Wednesday, September 02, 2015

On wanting to be Edmund.

The August-is-too-early talk about Halloween costumes came on as quickly as it ended. My big girl was hard lobbying for all of us to be pirates, but my little guy was not about to let his freedom of choice be pillaged by her plan. I know it was because he watched half of a Narnia movie (and has read half the books) a few nights ago that he blurted out, "I want to be Edmund."

I actually thought he was confusing the two brothers in the story - Edmund for Peter. "But don't you mean Peter, he's the one who is High King, the hero who gets knighted and has the special sword?" I questioned. "You don't mean Edmund, the younger brother...?" He knows, in my pause, that I imply Edmund is the one who sided with the White Witch. Edmund lost his way. Edmund became the cautionary tale.

"I know. But I want to be Edmund." I didn't say it, but I thought, "Who wants to be Edmund?" He went on, "Edmund learns from his mistakes. Just like me."

Silence. I don't even know, guys. Usually I'm right there, BOOM, with a great, parental affirmation. But this time, silence. My own unsettled heart was turning his words over and over.

Let's go full-on disclosure: I personally don't want to pretend to be a person who is the same as I am. Given the choice, I want to pretend to be a character I wish I was. One who starts and ends as the hero. One who doesn't make mistakes to begin with. That mask feels most appealing, and it doesn't even have to be October.

But that child of mine challenges me to no end. Clearly, he has no baggage or shame or masks. And tonight, I realize he isn't actually trying to pretend at all. This is about something different. He is not only relating to Edmund; he knows he is Edmund, and there's nothing pretend about it. 

Maybe that's what I'm missing: the unblemished peace with being Edmund.

Frankly, I'm not at peace with the fact that I can be found siding with the enemy. I can easily lose my way. I can sell out for a quick fix, my own variety of Turkish Delight. I too can be disloyal. Self-interested. Unbelieving.

I am Edmund. Of course I am. And I'm not at peace with it. In my flesh, I'm really not.

But. I know Jesus is at peace with all the Edmunds. It's what makes him a radical. He sees all of us traitors and isn't shocked. It's not that he is at peace with sin. He's not winking an eye at my mistakes and waving me onward like a policeman who decides to give a warning instead of a ticket. The peace of Christ hasn't ever come cheaply. Let's not forget that the spiritual transaction that happened at the cross violently shook the earth and opened tombs.

And simultaneously, his payment for my traitor-heart ripped the masks off. It had to. Maybe you've felt the stab of finally realizing Jesus knows the truth. You are the traitor. I am the traitor. And yet he lays down his own life for me. I find all of this - still, after decades - difficult with which to be at peace. But difficult is not impossible.

Self-exposure, baring one's brokenness, ceasing to pretend all seem to be prerequisites for accepting forgiveness when we are face to face with the Lion. I know, because I've been there. Taking off the mask of Who You Wish You Were is at once brutal and the thing for which you were born. What freedom there is in finding an Eden in our hearts, where we are totally exposed and yet totally loved. How unexpected, how counter-intuitive.

Jesus is at peace that I'm Edmund because he made a way out; even as he watched me doubt and wander off into the woods with the enemy, his plan all along was to bring me back into the camp of Kings. If I never left the camp to begin with, I may have some crown of loyalty, but I'd have no testimony. My little guy is so wise; of all the characters, Edmund really does have the best story.

And no doubt, so do you.