Friday, April 24, 2009

The Bella in all of us

Twilight Part 3
(Previous Posts: Wall-E, Part 1, Part 2)

Stephanie Meyer did good, didn't she? Millions love it.
Bella, her lead character, is funny, capable, quirky and hopelessly klutzy. She's trapped in a dismal existence...a flower waiting to bloom, unappreciated by all those idiots in that dull town who can't see her true beauty. In other words, she's what we all think we are.

No matter how together and fashionable a girl seems, there is a deep, dark secret we all carried as we grew up. Funny isn't it that we are all quite sure we're the only one who did. But here it is in a nutshell...What if no one ever picks me. What if no one sees me...desires me...thinks I'm smart enough, pretty enough, cool enough...what if I'm the one…the wrong one.

Aisley and I have been talking a lot about it because she’s beginning to see it. If you’ll remember, this is her first year in public school after 7 grades at home with me. Lots of revelation going on for her…and some of it’s even good! One is that even girls who seemingly have it all are riddled with insecurity. Girls who we all look at and just know get a pass on that deep heart longing? Come to find out, they don’t. We all are together, ladies. We all are standing together, young and old, vulnerable to becoming Bella…even if only in our minds.

I say this as a final thought before the actual concerns of the book (don't sigh at me!) because if we women don’t see this, we’ll never awaken from the deception in our flesh. We’ll never know why this stuff resonates so strongly, so clearly within us…beyond how it should…beyond the truth…beyond godliness. We’ll never begin to filter our emotions through the grid of the gospel. When the Bible goes on about how we women are prone to being deceived, it’s not an insult…it’s a revelation for the good of our souls. We will fight when we believe there's a problem. Deny it and we perish without raising a sword.

But we do know how it can go inside of us. We see something…we feel something about it…we move based on how we feel…and we might think about it later if the consequences are bad enough. This attuning to emotion is wired into us and is meant for the good of the see hurt where others might just pass stay and remain because of depth of affection. But we were never meant to be ruled by it. That’s not how the gospel is to work in us.

Do not be conformed to this world,
but be transformed
by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern
what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Instead of being ruled by our feelings, we are instead supposed to be transformed first by the renewing of our minds. Then and only then can we test and feel…the Word says discern or approve…get our heart behind…feel our souls rejoice and be able to know deeply that this is worthy of being rejoiced in…for it would match our Father in its goodness and perfection and be pleasing to Him. Paul said it again to the Ephesians that we are supposed to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

I’ll show you evidence of what I’m talking about in the next post. I know that’s number five. Try to go with me. But for now listen and see if this doesn’t resonate. When we read books like Twilight, we’re not caught up in the uniqueness and structure of its high prose. Even those who praise it don’t try to make it more than it is. What catches us is that it allows us to feel what we all long to feel…caught up…taken away…given to something more than we have…more than we could ever be alone. We are given not to visuals but we are given to fantasies…thoughts…dreaming about what could be. Books like this feed that. They give word and picture to what lies within us.

And again, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing…as long as what is resonating with us is resonating with the good that God is in us…when it stays in its place…when it doesn’t seek what is not ours…when it keeps us eating from the trees God has given and doesn’t tempt us to take what is not ours to have. When our souls rejoice where goodness, rightness, justice, truth are found? Good stuff.

So let me ask you to discern...Do the characters who are given for us to cheer for, are they worthy of cheering? Is evil really evil? Does good shine as good? Are they expressing longings unchecked by a renewed mind or are they actually fighting to overcome that which they know is sinful? Do the characters you love stay within the bounds God’s given? Or do they reach beyond what should be and make you feel like that’s not only okay…it’s what you deserve, too?

And no. I'm not asking if the characters are Christians. I'm asking if they reflect God's truth rightly. Is justice upheld? Or are you asked to sympathize with rebellion against God's ways? Some places in the book, you could say a resounding YES! That's good stuff. Others? Maybe even lots of others? Not so much. The relationship between these two as a whole? Not what we're aiming for with the Ransleben girls. The point is as Paul says...test it...Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.

It's not about what we read really, but checking our hearts as we read so that what is there is filtered through what should be. It's not about the TV show really. Or the movie. Or that conversation. Or anything other thing in the world. The things in the world are we use them, delight in them, approve of them. That's a problem.

God told Isaiah to tell His people this...
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20
Good called good. Evil called evil. Or are we asked to softened where we should stand? Are we asked to feel sympathy or at least stay silent like Adam did in that Garden so that what the characters feel could be delighted in? So that what we feel can be rationalized, too? We have to discern.

But is that really in Twilight? We'll see what you think next time.

P.S. So many of you have been gracious to write me your questions and concerns. I'm hoping this as well as upcoming posts hit some of those issues, but am also preparing a Q&A post for the end. Please keep them coming and we'll see what you think!

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