Helping like Jesus. What I learned from “What About Bob?”

There aren’t many better summertime comedies than ‘”What About Bob?”

It ranks right up there with “The Great Outdoors,” in terms of movies you can turn on regardless your company and fully expect everyone to enjoy.

If you haven’t ever seen it, what’s your deal?

I’m just kidding, kind of, but seriously, it’s worth your time. For now though, I’ll give you the skinny on it.

Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a guy with multiple phobias who decides to follow his psychiatrist, Doctor Leo Marvin played by Richard Dryfess, on vacation. Here, just watch the trailer.

So basically the entire movie Dr. Marvin is trying to get rid of Bob instead of trying to help him. He is constantly refusing to connect with Bob on a personal level despite the fact his family is falling in love with the dude. Oh, and he also let Bob spend the night once and sleep in his “jammies.”

In short, Dr. Marvin is a jerk.

Of course, I’ve known this was the storyline since I first saw the movie in the theater in 1991, but it wasn’t until the other day watching it that I realized just how quickly Dr. Marvin picks up on Bob’s biggest need.

Following Bob’s first visit to his office, (yeah, the one where he fakes Tourette’s)  Dr. Marvin describes Bob’s condition into a tape recorder.

“A multi-phobic personality characterized by acute separation anxiety and extreme need for family connections,” Dr. Marvin says.

Within ten minutes of meeting Bob, Dr. Marvin realizes Bob really needs some level of personal connection. He realized exactly how he could start to help the man who was just rolling around on his floor faking a cardiac arrest. Because I mean, if you fake it, you obviously don’t have it.

But that didn’t fit into Dr. Marvin’s plan, it didn’t mesh with his timing, it wasn’t easy. I mean, he was headed off to vacation in New Hampshire, not Fire Island, with the fam, so taking the time to assist with the most basic need of another human being wasn’t on the agenda.

What a jerk, I thought as I watched. What kind of person refuses to help someone simply because it’s not a good time?

And then, the answer hit me. The kind of person I am.

I do this all the time. I’m forever seeing another human with a need I can help with, but yet failing to take advantage of the opportunity because I feel like I have something more pressing to do.

I mean, it’s one thing to not realize a person’s need or to be unable to help in any way, but to be honest, there are times when I don’t help people simply because I’d rather not.

What a jerk.

If there’s one thing I know about Jesus, it’s that he’s the polar opposite of a jerk.

Jesus was constantly sensing the needs of others and then stepping up to help, regardless of whether or not it was convenient.

Case in point, when Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem he noticed this short tax collector whose needed to be shown some love. I doubt having dinner at Zacchaeus’ place was on the travel itinerary, but in order to help Zacchaeus, that’s exactly what Jesus did.

To be honest, I’m not really good at providing impromptu assistance like that. And by not good, I mean awful.

That’s something I’ve got to work on, because I need, and want, to be a lot more like Jesus and a lot less like Dr. Marvin.


— @TravisKWilliams




About travman44

I work as a reporter for a newspaper in southwest Virginia. I play as a writer specializing in deep thoughts on shallow, and occasionally not so shallow, subjects. I'm also a former history teacher, bible college alum, and lover of the NBA and kids' breakfast cereals. It's a delicate blend. -- @TravisKWilliams on Twitter
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s