Friday, November 21, 2003

The Power of Story

On Thursday evenings at 8:00, our weekly family bonding has been watching a human story unfold named "Survivor: Pearl Islands". Its been a few seasons since I followed the show religiously but my wife, 2 daughters and myself have been hooked from the first episode this year. I think its just fun being engaged in something together as my girls are growing older. But my eldest daughter, Alison, has been especially captured by this story. She is 7 and has my make-up. She has a flare for the dramatic and gets deeply involved and enveloped in stories. (Thus my freakishness towards Lord of the Rings) Like many viewers, our family had fallen in love with the passion and valor of Rupert. But it was a matter of time until he got stabbed in the back and voted off as a threat. About halfway through the episode last night, Ali was beginning to realize that Rupert was going to get casted off the island. And so she began to whimper and sniffle with real tears. By the time they got to tribal council, she was beginning to let the tears flow. As Rupert walked away having his torch snuffed out, she was at full scale sobbing. She cried as she went to bed, and my wife reported that after 10 minutes or so, Ali still wasn't asleep because she was still crying. Her heart was completely broken for her friend, Rupert.

Now, you may think I'm a bad father, but I love seeing my daughter "feel" and experience intense emotios. Its how God made us, its a part of us. I don't mean to get all melodramatic and manic about it, I just mean, not allowing the world and its arrows cut off your heart from feeling, its a part of life. I felt so stifled growing up in Church. I had passion and emotion just welling up in me and yet I was taught to be super-rational and calculated about faith and life stories. Well, I now think that the people/institution that wanted to keep Christ following in the realm of the logical are COWARDS. there you go, i said it, and they are fighting words. Afraid to feel, afraid to be vulnerable, afraid to admitt weakness (even though its a prerequisite to honest Christ following). I was told, you can't trust your heart by people who had been burned and determined to never go to the place of intimacy again. Keep Jesus in the cage, let him out on holidays and formal meetings. Well, I reject that line of cerebral Christianity. And I know that the arrows will keep coming, and the more tender I keep my heart, the more I will find myself sobbing like Ali, but its part of life and its part of the faith story I'm enveloped in.

If you shut down your heart, you shut down half of the adventure of Christ following. Pain makes life ever so real. Embrace it, bring it near and reveal the wound within the intimacy of a Father who delights in you. I just hope that Ali finds the story of salvation history, the horror of the cross and the glory of the Resurrection to be as compelling as the story of Survivor. If she starts crying because of what they did to her Jesus, well, I may just join in the weep fest. Keep your heart tender, its worth the risk.


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