I do not hug trees. I do not drink out of aluminum water bottles. I did buy some adorable reusable grocery bags at Forever 21, but half the time I forget to bring them along. Due to overexposure to Investigation Discovery and living in a city with one of the highest violent sexual crime rates per capita in the nation, when I’m alone I drive everywhere, even if the location is only a mile or so away. I’m not actively trying to slaughter the earth – but frankly, I’m just too busy/lazy/rebellious to do anything super active to SAVE the earth (more on this later). All this to say, I am not usually a fan of environmentalist agenda that is entrenched so deeply in much of family entertainment these days. I am hyper-critical, I fully confess, and if I’m not careful I can find an evil conspiracy behind the most innocent of things (ugly disclosure time, you guys!). I am actively trying to combat this kind of negativity, though.
So the other day, when my young charges chose Tarzan as their daily movie choice, while I was elated that I did not have to watch Thomas the Tank Engine for the seventy-billionth day in a row, I was getting ready for a pompous, arrogant, IntellectaDouche criticism of the One World Peace Lovin’ Damn Frickin’ Hippie diatribe I was sure to find in this film that, in my far more ignorant, unenlightened childhood I counted among my favorites. Ahem. Unfortunately, I forgot that I’ve been praying to find God in every…single…thing like my daddy can. Forrealsz, he can get a divine revelation over a McDonalds Happy Meal. So, my expected 90 minutes of wild critical abandon was cut short by, you know, Almighty God?
If you haven’t seen the movie (and you really should – the writing is great, and the soundtrack is squee-inspiring), the basic premise follows the classic Tarzan story – Tarzan’s parents are killed by a cheetah, Tarzan is raised by gorillas, or apes, or something like that, and then the mandatory Disney romance transpires between Tarzan and the explorer Jane. So much of it reminded me of the conversion process that I just sat on the couch crying, with a snotty-nosed little boy asleep in my lap and a near-200-lb St. Bernard slobbering at my feet. Like Baby Tarzan, left to die in that tree house, our beliefs, our expectations, have been murdered. Our entire spiritual culture is gone – we know we have to find something different, but we don’t know what. We have to find shelter, but we don’t know where. I am so unbelievably blessed to have a family that loves me dearly, and for the most part either supports my decision to convert, or is getting over it – I did not lose my family in the conversion process. But I know of so many other converts who HAVE, and for them, they have to find an entirely new emotional home.
When you’re in that bleak chasm of I-can’t-keep-doing-what-I’ve-been-doing-but-I-don’t-know-if-I-can-really-make-this-leap, it is a genuine crisis. You’re terrified of what might happen if you stay, but you’re equally terrified by what might happen if you go. It’s not that God has abandoned us, it’s that we’re still too busy rationalizing and emotionalizing things within ourselves that we’re not willing to reach up and grab the hand that’s trying to pull us out of the abyss. And for far too many of us, the enemy is all too willing to seize that moment and whispers the lies that maybe, just maybe, ALL of this is a farce…maybe staying where we are is okay…maybe God will understand…maybe he’ll make an exception for us, this one time…maybe converting will spark a Beauty and the Beast style “Kill the beast!” villagers uprising and we’ll be martyred before we’re even able to be received into the church and made a Saint.
But when we’re faced with the beauty, and the peace, and the blazing, raging, earth-shatteringly silent roar of truth, we know.
We know what we have to do.
We know we have to obey God.
We know we have to follow this strange, new, thing that is so unlike everything we’ve known, and accept whatever comes next.
We have no choice. We’ve been burned by the flame of truth, and if we try to run there will be an ugly, blistering wound left behind that will kill us slowly.
Is it easy? Do we get everything right immediately? Do we have an instant metamorphosis into a beautiful CathoButterfly? No. We have fights. We have opposition in our new spiritual home. . .we have to fight battles just like we had to fight before. But it’s different this time. We have an entire community of Saints and Believers that have gone before us that are fighting and praying with us. We’ll fall down. We’ll screw up. But in the end? We win. Against doubt, against fear, against pain, and brokenness, and suffering, and starting over, we win. Not through our own strength, because we have none. But through the sweet, precious power of Christ, we win. We’re home, and nothing can ever, ever drag us out.
Also, the little elephant in the movie? Totally adorable.