Shaping Influences in “Boyhood”

It’s Oscar month! Have you seen the shows?

Typically between December and February, once Oscar-talk has started, is when I go to all the movies I will see for the entire year. This is so I can have a knowledgable opinion on the nominated shows. Just like with books- I don’t feel like it’s fair to dog one I haven’t read. And in politics, how can I complain if I didn’t vote?

So as I have done the past couple of Februarys, I will devote several posts this month to films I’ve recently seen.  My aim is not to give a thorough review and opinion, but to expose deeper, universal human heart issues hit on through the themes and characters. This year I plan to pull the curtain back on Boyhood, Into The Woods and  Birdman – in that order.Unknown-2

As you may know, Boyhood was filmed over the course of twelve-years, following the main character, Mason (Ellar Coltrane), from age 7 to graduation. As the years pass by, we see how circumstances – such as his parent’s divorce, moving, his parents’ subsequent re-marriages, his stepdad’s abuse of alcohol and of his mother – have affected his relationships and the way he processes the world around him. These such situations have been shaping influences in his life.

All of us have had shaping influences impact us, leading to certain decisions we have made and viewpoints and values we hold. But we can not “blame” any one circumstance or person for causing us to be the way we are. This is because along with shaping influences determining how we respond and adapt is our Godward orientation.


“Godward orientation” is the name pastor and author Tedd Tripp gives in his book Shepherding A Child’s Heart to explain the influence based on our world view. In other words, how circumstances and people affect us will also be filtered through our grid of how we view God and whether we know Christ.

As a parent I find this comforting since some shaping influences on my children’s lives are outside of my control. What I can do though is work hard to shepherd my children’s hearts by giving them gospel lenses to interpret and respond to life’s shaping influences.

For instance, as Tripp says in the book, “Whether people laugh at your child is of little import compared with learning to know God in ways that enable him to respond to the experience of being laughed at.”

In other words, try as we might we can’t protect and shield our kids from every hurtful word, trial or suffering our children will experience, but if we are shepherding them to see God’s truths and to view themselves according to their identity in him than we are giving them the most sure foundation to stand on, no matter what threatens to knock them down. We are giving them eyes to see Christ in all things and in turn the ability to not be crushed, immobilized, angry or bitter.

In the film, Mason couldn’t see his 12 years of boyhood in just three hours like we could on the screen. Likewise, we may not fully see until years later the imprint of events in our lives or those of our children, but by God’s grace and a heart re-oriented toward him, may we get years down the road and see how he carried and shaped us for our good and his glory, no matter what we were up against.




1 thought on “Shaping Influences in “Boyhood”

  1. Pingback: What Haunts the Birdman Often Haunts Us To | house of hatton

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