We are Star Wars people. The kids have been watching Rogue One on Netflix repeatedly plus we own the original three movies on DVD. We are raising up the next generation to love a good verse evil outer space epic battle.
Doing the Lord’s work, we are.
For the past several years, Dr and I have seen the latest Star Wars movie while at home for Christmas break. Grandparents watching the kids is a thing of absolute beauty. We usually do a little after Christmas shopping with gift cards, grab some lunch, and then head to the movie theater for the next showing.
This year, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, well, it kept me up most of the night after seeing it.
Not because it was scary (so much no) or because I ate too much popcorn (although, yes). I laid awake most of the night thinking about the last battle between Kylo Ren and Luke Skywalker.
NOTE: SPOILER ALERT.
I AM going to be talking about that battle and if you don’t want to know anything, come back and read this post after you’ve seen the movie.
The Battle for Community…
This month, we’re going to be talking community. Building community when maybe we never learned how. Creating relationships with the people who are literally on all sides of us. Being grateful for those people instead of wishing for something, or someone, different. Recognizing you are exactly where you are beside the people you are because God put you in that very spot.
But I think before we get to that point, we have to take a look at our hearts, a hard look, to see what we might be battling that is keeping us from building an authentic community.
Battles with anger and bitterness and loneliness and unworthiness.
It’s the enemy’s favorite lie, there is more.
Community will bring more hurt, more pain, more isolation, more rejection. And he will whisper to you over and over again to just wait, stay inside, keep staring at your phone, don’t engage because better community is coming. There is more.
Kylo Ren’s Battle…
The final battle between Luke Skywalker’s former apprentice and nephew, Kylo Ren, comes just as it looks like the Resistance is about to be obliterated from the universe. The First Order followed them to their old hideout and brought a canon with them large enough to crack their metal door like an egg (that might be a pretty close quote).
Just as the last of the Rebel pilots lay defeated, with Princess Leia and a handful of soldiers trapped inside the hideout, Luke Skywalker appears. He checks in with Leia first and then heads out that front metal door to meet Kylo Ren face to face. And to do so, he literally just walks out the door. No armor, no plane, no protection of any kind.
Kylo Ren sees him, from way out in his Dark Side cannon, and instructs every gun the First Order brought with them to shoot Skywalker. And those guys shoot for several minutes. His general says, “You think you got him?”
Luke Skywalker steps out of the dust and defiantly brushes his shoulder clean.
Kylo Ren decides to meet him, man to man, in person, on the ground. We all watch as he walks up to Skywalker to begin this battle.
Lightsabers swing, back bending dodges, fancy footwork. Until finally, Kylo Ren strikes the killer blow. Only to turn around and see Skywalker still standing.
Oh. Luke is not really there. He is a projected image. A hologram of sorts. The camera then shows the audience Luke, hovering above a rock back on his island, light years away from the physical battle with Kylo Ren.
Meanwhile, the remaining Resistance leaders have found an escape through the back of the hideout surviving to fight another day.
Kylo Ren wasted all his energy, time, and resources on fighting a battle he could never win. Because the opponent he thought he was fighting was not physically present.
Our Imagined Battle…
I laid awake that night almost buzzing with awe over that scene.
How often in my life have I fought an unwinnable battle because my perceived opponent was not present?
Do you do that?
Have entire arguments with people in your head? Sometimes in preparation for an actual argument you believe is coming or because you are so upset, so angry, so disappointed, you cannot stop thinking about the situation?
Sometimes we do have disagreements and even fights with the people in our lives. For sure. Relationships are hard work and most often, we hurt the ones closest to us first and hardest.
But sometimes, we find ourselves hurt and wounded by someone and they are completely unaware of our feelings.
A friend declines our invitation. Our co-worker gets the promotion we wanted. We see pictures of our neighbors out together but we weren’t invited.
Slights to our identity, our sense of belonging, our friendships.
So we stew. We sit in those disappointments, in those offenses, in the slights and we let anger, resentment, and bitterness grow.
And grow they do (which sounds a bit like something Yoda would say).
We begin to see every person, every relationship, every season of our lives through those lenses of anger, resentment, and bitterness. When we do finally look around, we realize those emotions have caused us to become isolated, lonely, and grumpy.
The Battle with the Enemy…
Earlier in the movie, Kylo Ren had been communicating with Rey, the young Jedi learning about The Force. They had been able to see one another face to face and even touch hands despite being galaxies apart physically. They had been connected by The Force (which is another post for another day).
As an audience member, it never occurred to me Luke Skywalker was not physically present when he showed up. That’s what Heros do. THEY SHOW UP. Especially in the final battle. But when he walked out of the barrage of gunfire completely unharmed, I knew something was off.
Kylo Ren did not.
His anger, resentment, and bitterness blinded him completely. He only saw an opportunity to exact vengeance on the man he believed had failed him.
We do this. We look at the people in our lives who have hurt us, neglected to invite us, not appreciated us. And in our own anger, resentment, and bitterness, we forget our battles are not with the people around us but with the enemy.
Maybe your invitation was turned down because believe it or not, they really did have previous plans they couldn’t cancel.
Maybe you would have been the perfect fit for that project or task or promotion but because you never openly voiced your interest, you simply were not considered.
Maybe your neighbors ran into each other at the same place instead of deliberately leaving you out.
Perhaps the reason we don’t have the community we truly long for is that the person we are really fighting a battle against is the enemy.
In believing the lies he’s been whispering, we’ve let our anger, resentment, and bitterness build walls around our hearts and our lives. We’ve shut ourselves off from growing relationships, building community, serving the people God has placed in our life.
We believed we were in a battle with a person when really we are in a battle with the enemy.
The Battle for Gratitude…
Listen. I don’t just love deep heart work that involves me admitting perhaps, possibly, MAYBE I’ve been battling holograms. Searching my bruised heart for slights and seeing them as inaccurate assumptions and flawed assigned intentions. Recognizing my true opponent is the enemy.
But it is good and holy work.
If you want to join me in this heart work, let’s do the simplest of tasks…
Ask, seek, knock (Matthew 7:7)
Ask the Holy Spirit for Him to reveal where you need healing. Even if the battles have been imagined and the wounds self-inflicted, you need healing. Ask Him to repair your cracked, dry, and broken wineskin.
Seek forgiveness from the people in your life you might have been holding at arm’s length at best and treating with disdain at worst. Likely they are completely confused by what changed in your relationship. Be honest with them about your hurts and apologize for not bringing those to them sooner.
Knock on the door of gratitude and allow yourself to learn from the battle. No one sets out to feel pain and anger. No one. Be grateful for the healing you are confident God will provide. Be grateful for the lesson of humility and gentleness seeking forgiveness from others will bring. Then be grateful for the restoration of those relationships. Be grateful God wastes nothing in kingdom building and trust this too will be used for His Glory.
If we are meant to live in community, created to be in relationship, and we are, then we first have to do the heart work to clean away the anger, resentment, and bitterness we’ve been carrying around. Recognize our battles are with the enemy and his lies. Not with the people God has purposefully placed in our lives.