This weekend I watched the movie, “The Giver,” with my family and I could not help but relate what is portrayed in this Utopian society to what happens in our individual lives.
The story takes place in a society run by a group of elders. In order to prevent wars, crimes of passion, or even struggle, everything has been sterilized and made the same. People wear the same white outfits, ride identical bicycles and live in identical houses to prevent jealousy. Children attend the same school, and at a predetermined age, the elders determine their future role in society based on their strengths. Elders arrange marriages to ensure a sound family unit to raise children. People work together for the good of society and food, housing, health care and jobs are provided for everyone. People are polite, there is no jealousy, no arguing, and no violence. All is peaceful.
But what looks like an ideal society – turns out to be not so ideal.
What the people do not realize is that what they have given up to avoid any painful situations, has also confined them to a prison of nothingness. Color and fashion that create individual style was replaced by the drab monotone of white uniforms. Music that stirs hearts and makes us feel deeply was silenced. Play just for the sake of play – the rush of red cheeks sledding down a snow covered hill – was replaced by sensible games. The range of climate and the power of thunder storms was replaced with 70 degrees and sunny every day to produce the best crops. The differences of race, religion and culture that weave together a society in all the colors of the rainbow were abandoned for sameness. And the pounding of a heart that yearns to be fully known and loved by another was silenced for the practicalities of forming a family. Anything that made them feel emotion or passion was stilled and they didn’t even know what they were missing.
But what happens in this society is not unlike what happens in our individual lives. In order to avoid heartache, disappointment or pain, we begin constructing walls to protect ourselves. What we don’t realize is that with each brick we add, we live and feel a little less. We try to look like those around us, and dare not stand out in the crowd for fear of being rejected. We play it safe during worship lest we feel out of control as the music moves us. We keep so busy that we miss out on the spontaneity of just laughing or playing, or feeling the wind in our hair. We love, but only a little, lest it hurt too much if we are disappointed. We might share 90%, or 95 % of us, but hide in the last bit of muck for fear of rejection. We miss out because we are afraid and instead begin to feel nothing.
But God changes everything. Because I know I am created by God uniquely me and dearly loved no matter what, I am able to open myself up. I am secure in who I am and who God created me to be. I know that I am broken and prefer to live known rather than hidden – because God loves me anyway. I become less reactive to other people’s responses and instead give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe their reaction, comes out of their own brokenness, rather than something that I am doing wrong. I love freely and with abandon. I don’t shy away from pain or brokenness in others because God calls me to enter into it and minister – He will provide what I need.
I laugh out loud
I worship with abandon
I weep for the broken
I swoosh down a snow laden hill
I jump in icy cold lakes
I get naked
Because God gave me the freedom to live
How has God changed your life?