In 1993 I was living in Modesto, CA. I was depressed as I had ever been for reasons I wont go into here but if you Google my name its not hard to figure out, living on $500 a month that I earned working in a day care, watching all of my friends do the normal young-adult things that seemed impossible to me. It seemed more likely to me to be able to fly myself to the moon than to do something normal like go on a date, get to class on time, or go an entire day without a panic attack. It was bad.
You could still see a movie for cheap back then, and tried to go as often as I could because I liked when the lights went down and I could feel tucked-in. The big screen and loud sound system were enough to hold my attention and let me forget about myself for a while. It was pure escapism, so not a great psychological technique for survival, but it didn't cause much damage to me or anyone else, so I indulged. And so when someone asked if I wanted to see Alive, I was delighted to say yes.
For the uninitiated, Alive is a movie about....well, cannibalism. It's a true story about the Uruguayan rugby team who are in a plane crash in the Andes mountains. Despite being searched for, no one is able to find them and they must figure out how to survive and get help. With no food available they resort to cannibalism. They do it in the most ethical way possible, but they still do it. It sounds hideous, and it is, but that movie changed me forever because it gave me hope. I still remember the exact moment in the movie when it clicked for me: they are going to do some terrible things, but they are going to survive - and me too. I knew in that moment that I was going to get out of my depression and get a life. It took 2 decades. But I did it. Leave it to me to find inspiration in a movie about eating human flesh.
But this is where things get complicated for me. It's a question a lot of converts ask...Why didn't I find the church back then? Why didn't God break in and rescue me when I needed it most? Why couldn't I have known the love and goodness I know now back then?
These are unanswerable questions. Or the answer that makes the most sense is that I just wasn't ready yet. But its something I think about a lot. I've had many conversations with other converts who say something similar. I wonder what my life would have been like if I found the church at age 20. Or back at age 8 when I was friends with a member family.