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Monday, June 7, 2010

The Light in the Darkness – How Reading a Vampire Book Taught Me More about Faith - When Light Leaves

(click for previous chapter: Introduction)

Pain radiates from the scene in which Edward leaves Bella. Both of them suffer greatly. But the focus is on Bella, who doesn’t see it coming. Never mind his selfless intentions, his belief that she would be safer without him, or that this was for her own good, his words cut Bella to the quick. They do seem cruel.

“Bella, I don’t want you to come with me.”

“You…don’t… want me?”

“No.”

(NM pg. 69-70)

Wo. Every word stabbed. But he didn’t stop there, desperate as he was to convince her of his indifference. When he finally says goodbye, I felt sliced to the core just reading it. And then they portrayed it pretty well in the movie. I got goose bumps even though I was expecting it.

Here’s what happened. A bad circumstance came up. Jasper almost killed Bella at her birthday party when she cut her finger on some wrapping paper.

Big oops.

That sent Edward into a guilty spiral because he felt like he was the one putting her in danger. And his solution was to remove the danger: himself.

Now, this particular plot point is not applicable to our story with the Perfect Lover because He’s promised never to leave us or forsake us. Just won’t happen.

But there are times in our lives when we feel like He’s left us because He’s being so silent. Therein lies the connection – our Perfect Lover often allows us to feel that way and it’s all for our own good.

Wait, what? There’s good to be found in feeling abandoned by God?

Yes. There is.

First, we must be careful to define goodness correctly.

Do we attribute to God goodness only when good is happening to us? When we’re getting everything we want or ask for?

Is God good only when our lives are good, despite the fact that we live in a fallen, sinful world and we have the free will to make stupid choices?

The first step in the faith journey is to acknowledge God as good because He says He is, not because we think He is or isn’t. (For more along this theological line, C.S. Lewis talks extensively about it in his book, The Problem of Pain.)

Bella doesn’t confront and answer the question of Edward’s goodness until the end of New Moon after they reunite. But she contends with it from the point he leaves and throughout every action she takes following.

The second question concerns God’s motives for allowing us to feel forgotten. If He is good, then His reason for sending us into the wilderness must also be good. (Rom. 8:28) I assert that His reasons always have to do with increasing our faith strength, not unlike an athletic trainer pushing his trainee to strengthen his muscles. Strength training involves pain, discomfort, building up endurance, focusing mentally, pressing on even when no one else presses on with you. It involves trust in the trainer that he does not put you through such a regiment for nothing. A goal does exist.

For Bella, a goal is set as well, although she doesn’t know it at the time. When Carlisle mends her birthday party wounds, she asks him many pointed questions, digging for reasons why Edward won’t just change her into a vampire like she wants. Their conversation speaks volumes because it’s basically Carlisle’s journey of faith, his testimony. He concludes, “But never, in the nearly 400 years now since I was born, have I ever seen anything to make me doubt whether God exists… Not even the reflection in the mirror.” (NM, pg. 36) He’s on the other side of his wilderness. He’s already gone through the pain and the struggle and the loneliness, and come out the other side stronger. Strong enough to sit calmly next to a bleeding human and stitch her wounds. Strong enough to say, after all of it, his faith in God remains.

But when the Cullens leave her, Bella forgets the goal because present circumstances are far too painful to see much further ahead on the path. In fact, she believes her journey to be over and done with because what she thought was true turns out to be a lie… or at least, that’s what she believes.

Beliefs are the cornerstones of faith. What you believe dictates how you behave, how you think, and how you feel. Bella believes Edward to have one set of motives in leaving her, when he actually has a complete opposite set of motives. Her belief in the untrue motives affect how she handles the darkness in which she finds herself.

Feeling around in the dark often times results in a stubbed toe. Bella employs coping mechanisms with which we are all too familiar. She shuts down, she merely goes through the motions of life, she substitutes reality with fantasy, she tastes anger and rebels against the promise she made not to be reckless, and she considers giving in to the temptation to replace her love with another, who if not less worthy is the wrong love for her.

All of her decisions, all of the consequences, and all of the circumstances work together to strengthen Bella in ways nothing else could and for a future she would otherwise have not been able to face. Surviving the darkness, the new moon phase of life, empowers, strengthens and solidifies faith in the Perfect Lover.

As Bella struggles through everything she knows and all she’s experienced, matching it up or contrasting it to what she believes as well as to her bereft circumstances, she ends up discovering truth.

Yet, she is not left without help. She finds out that she still has His Voice.

Thanks for walking with me on this journey of faith. We’ll continue on Wednesday!

(click for next chapter: In Search of the Voice, part 1)

(photos by photobucket.com)

2 comments:

lynnrush said...

Great insight. It's so easy to fall into the, "God's abandoned me" when we feel like he's not around. I like your stance on that (he's allowing us to feel...) It's true. He's not gone, just allowing us to experience what we're supposed to experience.

Nice post.

KM Wilsher said...

Love this. . .feeling like my Faith and trust is being strengthend :0)

These are so encouraging~!