If you’ve been following my social media escapades in any capacity, then you know that last week I attended the four day Star Wars Celebration.
Had the absolute time of my life. My wife went with me too (it was her first one ever), so that was an added dash of pleasure. All of the typical elements were there- vibrant cosplayers, electrifying panels, and, of course, that earth shattering moment where we saw the new trailer for The Force Awakens exclusively before they released it on the internet. Those were the fun elements.
Yet aside from all of the nerding out and geeky expression, I noticed another sensation slipping into my body. It was a heightening awareness of myself and the pressing insistence of a reality I couldn’t properly identify. One that whispered its name into my heart in a foreign language that should have been familiar.
From the very moment we saw that magnificent trailer on the first day of the Celebration… When I heard the now iconic words “Chewie- we’re home,”… When the stadium of over four thousand people erupted into thunderous roars and applause and hugs and handshakes… I was taken back to my 8 year old self. Transfixed in front of the television as the Original Trilogy unveiled this unique, dazzling universe before me. Blurring the lines between fantasy and reality into what can only be described as curiously philosophical.
The message was the same.
Joshua- you are free.
But what does an 8 year old know of the value of freedom? So I quietly drew my parallels between the Jedi and the Church- noting how they each began to value doing things in the name of the light over letting the light fill them to naturally influence and touch everything they did, however it chose. I pondered the quandary Luke found himself in, when he discovered that Darth Vader was his father. Not only was Luke in the process of reviving the Jedi Order how it SHOULD have been to begin with, he finds out that the very evil which eradicated it courses through his veins.
And then that begs the question- at which point do genetics become a cop out? His struggle may have been harder for learning his heritage, but his decision to become a true Jedi should have remained unaffected. And it did.
But I saw the conflict. It resonated with my own conflict.
And then consider the Dark Lord of the Sith himself- Darth Vader. A fallen Chosen One. What? How does a chosen one fall so utterly as to be the opposite of what he was born to be?
So many layers. And as I grew older, Star Wars was my core influence for understanding life. For interpreting some of the lesser spoken aspects of Christianity/Spirituality. For connecting to a God desiring relationship with me.
I was a mixed kid, in the sense that I wasn’t one definitive thing.
Musician. Geek. Avid reader. Scholar. Homeschooled. Hung with public schoolers. First born to my parents. Athlete. Philosopher. Critical thinker. Christian. Quick witted.
I was/am such a rampant blend and always felt I needed to choose one over them all. Star Wars awoke in me the true knowledge of freedom. Where being Josh trumped any title I could ever assume. And yet… I still lost it. This awareness went dormant within me.
I started seeking more impressive titles, holding myself to ridiculously high standards of success, depending on people for validation… That spawned into a lethal combination of toxic romantic relationships/views of women and seeking the “right” people to give me the freedom I’d already had but forgotten about.
The girls couldn’t help me.
The people I trusted burned me.
The few who could have steered me back on course, I was too embarrassed to interact with.
I picked up a very small circle of legitimate friends, but they were on similar journeys.
The point God was driving home, was that I was seeking something He’d already provided. FREEDOM. Freedom naturally leads to Him, so this meandering path I was traversing was almost an elaborate ruse to keep me from God Himself.
Where was Star Wars?
It was there. Always.
But I used it as self medication… Escapism. Forgetting that those were secondary to the profound impact it had on me during that initial induction into freedom.
A bird who has forgotten his wings cannot be convinced of flight.
I considered myself a grounded creature… Putting away any notion that I actually belonged in the unbound reign of the sky. The mental darkness grew so hopeless, the under current of depression so thick that I gave up on myself altogether. 8 year old Josh was in there, but I couldn’t connect with him.
I put the rest of me back together as best I could. Cleaned up my friendships. Surrounded myself with safe people. Focused more on my family. Married an amazing woman. Connected with authentic pastors.
But something was still missing.
As a matter of fact- the more I fixed what I could, the more aware of this lingering deficit I became…
And then that soul wrenching trailer hit with nova like surround sound and a shock wave of purging power shuddered through me! The hugs and camaraderie! Another wave. Panels, pictures, propaganda, lightsaber hanging proudly at my waist. More and more waves washed over me! Such an incredible process that I discussed in depth during an interview here.
But by the time I emerged from that four day “baptism” as it were… I was free again.
All of the weight… Was gone. The pressure and scars from bad choices, betrayals, and misunderstandings…. Vanished, as if they’d never happened. I felt so refreshed. I almost couldn’t believe it. And, most important of all, I felt reconnected with my childhood self. Realigned and empowered like never before. All of the vision, hope, and imagination of an 8 year old merged with the formidable capability of being a grown man.
The best of both worlds.
The first Star Wars movie in ten years, comes out this December.
It is called “The Force Awakens.”
And for me… That is literal.
The force of God’s legacy has awakened in me once more…