In 1986’s action film, Top Gun, Ace fighter pilot, Maverick encountered a terrible tragedy. One that he personally blamed himself for. This tragedy weighed heavily on his mind and kept him from accomplishing what he had before him. But how did he overcome these feelings and learn to move forward? Today on Geek Devotions, Dallas takes a look at this film and gives us some practical advice.
1986’s Top Gun is the quintessential Action/Romance of the ’80s. It is the story of Ace fighter pilot, Maverick and his journey to gain the status of “Top Gun.” During one of the training missions, Maverick suffers the tragic loss of his co-pilot and best friend, Goose. As he deals with tragedy, grief, and guilt, he asks, “Am I still fit to fly?” Dealing with grief and guilt is complicated. Yet, we all must deal with it at one point or another. So how do we do it? How do we move past these intense emotions?
In the movie Top Gun, Maverick is struggling with these emotions. Throughout the film, he’s overconfident, overzealous, and reckless in his goal of becoming Top Gun. His risk-taking puts himself and his partner in needless danger and trouble more than a few times. Finally, at one point, Maverick realizes his mistakes, apologizes to Goose, and promises not to put them in danger again. But after the loss of Goose, Maverick is left questioning himself. He’s left wondering if it’s his fault that Goose died. He feels guilty, blaming himself for turning Goose’s wife and child into a widow and orphan. This eats away at him to the point that it begins to interfere with his ability to fly.
Maverick begins to isolate himself in the wake of these emotions. He ignores the advice and comforts his leaders, friends, and loved ones offer. This isolation is a dangerous place. We all will deal with similar emotions that eat away at us. For some of us, our family dynamic may suffer a sudden shift. A sudden financial disaster or emergency could cause it. When these things happen, we tend to isolate ourselves. The voices of doubt, fear, and depression get louder in this isolation. In isolation, the voices of those who genuinely love us and see clearer than us begin to fade.
In the film, in a final act of desperation, Maverick goes to see one of his mentors, Viper. Amid the conversation, Viper says something prolific. To paraphrase, “you’ve been through some amazing, terrible things. So no one would blame you for walking away. Or, you could get back up. Every fighter pilot has to do two things. First, they have to analyze and make decisions as they adjust. They learn from what they’ve done and seen and move forward.” The actual conversation is far more impressive than this paraphrase, but the point is still made.
In the face of tragedy, no one would blame you for quitting. But that’s not your only choice. You can get back up. You can learn from your past, from what you have seen and done, and then move forward. Do something different and better. The only thing that stops us from accomplishing this is pride. Pride causes us to not listen to the people trying to speak life to us. It causes us to listen to the voices that speak down to us.
When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdomProverbs 11:2 (English Standard Version | ESV)
In Maverick’s pridefulness, he thought repeatedly, “it’s my fault; I had complete control.” But it wasn’t his fault. In fact, the pride caused him to back away from the wisdom of others. It wasn’t until Maverick humbled himself and listened to Viper that he was able to get back out there. But, even though he listened and strapped back into the plane, he had to make a decision when he faced another similar situation. Fear and doubt began to rise up in him again, and he had a choice. He could back away or press forward. But, just because you’ve decided to humble yourself and listen to wisdom; doesn’t mean you’re free from facing other fears and doubts down the road. Instead, you continue to walk in humility, saying, “I’m going to press through. I’m going to trust that God will help me through this situation. I’m going to trust in the tools and training given to me. Finally, I will walk through this on my next step.”
Perhaps you’ve experienced some great defeat in your life as of late. Perhaps you’re going through some financial ruin. Perhaps you’re really questioning what you will do… Humble yourself. Lean into the Lord. Pray. Read the word. Seek God in these matters. Seek a wise council of mature individuals who will pray with you and give you true wisdom. Trust that God will care for you as you take your next step. Don’t let this fear overwhelm you today. Press forward and trust in God.