I think I need to write. And it is exactly at this crossroads where I just want my bed to plop right down in the middle of the road where I can curl up under my covers and snuggle with my pillow and ask God for clarity.
It is at this point where I have to choose what is healthiest for me… then actually do it; something that is becoming more salient these past weeks: doing what I say I believe in.
On the outside, I might seem like a human being who, for the most part, has her life together: a trajectory, (an awesome one at that – grad school at the top school in the nation for social work), joyfully and passionately pursuing it, good health, close relationships with those she loves most… Additionally, she is one that professes a strong faith and intense, fierce love for Jesus, has a strong inner compass for justice and holds people accountable to their word.
Hmmm. There is more to the picture. This human being is also just that…human: imperfect, struggles with doubt, insecurity, body image, is easily angered…passive aggressively acts on it… Although these things only partly define me and although I know where my true worth and identity rest – in the righteousness given to me by God through Jesus’ sacrifice of his life for ME – I still often fail to put into practice what I preach.
I am learning to align my words, thoughts, beliefs, heart, and most importantly God’s will for my life.
This scene literally ripped my heart open. So many of my friends, men and women equally, have told me how good the movie Wonder Woman is and that I have to see it. It was almost annoying how many people told me I would love it and had to watch it.
There was no resistance on my part to seeing the movie, just an intentionality of timing. This movie watching experience could not be taken lightly. I knew to take the ratings and rave reviews with a grain of salt because indeed, it is Hollywood, after all – an industry with no problem exploiting women, exploiting flesh, degrading language and the human experience to those oft used “four letter words” and the fiery explosions, fighting, degrading sex scenes, and pure muscle power for the sake of profit and fame.
BUT….I had hope.
I trusted that in some way, this film would be transformational, not only as setting a huge standard for young girls and women globally – but for me as well.
SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE STOP READING.
Not knowing anything about the comic books of Wonder Woman, I didn’t catch on, until the moment he got on that plane full of the poison gas, that Steve Trevor was sacrificing himself for the lives of thousands – that despite Diana giving up on humanity (at least for several moments) he was willing to do what he knew was right. He held onto hope, seeing his life not as his own, but rather seeing beyond himself, acknowledging the bigger picture and giving his life for the purpose of giving others FREEDOM.
This happens at the very end of the movie and by the time Diana killed Ares (aka Satan), decided to help humanity become the better version of itself, and everything came to a close, I was desperately fighting back sobs that were forcing themselves out to mourn Steven’s sacrifice and death.
It struck me deep like a sword and I couldn’t wrap my mind around anything else. Tears streamed down my face as I said good-bye to my friends, tears streamed down my face as I drove home and got ready for bed, and tears streamed down my face as I fell asleep.
In the morning, the tears were still there, but the sobs came out as well, the heaving, the open flow of pain and hurt…actually mourning and grief and I reached out to my friends asking them to pray for me. But it was one friend in particular, who doesn’t necessarily label herself a Christian, but is the most Christlike person I know (aside from Jesus, ha), texted me two short sentences that ripped me apart like a vulnerable child:
“Sacrifice scenes really get you – Rogue One too”
It was in that moment that it dawned on me what was happening and why these raw emotions started exploding forth.
It has taken me 7 years, since I seriously committed my life to following Jesus, well actually, all 30 years of my life, to fully grasp, receive, mourn, AND grieve the sacrifice that Jesus made giving his life for humanity, suffering for hours being beaten and tortured before breathing his last, so that I might have the FREEDOM to live life at it was intended for me to live.
Ever since I started giving Young Life talks, there was one that I could never fully connect with – although I believed it with all my heart for the children I was sharing it with, I was never able to accept it for myself. I just couldn’t. I wanted to, but the wall was too high, it was too thick, too protected, and removed from the center of the battle. That wall protected my heart, but this wasn’t a form fitting wall, close in proximity, hugging the curves of my heart; this wall was secured 3 miles, 15,840 feet from my heart, so far that I couldn’t even hear the beating of my own life, but it sure provided ample protection to prevent even the slightest painful experience from entering in. My heart was safe, protected, secured. I’m good.
When I talked about Jesus dying for us at Young Life Club, I said sincerely and genuinely, fully-believing in this next statement, “Even if YOU were the only person living on this earth, Jesus would have sacrificed his life so that you would be able to live freely.” I always came home after one of those nights thinking to myself, “But would he really have done that for me? Well, he doesn’t need to, I’m fine…”
Last night, when I watched Wonder Woman and I watched Steve Trevor sacrifice (by the way, it was NO small sacrifice) his life for the freedom of others, something ripped open in me. This morning as the tears continued as I journaled. I opened my Bible to John chapter 19 and there glaring back at me from the middle of the page was the title: The Crucifixion.
I broke apart. Rather, I was torn apart, and I read, for the first time, the account of Jesus being murdered, taking it personally. I screamed inside, “No! Jesus, don’t do it! Stand up for yourself, you can!” I cried, “Don’t let them do this to you! It’s wrong! It’s unjust!” “Jesus, don’t leave me! Why are you doing this? I’ll be all alone without you. Where will my hope go? What am I supposed to do?!” One last desperate plea, “You CAN’T leave me!”
(WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE BELOW)
I kept reading…”they beat him 39 times, they shoved a crown of thorns into his skull, they put him in a purple robe, mocked him, and beat him as a “king”, they struck him in the face, they spit on him, they hurled insults at him…they crucified him…” His own people. His own people, racial, ethnically, religiously, took his life.
My head in my hands, I heaved and sobbed and couldn’t stop. I relented and let it wash over me. I grieved Jesus’ death for the first time. I accepted his death for me and it was horrible.
When the tears stopped and the emotions that washed over me receded like the tide in an ocean, knowing it will eventually come back, I laid back down into bed and rested… thanking Jesus, telling him I love him. Because I do. And I truly see now that he loves me.
Jesus’ death didn’t stop there because he came back to life and is now living, just invisibly to our eyes, but he is with us, he is with me.
I am so thankful that I live in a time in human experience to be able to visually see works of art created to extract humanity’s deepest thoughts and emotions that challenge us to rumble with ourselves, to fight the good fight, to pursue justice embracing innocence, and to live the life we were created to live, acknowledging that it’s not only about the singular “me” but about so much more…it’s about how to love one another well and even demonstrate love, through our actions, for those that don’t deserve it.
Or who we believe in…
I will go forth doing my best to be the best version of myself and practice tenderness, acceptance, and love with those in my life and who’s lives are yet to be met. I resolve to align my faith with my actions…and furthermore….I will equip myself to be a BADASS for justice.