The Cinderella Man Part One

Cinderella ManThe movie Cinderella Man is one of my all time favorite movies depicting the human spirit in the face of absolute adversity and despair. James Braddick was a boxer who fell victim to the great depression of the 1930’s in addition to getting beat up in the boxing ring. If you recall the movie/story, James was a husband, father and “club fighter”, who at one time in his boxing career was well on his way to boxing greatness- like so many he quickly faded away after breaking his hand. James was married and had three young children. Because of his injury, James could no longer make a living as a boxer. He fell into great despair during a time when 30 percent of the country was unemployed and unable to find any work. James was a proud man (like most men) and for a long period of time he refused to accept any help from the government because he did not believe in hand outs. He was a man full of pride and grew up in a time in our history when most men were the sole providers for the family no matter what. His view of the world was that as long as you were able bodied and had two good arms and legs, you would find a way to make money that’s just what a man does. He was true man of principle, character and courage, a rare quality these days. But even with great character and courage, sometimes the circumstances of life are so overwhelming that even a man like James Braddick could not find a way to provide the basic needs of his family…. at least not right away.

One day out of desperation and hunger, Jimmy’s son stole a hunk of salami from the local butcher shop – because even a child is hard wired for survival. Jimmy finds out and is outraged, he takes his son back to the butcher shop to return the salami and has a stern moment with his son; “We don’t steal, no matter what, we never take what does not belong to us”. This is character- do you recognize it?

We live in a world where men and women are not stealing salami but millions and millions of dollars from their stockholders and companies. This character flaw is rampant in our society, and it gets very little notice or attention – we chalk it up to greed and excess. The problem is that this same character flaw can be found in each one of us, we are just not in the position to steal or cheat society/companies out of millions. But how often do we look the other way when we see an injustice and not display the character and black and white view of the world like Jimmy Braddick?

The Cinderella man is the great American comeback story -we love it because each of us can identify with the underdog. We love to see someone who when faced with insurmountable odds is able to rise from the ashes and ultimately be rewarded for their hard work, courage and determination. I believe we all long to be that person of courage, honor and commitment. Jimmy’s motivation and inspiration to look despair in the eyes and overcome such great difficulties was his family. Seeing his family suffer, hungry, sick and in pain drove him to the brink and he had only two choices; deal with it or be swallowed up like so many were back then and now. His choice was to dig deep within himself and through sheer will and determination he made the conscience decision to find a way not matter what the cost to himself……… the biggest price he paid was his pride.

Jimmy needed to be humbled and willing to allow society and friends to help him financially and emotionally.

“If we were humble, nothing would change us neither praise nor discouragement”.
Mother Teresa

Jimmy had to be vulnerable, which is not a very comfortable place to be when our identity is wrapped up in our careers and/or possessions.

Jimmy had to focus on the moment, he could not take the problems he was facing at that moment in time and project them into the future- if it’s this bad now how bad is it going to be next year?

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal”.
Hannah More
(1745-1833)

In the great recesses of our being we all have the capacity for greatness. When we see our loved ones suffer and opportunity waning, something within us is triggered. I’m sure science has names for all of the chemicals and endorphins that are released during moments of crisis. We have all heard the stories of men and women who displayed supernatural strength- lifting cars and moving buses to save a child or loved one. You may be familiar with the bible story of the great Sampson. who not unlike Braddick endured much suffering and loss. When pushed to the brink he eventually found himself standing between two colossal pillars and with brute strength thanks to God’s power, Sampson regained his strength and collapsed the pillars on top of those who were seeking him harm.

Is it possible to take this power and bottle it for the times when we need it most?

The question is; can we sustain this seemingly supernatural courage and determination over a period of days, weeks, months, years or a lifetime?

James Braddick certainly had sustained this over a period of years. We know he had moments of weakness and doubt, times when he was lying in his cold damp basement apartment questioning his manhood, dwelling on the choices he made in his life that may have contributed to his predicament and asking himself if had anything left in him, could he go the distance?? James was also a man of faith, albeit weak and clumsy at times however he was sincere in his belief in God who he continued to thank along with his family for the stale bread they were about to eat.
Fortunately for Jimmy he did not linger in those doubtful moments- his desperate prayers, determination and fortitude coupled with the inspiration of his wife and kids was stronger than his doubt and fear. Is it as easy as mustering up the courage and going for it? I don’t think so, I believe we all need to have an “aha” moment, some event in our lives that ignites a spark and sets us on a new path. For each of us it will be very different, but I can tell you the result will be no less dramatic if we purpose to go the distance!

We all need courage- but first you need hope. For me my hope is in God. For you it may be something else, but I sincerely believe that whatever drives you and moves you, God is really the one who is ultimately at the helm. My faith tells me that every man, woman and child is made in the image of the creator. That is why we all have the seeds of greatness in us because we have a great God behind it all. This article is not about Christianity or Religion, but as with any writer it is helpful to know what inspires them and makes them the person they are. You don’t have to agree with me, but you owe it to yourself to listen and learn, because we all have something to offer one another.

Faith is the confidence that we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see
Hebrews 11:1

Each one of us has a stories and experiences that have molded us into the people we are today.

I would dare to say that every one of us has learned a little something from those experiences which need to be shared.

How humble are you? What stories are you willing to share at the risk of being vulnerable?

Movie ImageClick to watch a preview of the movie

2 Responses to “The Cinderella Man Part One”

  1. Cinderella Man is a wonderful movie about surviving in tough times. I believe the Great Depression was a time when God disciplined the lives of many people and because of it, they came out stronger and with greater humility.
    Little did they know that they would need that strength to face a World War.
    Not to seem fatalistic, but I sometimes wonder if that’s what God is doing again. My own life has changed drastically during this recession as I am still searching for employment while depending on others for help. I never would have thought it would be this way during a successful career.
    I pray God will one day soon give me the opportunity to step back into the ring. Thanks for your blog and may the Lord bless you and your family.

  2. I wasn’t aware of some of the info that you mentioned so I want to just say thank you.

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