I did not read the book, A Man Called Ove, but I did see the movie based upon it called A Man Called Otto, starring Tom Hanks. I recently watched it again and enjoyed it even more. Some critics didn’t like it and only saw a grumpy old man. In my opinion, they missed the heart of the story and are callous souls! Ironic how the movie addresses that very thing!
The movie is about a man whose wife recently passed away. We get glimpses of their life together and learn quickly he is lost without her. Otto is an extremely high “C” on the DISC scale…to the point of OCD. He just retired and has lived in the same neighborhood for most of his adult life. Everyone knows Otto, but everyone annoys him. He has no purpose, and he’s had enough.
Otto attempts to kill himself. True to an analytical person, he plans it out precisely. He didn’t count on God showing up, though! New neighbors move in, and she sees past his rough and tough exterior, wiggling her way into his heart, albeit broken. In each suicide attempt, God interrupts!
Introduce a homeless cat who choose Otto as his human, and he begins to consider living. Add to that a neighbor in desperate need, and he now has purpose once again. As he puts it, “I have things to do.” He befriends an outcast, and begins to allow people back in.
The story is more complex than I can explain in a blog and is full of tender moments as well as humor and laugh-out-loud scenes. I encourage you to see it. The lesson Otto learns is one God wants us all to learn: We need each other, and none of us can do life alone.
Pastor Ryan of our North Valley Church shared a twist on the “better to give than receive” concept. If no one receives, then no one can be blessed by giving! When we are stubborn and prideful, we think we don’t need anyone or their help. This blocks them of their blessing…not to mention how rude to not accept other’s gifts.
We are expected to be both, and Otto had to realize he needed support. He was broken, and he need helped putting his life back together. The flip side is how self-focused he became in his grief that he forgot to give. When he began to open his heart to give again, he realized how wonderful he felt. He had purpose!
This isn’t a Christian movie, but you cannot deny God’s hand in all of it from preventing Otto’s suicide attempts to bringing him a new family. A fractured community is brought back together, a family grows, and cat finds a forever home, begging the question: “Who saved who?”
God wants us all to 1) Cherish life because it is a gift, even in the darkest hours. 2) Recognize we need Him as well as others. 3) Not get so wrapped up in our own pity that we forget to love others. 4) Graciously accept help and support from others. 5) Remember, God never intended us to feel or be alone. He IS with us always.
If you haven’t seen it, on-demand it. You will find it entertaining and inspiring! Be sure to have some tissues handy. Spoiler alert – the cat steals the show!
Emotionally intelligence is what allows us to push past ourselves and consider other’s feelings. EQ is extremely low in our country right now, and social media continues to feed a narcissism. Combat it by growing your EQ! Take my assessment and spend some time with me learning how you can improve your relationships and be a better human.