by Jenna Olson Popp
I recently watched the movie Beautiful Boy on a flight home. Based on true stories, it chronicles the experience of a father walking alongside his son as he fights his years-long addiction to meth. Both the son (Nic Sheff) and the father (David Sheff) have written books on their experiences, and I’ve listened to some captivating interviews with both of them, so I thought I’d check out the movie.
Needless to say, it was eye-opening.
Nic begins using nearly every drug he can obtain at the end of high school. He uses meth the most. His continual use leads him to run away from rehab. After the rehab director calls David notifying him that they will not look for him, David drives into the city, driving all night in the rain to find his son laying, drenched, next to a dumpster. Sprinting out of his car, David lifts Nic onto his shoulders and walks him back to the car and brings him home.
At one point, Nic steals $8 from his little brother’s savings for drugs. After dealing with the repercussions of a distraught child, David confronts Nic, naming that this is not the Nic he knows but that there is a way out.
Eventually, Nic overdoses, and it easily could have – and should have in every medical sense – taken his life. Of course, David is there, in the waiting room, anticipating his son’s death or survival, feeling the weight of guilt after not being able to do enough. But then, David walks with Nic into a new life, proclaiming that there is still hope.
This movie is told from the parent’s point of view, and having never been a parent or in close relation to someone who is bound by the power of addiction, there’s not much I thought I would understand personally. But early on in the movie, it hit me.
This is who God is. Beautiful Boy is a 2 hour story of who God is in the 21st century.
He searches all night in the pouring rain for his son, his beloved son, to bring him home. He reaches out to medical professionals to try to understand what the drugs are doing to his son’s brain. He names the goodness in him, though his son had accepted himself as a failure. He sits in the waiting room, waiting to face the death of his own flesh and blood after trying so hard to help him.
And when he comes out alive, he holds his son up as they walk outside, ever present as he embarks on a new way of life.
This is our God. A God who enters into our deepest darkness, never losing hope in the beloved creations that we are. A God who never lets another relapse, mess up, or disappointment keep God from showing up in the waiting room. A God who will go searching for us, year after year, loving us more than life itself.
And this God is not distant. This God shows up in everyday people like us, everyday parents, everyday situations. In the valley of the shadow of death, God does not leave us. That is the hope and promise of Jesus Christ. God is here.
[You can watch Beautiful Boy on Amazon Prime Video.]
*Photo credit: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1226837/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1