Movie Idea For An Interested Screenwriter

For any screenwriters searching for a movie idea for their next screenplay, here is an idea: a faith-based, child abuse, mental illness overcoming story.

I welcome any interested screenwriter in writing a screenplay based upon my life story. Below is a synopsis that would hopefully give that individual ideas in what to write about. Further ideas can be also developed from my mental illness recovery story, found on this website.

SYNOPSIS:

A Miracle In Need Of Grace

A MIRACLE IN NEED OF GRACE is a life story of a man (Joe) struggling to rise above overwhelming life challenges, including manic depression, OCD, rejection, and childhood trauma from abuse. A man who daily dreams of feeling safe, acceptance, love, competence, and contentment, in opposition to his nightmares of being perceived “no good” and “unworthy of love”. A man tyrannized by fear, personal doubts, and past failures daily but in spite of all, often believes God created him with a purpose to change the world.

The story begins when Butch, a 17-year old cocaine addict, is found homeless by a couple with a 16-year old daughter, Samantha . Unaware of his vices, the family lets Butch stay with them until he gets Samantha pregnant. Married and unemployed with a boy named Joe, Samantha and Butch rely upon Butch’s drug money for income. After violent Butch sticks a gun to her head, Joe and Samantha flee south to escape Butch.

As a toddler, Joe would panic when seeing a man in church. His physically abusive stepfather would also belittle Joe, conditioning Joe to heavily focus upon and try to be perfect in his behaviors, praying it would eliminate the abuse. When around people, Joe’s mind would first imagine him doing despicable things which would easily incite others to hate and reject Joe, and then fear and believe that Joe will commit the act, even if the belief and fear is irrational. Joe’s illness tricks Joe to think that everyone – including those who love him the most – will treat Joe like his stepfather if Joe did something wrong. (Worst of all, Joe often fears God will abuse and treat Joe like an abusive dad if Joe makes mistakes.)

Joe’s “Gomer Pyle-like actions” often makes him the butt of many jokes. While marching in the Navy with shipmates, Joe, in the middle of the group, falls down to the ground after his foot stumbles into a hole, causing a chain-reaction of walking soldiers to trip over the fallen person in front of them. One time, when driving a car, Joe slams on the brakes after almost passing a road he wanted to turn on; consequently, the tailgating semi driver behind him swerves to avoid Joe, causing the semi-truck to flip over. After a basketball game, Joe enters the wrong door when trying to take a shower: thus, the crowd who is exiting the game sees his naked body. Finally, Joe wants to ask a female bank teller out on a date so he writes a note saying “Can I buy you a drink at McDonalds after work?” and slips it under the teller’s table. People in the bank suddenly get nervous, hoping they won’t get robbed.

Joe incorrectly believes self-worth is based upon performance, rather on God’s grace. Trying to prove “Joe is good” motivates Joe to achieve self-respect by doing great things; unfortunately, his problems create many roadblocks in his dreams of success. In the Navy, Joe lasts only four weeks in nuclear reactor school and nine months in the machinist mate program due to his disability. Graduating college is a “battle for survival” as his mental illness makes getting good grades difficult and leads many annoyed teachers and students to want him removed from school. Joe tries ten times harder than others to succeed – distress and shame are often the fruits of his labor.

One thing about Joe: he never gives up. He keeps on trying. He does his best to keep on believing. However, two trauma experiences in Joe’s life, in addition to everything else, almost destroyed Joe.

In tenth grade, after Joe impulsively makes a sexual comment to a female teacher, the instructor heads Joe to the principal’s office. Knowing the principal will notify Joe’s stepfather of the crime, Joe fears getting abused at home. Desperately hoping the teacher won’t tell, Joe’s manic mind if full of panic, confusion, and racing thoughts. Meaning no harm, Joe puts his hands on her shoulders to turn her around so he can beg for help. The next thing you know, the principal walks by, and Joe spends a month in a psychiatric hospital for “trying to choke a teacher”, something Joe didn’t try to do.

In the military, after getting chewed out by a company commander, Joe’s memories of getting belittled and abused by his stepfather leads Joe to have an emotional breakdown alone in the bathroom. Manic, Joe cries out: “I’m going to kill him.” Unluckily, a senior chief military officer witnesses the event, and Joe, who doesn’t want to hurt anyone, is discharged for “threatening to kill an officer”.

Five years later after the military incident, severely depressed, driving home from college, Joe seriously considers committing suicide, by running his car off the road, until God plays a song on the radio which gives Joe hope. Joe feels God telling him: “Don’t be afraid. Just trust me!” Joe later believes he hears God telling Joe that “I have purposed you to change the world.”

Nine months later, experiencing much anxiety and depression, Joe experiences OCD obsessions of killing himself. Thankfully, he doesn’t act upon the obsessions. He doesn’t want to die, but irrationally fears he might take his life. Joe prays to God for safety, and later confides in his psychology instructor, who subsequently leads Joe to a psychiatrist who diagnoses Joe’s bipolar disorder and OCD.

Joe graduates from college, expecting to find a dream job. Unfortunately, his terrible previous work record prevents him from finding employment in his field; the only job he can find is making $200 cash per 40 hours doing menial work for a dishonest employer. Joe feels depressed and disbelieves in the future success of his tainted dream of proving self through monetary success and achievement. He again believes “he is no good and a failure”. However, through a future therapist and through life, Joe learns lessons upon grace, surrender, contentment, and faith.

Just like Goodwill Hunting, Joe meets a Christian therapist who strives to rehabilitate Joe’s mental and spiritual issues. Spiritually, Joe learns that our self-worth is not based upon performance, but the fact that we are a special creation of God, which all starts from grace, as it is believing and accepting God’s grace that we become a child of God. And Grace says “we don’t have to strive to do great things or be perfect in order to be loved, considered good, and accepted, by God”. Grace and everything grace gives is a “gift of God” (not by works, do we do, to attain grace.) Once we realize our self-worth is not determined by performance, we then – through the power of God and His direction – strive to fully complete our unique God-given life purpose He has given to each of us, for His glory. In addition, to reach God’s dream for our lives, our faith must be stronger than our doubts or unbelief, and we must also daily surrender our will and fears to Him. Finally, Joe is taught he must forgive those who hurt him, including his abusive stepfather.

What Joe truly believes about what his therapist taught him gets tested. During a camping trip where Joe is repeatedly belittled by his stepfather, Joe finally in his heart truly believes “he is a special creation of God” as he screams out to his abuser “I don’t believe in those lies. You’re wrong. I am good. Grace says ‘I am unconditionally loved and accepted by God.’’ Although wounded by a fist, Joe lastly finds liberation over his trauma. This was the first time Joe stood up to the fears of his abuser.

This event also becomes the beginning roots of reconciliation between Joe and his abusive stepdad. After getting punched by his stepdad, Joe asked his stepdad “why do you hate me so much? Did you enjoy abusing me as a child?” His stepdad replied: “I don’t hate you. Every day I regret all the bad things I have done to you. I ask God to forgive me and for Him to make a way to reverse the past, but God won’t. I have an anger problem that I cannot control.” Joe forgives his abuser and his stepdad subsequently seeks psychological help for his issues.

Joe eventually gets on social security disability income. Joe then feels led by God and decides to become a VISTA volunteer (in ViSTA volunteer program, government pays a volunteer money to help pay for living expenses in exchange for doing community work) for a disability organization. Unconfident and insecure, even though he is doing volunteer work for a company who are disability accommodating to disabled workers, Joe is now a program coordinator for the Jackson Talent Exchange.

The Jackson Talent Exchange was based upon the Time Dollars program, where people exchanged their talents and time to help one another in need. Leading the Jackson Talent Exchange, Joe helped the community get built, as individual needs got met, talents were utilized, relationships were built, and people felt good about themselves for doing decent acts of love toward his fellow brother and sister. Nurtured by co-workers who are also disabled, Joe grows in his abilities and confidence by leading people to help community members, including those with disabilities in the process of utilizing their talents to help one another in need. As a VISTA volunteer, Joe impacted a community of all kinds of people, including those like Joe who also had insecurities and low self-esteem, by teaching himself and others valuable lessons: that everyone has a something, great or small, to offer to society, that there is power and strength in loving relationships, that people have the capacity to love, care for, and be good to one another, and that a person is to be, and can be, loved for being solely a human, regardless of how much the person has something to offer, and is able to contribute, to people and society. God is a god of grace who loves us unconditionally and completely even if we have nothing to offer and are considered “no good” by the world.

Joe becomes a Patch Adams who uses humor, compassion, and encouragement to uplift the heartbroken. Similar to how Norman Vincent Peale overcame his fears and inferiorities to save millions through The Power of Positive Thinking, Joe shares his testimony and experiences of hope and freedom – using his web site, online writings, and you tube videos – across the globe, through the Internet. Over a million people hear his story, in addition to his teachings about God, loving others and not hatred, hope, contentment, self-acceptance, grace, overcoming adversity, perseverance, etc.

Only God truly knows if He gave Joe a special revelation to change the world; if he allowed bipolar symptoms to create grandiosity in Joe’s mind; or if it is plain wishful thinking by Joe, driven by an OCD passion to prove to all that Joe is competent, proven by completing difficult tasks. Does it really matter?

Joe spent the rest of his life seeking what he believed was God’s will, sacrificed himself for the common good of others, and became a living example of a joyous overcomer. Joe learned to embrace the fact that “God is not like his abusive stepdad”, as Joe stopped blaming God for His illness, abuse, and troubles. Next, Joe learned to love and accept himself and find contentment, in spite of his imperfections. The controls of perfectionism and need for approval of others in Joe’s life ceased, and his mental illness also lost its power over Joe. Joe’s therapist, the Jackson Talent Exchange experience, surrender, grace, and contentment lessons learned, God’s grace, and the power of people like his psychology instructor who chose to take an interest in Joe, helped to save Joe’s life. And Joe may have helped the lives of hundred, related to the Jackson Talent Exchange, and countless others, who viewed his web page.

Faith, hope, and love – these things will last forever: but the greatest is Love! Hope is what Joe relied upon during his great trials. When his hope was weak, his faith, although many times, wavering, kept Him strong. However, in the end, it was the love of God and the lessons he learned about God and grace that revitalized Joe’s faith. And that revitalized faith strengthened Joe’s hope, and Joe was able to persevere great odds, and he through God’s power later created great change.

Life is about chasing a dream. The effectiveness of a God-given dream being met is determined by God’s power and our decisions. Difficulties threaten to sabotage that dream, and we often experience what we perceive “delays” and “dead-ends” toward the completing of that dream. Our decisions to follow God’s direction, to have faith, to make sound decisions, and to persevere through the trial, help determine whether or not the dream will come true. To reach dreams, one must have faith that God will always provide deliverance through the storms of life. In every trial or test of faith, God promises deliverance. God delivered Joe through his trials and he will do the same for us if we trust in Him and make sound decisions. And once we trust in God, we let the fate of the dream’s success fall in His will. Romans 8:28, Philippians 4:13, and Jeremiah 29:11-13.

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