Friday, November 11, 2011

How Reading a Vampire Book Revealed to Me the Gift of Free Will – The Self-Obstacle

To begin, I'd like to salute all the veterans out there and extend my deep thanks and appreciation for your service that results in my freedom here in the United States. Freedom that makes this blog possible, among many other much more important things. We can't thank you enough! At the very least, I picture a stadium full of us citizens giving a roaring standing ovation.

Okay. now today's Twi-blog. (CLICK HERE for previous chapter.)
The first image that comes to my mind when I hear that word is arms reaching for the sky at gunpoint – being taken hostage unwillingly - but only to avoid a worse fate, death.
A bad thing.
With popular quotes such as, “Never give up! Never surrender!” we equate surrender with quitting, which just adds to its negative connotation.
Surrender, however isn’t quitting. Both are acts of Free Will, choices that result in actions. But quitting has to do with how you feel about yourself (i.e. I can’t do this…), while surrender has to do with how you feel about the one asking you to lay down your weapons.
In other words, do you trust the one asking you to surrender?
Emotional surrender compares to physical surrender except it’s much harder because the trust issue is of greatest importance while being the most delicate. Emotional hurts impede trust. Without trust, you can’t surrender. Without surrender, you grasp for control and keep up your guard just in case pain fires a shot.

This is where Bella is in Eclipse.
Somewhere between following Edward with blind trust to their sanctuary in Twilight and surviving her wilderness experience during his absence in New Moon, Bella has taken the reins. By the time Eclipse starts, she intends to control what happens from there on out.
She filters information to protect her parents, deciding what they can know about her future and what they can’t.
She acts as ambassador between Edward and Jacob, determined that they will get along and fit into her life in a way that appeases herself but ignores their view on the matter.
She lobbies for a vampire conversion experience on her terms despite the wise counsel from Dr. Cullen and Edward, and even Alice.
She argues with and ultimately convinces Edward not to fight in the battle with the newborns based on her fears as well as her logic jockeying that gets Edward to admit he is not needed to win.
Funny thing is, in all of her attempts, she doesn’t end up controlling anything at all. Part of the reason is that she is attempting to control others’ Free Will with her own choices, and that never works. The other reason is that she trusts the wrong person for the facts to base her choices - herself.
In almost all of the situations listed, plus dozens more, Edward asks Bella to trust him with the results. In other words, to surrender to his wisdom and knowledge of each matter. Not to stop thinking or deciding for herself, but to listen to all the perspectives first, base her decisions on Truth, not her own understanding.
This is most difficult for Bella to do when it comes to his proposal of marriage. The bottom line is that she thinks it’s stupid. Based on her own worldview, her own experiences, and her own code of right and wrong, Edward is the stupid one when it comes to the subject of marriage. For all of her eighteen years, she really believes that she knows better, that somehow all of his education and experience and insight over the past century make him less reasonable, out of date, irrelevant to the present.

What’s causing Bella to see herself in such an elevated manner on this issue?

Pride. Plain and simple.
When we’re wielding our Free Will all over the place, it’s difficult sometimes to step back and admit that we don’t know everything. If wielded irresponsibly, the right to choose gives us the impression that we are the source of knowledge, the pool of right and wrong, the spring of Truth.
And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Surrender itself is a choice, an exercise of Free Will. We don’t choose surrender often because it is a confession that we don’t know everything and a release of control. Our pride keeps us from wanting to do that. SELF gets in the way of Free Will.
At this point in the story, Bella has plenty of evidence that Edward is trustworthy. She has proof of his unconditional love. It’s only SELF that keeps her from surrendering to his proposal.
It’s true that when our Perfect Lover Jesus asks for our hand in marriage, He is asking for us to surrender to His way, many times asking us to trust Him when we don’t understand what’s happening. In doing so, Our Perfect Lover does not remove our Free Will, rather He invites us to see more of the Truth, a purer basis on which to make decisions, which leads to a deeper, more intimate relationship. He’s proved Himself trustworthy time and time again. There’s no need to keep Him at a distance. We balk because SELF gets in the way. We believe that in all our years with all our experience, we’ve seen and heard it all. And, quite frankly, we think His way is stupid.
Really, that’s just another way of protecting ourselves, though, isn’t it?
Remember, in the most important circumstances if you don’t surrender, you face the worse option – death.
This is one of those circumstances. And our Perfect Lover has the right to request surrender because He surrendered Himself in our place so we wouldn’t have to face death. He surrendered and faced AND conquered death because He loves us that much.
The great thing about surrendering to our Perfect Lover is that it is rewarded with benefits, blessings far beyond our imagination we never could have comprehended if we hadn’t made a choice to accept Him.
We find out what belonging to Him means, like Bella does in Breaking Dawn when she finally walks down the aisle to marry Edward. She perceives the wedding in a new way, even thinking to herself in the middle of it, “I saw just how silly I’d been for fearing this…”.
Surrendering is a precious gift Free Will gets to give. The object of surrender is the most important factor. While the Perfect Lover asks for this gift, others less deserving also seek to demand or take it. The world can put a lot of pressure on us while we’re in the Choosing Fields, especially when it’s impossible to choose both. We’ll explore that next. Hope you’ll tune in!
To go to the next chapter, The Other Choice, CLICK HERE.


SarahtheBaker said...

Oh how I am enjoying your insights! :) You always get my brain bubbling and brewing!

I like to think of Bella's resistance as a mix of both pride and ill-applied feminism. Pride, in the sense of "I know better than you," -- because she always has known better than everyone in her life. She's always had to be in control, and from personal experience, it's super-hard to let go of that. And to boot, she also has to deal with the "world's" interpretation of her early marriage. "Is she knocked up?" "Is she crazy?" Poor Bella has absorbed the dark side of feminism: you can't make the right choice for you because it looks stupid and UN-feminist to everyone else.

The "choosing fields" as you aptly describe, preclude us from making decisions for other people. In the end it will always be a personal choice. We won't have our perceived jury of peers judging us at the end of our lives. It will just be us and our God asking, what did you do with the life I gave you? What did you do with my Son?