Hoping for Bendemption

In the last few years, since the release of The Force Awakens, I have been a little obsessed with Star Wars (my family would argue that the adjective “little” is a gross understatement).  One of the reasons I have been so fascinated with the Sequel Trilogy is because of the character of Ben Solo, also known by his alter ego Kylo Ren.  This character has to be one of the most complex characters ever written in Star Wars, and I have devoured every nuance, every piece of back story I could find.

What does this have to do with recovery?  There has been quite a bit of hate and vitriol spewed on social media towards those who consider themselves Reylos (those who like the idea of a romantic relationship between Ben and Rey).  Because we like to ship these characters together we are accused of supporting abusive and toxic relationships.  A Twitter friend of mine was accused of this and posted about how, as an abused person herself, this was extremely offensive to her.  It got me thinking about why I am so drawn to characters like Ben Solo, and Erik (the Phantom from Phantom of the Opera), and BBC’s Sherlock.  I have always, as far back as I can remember, been drawn to broken and hurting characters.  Maybe it is my co-dependent nature.  But what I’ve been ruminating on for awhile, and finally posted on Twitter today, is that the real reason I am drawn to these characters is because I see myself in them.  I have spent years in self-loathing and feelings of worthlessness, just hoping to be accepted for who I am and loved for the same but never quite being able to believe I deserved it.  I’ve been working with my sponsor for about a week now on the fact that I still feel like I don’t deserve Father’s love and therefore have a very hard time receiving it without feeling as if I need to earn it (which of course I am incapable of doing).  These broken characters have a part of them that they see as ugly, a part they feel no one wants or loves, and they believe this so much about themselves that they lash out and hurt as they themselves have been hurt.  I see myself in them.

Our family just finished reading John Eldredge’s book Epic, which puts forth the idea that we, as human beings, are drawn to stories, and the desire for the adventure, drama, romance, etc., of a good story, because we were created to have a part in The Story.  We long for our own “happy ending”, our “Happily Ever After”, yet struggle to believe that is available to us, so we settle for trying to live vicariously through fictional characters in books, movies, television shows.  And this is at the crux of why I am drawn to these broken, hurting, angry characters, and why I long to see Ben Solo find redemption and then to be happy with Rey.  He’s had a scarred childhood.  He has had this evil man in his head whispering lies to him since he was a young boy.  His father abandoned him.  His mother neglected him.  His legendary Jedi uncle didn’t believe in him and, in a moment of weakness, considered killing him.  I can SEE why he turned to the dark side.  I have lived, to some extent, the reason he turned to the dark side.  And I long for him to have a happy ending, redemption from his sins and to be loved for who he really is by someone who sees the good in him when no one else does.  I long for him to have it because I long for me to have it.  If fiction truly is, in its simplest form, an essay on real life, then that is my story.  And I want a happy ending.

How I wish I could wax eloquently about how I have found that happy ending in Jesus.  To some measure, I have.  I have found acceptance and love for who I am, right where I am, dirty deeds and all.  But deep down, I still have this core belief that I might still be abandoned, turned away from, that if I struggle just a little too long with a particular sin, that may be the “final straw” where He throws up His hands and gives up.  I can say I struggle with this feeling less now than I used to, but it hasn’t completely gone away.  I hope one day it will.  That I will be able to joyfully see myself as who I am declared in Scripture to be; special, beloved, chosen.  Until then, I keep fighting my demons that tell me I am worthless, ugly, unloved, and ask Father to replace those lies with His truth and allow me to see my place in His Story, the part specially designed for me to play.  And hope for my happy ending.