Friday night we watched, Bridge to Terabithia. It’s about the awkward friendship of two fifth graders, Leslie – a girl, and Jess – a boy.
Leslie’s joy is the first thing to infect her neighbor and soon to be best friend. She was from an artistic family who told stories, wrote books, and slopped bright paint on their living room walls as they danced. Jess is the only son of a working class couple scraping together whatever they can to make ends meet for their five children. His family are faithful church attendees. They have the stern faces and serious demeanor to prove it. Leslie, on the other hand, had never been to church before and seemed to be captivated by the entire experience of it.
Out of all the high’s and low’s of their story, this in my opinion, is the most compelling scene.
“You have to believe it and you hate it. I don’t have to believe it and I love it.”
How does that sit with you?
Who do you most identify with in this scene?
– May Belle – certain of a harsh God who’s purpose is to damn people to hell
– Jess – confused as he reconsiders what he’s always accepted as truth
– Leslie – free to embrace the beauty of Jesus without the baggage of dogma
Why do you think that is?
Whenever I watch this scene I long for the freedom Leslie exudes. I love the simple way she embraces the beauty of Jesus without all the baggage of dogma.
But I see myself in both of the other characters too. As a young adult I was so certain about things…I felt I had to be. I was so sure about certain doctrines that Jesus and grace got lost in it all. Then about ten years ago I started going through a time of deconstruction myself. I don’t think I was necessarily wrong about all the things I thought, believed, and taught. I just look back and see somethings that were out of focus and other areas that were incomplete.
God seems to use two primary tools to help us grow.
1. People – ‘Leslie characters’ in our own lives. If we’re paying attention God seems to bring them into our lives to give us a clearer picture of Him. Some of them stay in our lives for a long time and others only for a season.
2. Pain – My friend Larry calls, ‘disorienting dilemmas.’ These are experiences and events that rock us to our foundation. They can help us challenge things we’ve always accepted and distill what we believe.
Who in your life is calling you to live more fully?
Are you in a place where it feels like your belief system is getting in the way of knowing God more completely?
Do you tend to embrace disorienting dilemmas or bury them?
Do you have someone to share that with?
Does it feel like you’ve laid claim to your own beliefs, or more like you’re living a second hand faith of your parents or pastors?