Justin Skeesuck and Patrick Gray are lifelong buddies who launch out on a journey they’d planned two years in advance. As they arrive at Saint Jean Pied de Port in France, so begins their journey along the El Camino, a 500 mile pilgrimage from France to northern Spain. Determination is a key ingredient in the successful trek, since Justin suffers with a debilitating disease that has caused a slow atrophying of his limbs.
First of all, I must say, the videography was excellent! I’m a bit sensitive to quality videography as my son specializes in this field, and I am horrified at the poor quality I’ve seen in many faith-based movies or documentaries. But this one is visually engaging. Well done!
The friendship between Justin and Patrick is nothing I have ever seen before, especially with men. Having been born 24 hours apart does not necessarily make a life-long bond. But in this case, the love between the 2 men is astonishing. It immediately brought Jonathan and David to my mind. Their love for one another was pure, self-sacrificial and rare.
While viewing the film, it almost became exhausting to watch Patrick pull and push and lift with unbelievable determination. He found solutions to difficult predicaments like elevators that couldn’t accommodate wheelchairs, and a wheelchair with a broken wheel. Yet in all of his tenacity, devotion, and loyalty (even promising to provide for Justin’s children when Justin is no long with them), Patrick’s admission of how he hadn’t been mindful of his own family’s needs helped me see the “human” side of this machine-like man. He said, “I didn’t like who I had become.” His humility spoke volumes of the reality of Christ in him. A man of his stature and ability doesn’t necessarily easily take the risk of becoming vulnerable.
And yet, it is Justin who must remain vulnerable, though at times he felt it was hard not to feel like a burden to his friends. His arms and legs no longer have the muscle power to even bring a fork to his lips, so carefully and lovingly, his soul-buddy does it for him. Justin smiles, appreciates, and even encourages all whom he encounters. It occurs to him that as others serve him, it brings them joy, which causes him to rethink his occasional suicidal rationalization.
Justin encounters many pilgrims along the El Camino Santiago to aid in his difficult journey. This is an opportunity for Patrick to let go of the reins and let others in on the joy of serving. Rumbling over the rocky terrain and muddy slopes over the 500 mile journey, an exhausted, yet elated group of sojourners finally arrive with high fives on all sides and tearful wives waiting to receive their other halves back safely.
So many lessons learned from this film. Here are just a few:
1) Friendship is a gift. Deeply bonded, loyal-to-the-end friendship is a rarity. Appreciate those the Lord places in your life.
2) Let go of control and allow others the sheer joy of serving.
3) Your circumstances do not have to dictate the direction of your life, your joy, or your peace. You have a choice.
4) There is always something more we can do for another. The more we know we are loved by God and live out of that base, the more love we can invest in others.
Would I recommend this film to everyone I know? YES! It was inspiring to say the least. It encouraged me to take more steps of faith…more risks. The title alone I’ll Push You made me want to push me!
This pilgrimage can parallel our Christian journey through this life. The rough terrain, the uphill climbs, the pleasant straightaways, the fellow sojourners walking alongside and helping one another, the sheer exhaustion and the sheer joy of this life make it worth living. One fine day we’ll arrive at our final destination. We’ll fall into the arms of our Ultimate Loved One and be assured that He, like a faithful friend, had helped us all along.
Do yourself a favor and see this movie, preferably with a good friend.