Loving People as They Are

Forrest Gump is one of my favorite movies.  I have it downloaded onto both of my Kindles, just in case I need it.  I watch it fairly regularly because no matter what my mood, it makes me happy.

I recently got into a couple of conversations about the character of Forrest Gump, which is something I actually ponder on a lot.  My husband says no one thinks about him as much as I do!  But I think the great thing about Forrest Gump, the overreaching theme that I see in it, is that Forrest loves people as they are.

Forrest loved Jenny from the start.  He rewarded her innocent kindness with a lifetime of unconditional love.  Through the years, she demonstrated over and over that she wasn't "good enough" for him but he loved her anyway.  His love for her had nothing to do with anything she had to do for him, or earning it, or being good enough.  His love for her was his commitment to love her, even when she wasn't exactly worthy.  When all of his letters to Jenny were returned unopened, he loved her still.  He didn't call her to account of it when he saw her again.  He just loved her.

But it wasn't just with Jenny that we see this unconditional love.  Lieutenant Dan was basically a jerk to Forrest from the moment they met.  He was sarcastic, and that only got worse after Lieutenant Dan's injury.  Lieutenant Dan went so far as to blame and accuse Forrest of robbing him of his destiny to die as a hero.  Forrest in some ways became his caregiver, and then his benefactor on the shrimping boat, rewarding and loving his friend even when his friend was an ornery jackass who "didn't deserve" it.

With Forrest, there was no such thing as not deserving, not being worthy, or having to earn it.  He just loved them, as they were, no conditions.

I was explaining recently why I prefer this love story over any romantic comedy or sappy romance story.  Romantic comedies almost always end with the guy getting the girl after a struggle and living happily ever after.  Forrest Gump gets his girl but not for long, but it still doesn't change him.  His love goes on.  That is a true love story.

Forrest Gump was a simpleton, but in some ways he really got it more than most of us do.  We overcomplicate things with our expectations.  We operate on a "tit-for-tat" basis, where when we get hurt we withdraw our affection or seek to inflict damage.

Forrest Gump ended up wealthy and happy, and never through intrigue or conniving, but always by doing his best, doing it wholeheartedly, and giving back in full where it was due.  Who couldn't learn from that example?

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