high school life fairly realistically so the film doesn’t look whitewashed, but that plus the suicide focus do not make this movie appropriate for preteens or children.

The Christian teens I also felt were realistically portrayed, with not all of the Christian teens having the best intentions but many who do. People like me who have spent many hours with teens who love God may not realize how amazingly sensitive and kind teens can be. I have raised beautiful teens with hearts that do reach out to others, for which I am thankful.

Many teens, like Jake, would say:

“At some point you’ve got to ask yourself: ‘What do you want your life to be about’?”

Is it about being popular? Or changing the lives of others, and perhaps even saving a life?

Teens: share or read your own stories at tosavealifemovie.com/stories/. (4692 Life-Changing Stories, to date.)

Here’s the movie trailer for To Save a Life:

To Save a Life (2009) is available on DVD at Walmart, Amazon, LifeWay and other Christian bookstores.

To read articles about suicide prevention, stories about people (including teens) who have overcome the desire to commit suicide, and find support for survivors, visit our sister site:  ThinkingAboutSuicide.com  You can also find more help at GodTest.com.

© Laurie Winslow Sargent. Laurie edits Finding God Daily, and is an author/contributor and magazine article writer. She blogs for parents at  ParentingByFaith.com and for writers at  SellYourNonfiction.com.  Join her on Twitter as @LaurieSargent.

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Finding God in Surviving Bullying

Finding God in Surviving Bullying

Bullying is a deep problem in our society, where kids, teens, and even adults are belittled, harassed and tormented for social, economic, physical, religious, and other reasons. Though being bullied can be emotionally devastating, it can be survived.

Below are several stories of famous celebs who not only survived being bullied, but overcame it. At the end of their stories, I’ll share tips on finding God in surviving bullying plus a trailer for the movie Bully.

Photo of Miley Cyrus (Wikipedia.com)

According to the antibullyingblog, when Miley Cyrus was a pre-teen in Tennessee there was an “Anti-Miley Club” at her school full of “big, tough girls” who bullied her.

Cyrus was once locked in a bathroom during class: “They shoved me in. I was trapped. I banged on the door until my fists hurt. Nobody came.”

Other incidents included challenging Cyrus to a fight, which only ended when the principal stepped in. And when Cyrus wasn’t being physically abused, she was being teased. Classmates told her, “Your dad’s a one-hit wonder. You’ll never amount to anything — just like him.” Fortunately for her, Cyrus did not listen to nay-sayers, scoring the role of “Hannah Montana” and a ticket to fame and fortune.

Lady Gaga (Wikipedia.com)

Miley is not the only celeb who experienced the bully-treatment.  At a recent Monster Ball concert in New York, Lady Gaga said:

“I use to get really bullied at school…one time I got thrown in the trash. I went to the pizzeria around the corner. And you know, it was meant to be a joke, right? But these guys that some of my friends were friends with, were also friends with these other girls who really didn’t like me very much.

So the guys were like, let me put you in the trash where you belong. So they picked me up in my school skirt and they put me in the trash. I was looking up at them and trying to laugh…to act like it didn’t bother me because I didn’t want to show a sign of weakness. But really, I was holding back the tears so hard because I was so embarrassed that I was in the trash can. So I want to say to you that I am living proof that if anyone ever puts you in a (bleep) trash can, you can get the (bleep) out.”

Bill Clinton from Wikipedia.com

Even United States Presidents endured bullying. In fact, President Bill Clinton was bullied in junior high for being a “fat band boy” with bad taste in clothes, also mentioned in the antibullying blog article.

Their taunting culminated in an incident at a junior high dance: one older student teased Clinton about his carpenter’s jeans, and even hit Clinton in the jaw. But Clinton did not give the bully what he wanted, choosing to stand his ground rather than fight back or back down. Clinton shares in his memoir, My Life, “I had learned that I could take a hit and that there’s more than one way to stand against aggression.” He survived the incident, and his status as a band geek paid off, with Clinton becoming a talented and celebrated saxophone player in addition to his life in public service.

If you are being bullied, check out these tips suggested by Kids Health:

  • Ignore the bully and walk away.
  • Hold the anger.
  • Don’t get physical.
  • Practice confidence.
  • Take charge of your life.
  • Talk about it.
  • Find your (true) friends.

How to Find God in Surviving Bullying

Some of these tips are easier to achieve than others. But I think the biggest thing you can do is to decide, I will not believe the lies the bullies use to hurt me, I will trust God.

We serve a God who sees us loved, precious, redeemed, valuable and beautiful, who sent his own son to die in our place.

Try praying this prayer from my article, I am Getting Bullied from ThinkingAboutSuicide.com:

Dear Lord,

I break the lying words that people are saying about me, in the power and authority of the name and blood of Jesus. I ask that you replace those words with loving words you use to describe me; precious, loved, beautiful, smart, full of promise, a miracle, and wonderful. Give me your power, strength and truth to believe your words instead of the lies. Please block and cancel lying words and any thoughts of suicide – in the power and authority of the name and blood of Jesus. Thank you for giving me a hope and a future. In Jesus name, Amen.

So you see, it’s possible to find God in surviving bullying. Check out the new Bully movie as well as Paul Coughlin on how to Bully-proof your kids from CBN.com:

To discover more about how to have a relationship with God, go to GodTest.com.

©Linda Evans Shepherd. Linda is the President of Right to the Heart ministries, publisher of Finding God Daily, and pens many of our articles.  She’s also the author of over 30 books and a national speaker.

 

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