The Fear of Old Man Marley

If you’re like me, you are likely to begin watching classic holiday movies this Thanksgiving weekend.


One of my all time favorites is Home Alone. I’ve seen it several times but always enjoy it. One particular scene stands out to me as I have become so passionate about the subject of courage in our everyday lives.

You may remember Kevin stops into a church on Christmas Eve as he prepares for his battle with the Wet Bandits.

While he is sitting in a pew listening to a children’s choir practice old man Marley sees him and comes over to talk with Kevin. If you’re not familiar with the movie Kevin is terrified of old man Marley because of stories he’s heard about him from his older siblings and friends. The old man sees the startled look on Kevin’s face and quickly reassures him that the rumors about him are not true.

Marley tells Kevin the reason he is in church is to see his granddaughter sing because he can’t be there for the actual service because he and his son are not on speaking terms and he wouldn’t be welcome. He goes on to say that he and his son haven’t spoken for a long time and he misses him. You can watch most of the clip here or read the transcript below:

The rest of the conversation goes like this:

Kevin: If you miss him why don’t you call him?

Marley: I’m afraid if I call him he won’t talk to me.

Kevin: How do you know?

Marley: I don’t know. I’m just afraid he won’t.

Kevin: No offense, but aren’t you a little old to be afraid?

Marley: You can be a little old to be a lot of things. You’re never too old to be afraid.

Kevin goes on to tell Marley that he understands his fear and tells him the story of how he used to be afraid of his basement. One day he simply made the decision to go down there and he found out it was really “no big deal.”

Marley asks Kevin, “What’s your point?”

Kevin: My point is you should call your son.

Marley: What if he won’t talk to me?

Kevin: At least you’ll know and then you can stop being worrying about it and you won’t have to be afraid anymore.

Sure, it’s just a movie but there is great wisdom in Kevin’s words. The fear we create in our heads is often far greater than the actual thing we fear.

Whether it’s a relationship fear as in old man Marley’s case, or a job change, or confronting a challenging person in our lives, or whatever your fear is doing something about it takes courage.

As Kevin says if you take that step of courage, “at least you’ll know and then you can stop worrying about it and you won’t have to be afraid anymore!”

Kevin goes on to say that Marley should make the call for the sake of his granddaughter. “I’m sure she misses you,” says Kevin. As with many of our fears other people pay a price when we don’t have the courage to face our fears.

For many people the holidays are very difficult to face because of similar situations to old man Marley. For the most part, I have been fortunate to not have any major issues with family around the holidays so my credibility to comment on this issue is limited. If you are in this type of situation maybe the solution is as simple as Kevin says. Reach out and find out. At least you’ll know and then you won’t have to be afraid anymore. The solution is simple but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

Do you need to be courageous this week?

Proverbs 3:5-6


This is an updated version of a post that originally ran on Dec. 1, 2014.

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  • Cindy Mooers

    I like this story of Kevin an old man Marley. Thanks for sharing. As most “older” people I know would attest, there is a young aspect to us… and that includes some of our fears.

    On Thanksgiving Day I read a great quote that fits this discussion:

    “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength”.
    Corrie Ten Boom

    I can lean into that one!
    Enjoy your blessed week,

    • Cindy, I love that Corrie Ten Boom quote. When I think about people who had a lot to worry about she would be near or at the top of the list! What an example of living a life of strength in the face of incredible hardship! Thanks, Cindy, and blessings to you on your week as well!