The film Like Father, which stars Kelsey Grammar as Harry and Kristen Bell as Rachel, is a reconciliation story, and that's primarily why I loved it. There is so much brokenness in this world, so many loved ones estranged from one another, so much pain and regret. Unity and peace are relationship ideals, which we all desire, but we have to work so hard to achieve them that many people find it easier to cut people out of their lives instead.
Burning bridges is a simpler process than mending fences. Building walls is a less complicated option than tearing them down. Wait a minute! Look at those metaphors literally. The opposite is in fact true. The truth is, it requires more time, effort and care to build a wall than it does to destroy it. Logic is turned on its head when it comes to relationships.
Harry is a workaholic father who walks out on his wife and daughter, Rachel, because it is too hard. Rachel hates what her father did, but her remedy for the pain is to become a workaholic herself. (Hence the title of the film). On her wedding day, she does business on the phone outside the church while the music plays, and the congregation waits expectantly for her to walk down the aisle. The groom wonders about the delay as familiar feelings torment him. Finally she enters, but during the ceremony, her phone, which she hid inside the bouquet before entering the church, falls on to the floor. The groom pulls her aside and says he cannot marry her. She loves her job more than him.
Unbeknownst to Rachel, Harry is at the wedding.They see each other for the first time since Rachel was a child, but she runs away, upset by being jilted, and shocked to see Harry. Later he comes and knocks on the door of her apartment, thus beginning the reconciliation which initially takes place courtesy of copious amounts of alcohol at a bar, before continuing on the pre-booked honeymoon cruise.
Like Father is a very funny film with heart, and a poignant message about relationships and the choices people make.
The emotions experienced by Harry, which ultimately caused him to abandon Rachel, are not uncommon. Many men become husbands and fathers before they are emotionally mature enough. Some survive. They fight against the selfishness and learn to excel and flourish in these important relationships. Many others, flee. I doubt any of those who run from responsibility, escape the guilt and shame associated with their selfishness.
Most of us acknowledge that people are more important than things. Why then, do we live as though the reverse is true? The man who works so much that he has no time to invest in his marriage says he is providing for his family. He is doing what he has to do. Challenge! I met a man like this once. He said he had thought he was doing the right thing in making sure his wife and children had everything they needed and more, but when his marriage fell apart and his children stopped talking to him, he realized that his family wanted him, not his money.
Relationships are hard, but we are built for them. We are designed to prioritize each other. We were created to love and be loved. You don't have to look far to see evidence of how wrong we have got it. Invest in people and relationships above all else. Forgive others, forgive yourself...be reconciled to one another, and find peace.