Keith and I finally went and saw a grown-up movie that we were both interested in, Will & Jaden Smith’s ” After Earth.”
I’m not a movie critic or a movie reviewer, so, all I will say is that I enjoyed it. M. Night Shyamalan directed, Will Smith wrote the story, with Will and Jada as the producers. Apparently, it didn’t fare well with most critics and reviewers. Which doesn’t surprise me, really. I don’t necessarily disagree with many of the points they made. However, I prefer to focus on what was good about it in the context of my life.
1) It was ultimately a story about family dynamics, specifically a family trying to grow and adjust in key life transition periods of both the Father and Son’s lives.
2) It was a coming of age story where the son has to come to terms with past trauma and grief in the face of dealing with situations and circumstances coming together in a way that triggers all the unresolved fears and beliefs developed as a child.
3) It was the story of a disconnected and detached parent whose own personal growth and development got stuck in battle mode and whose identity is embedded in his professional persona, having to reconnect with his adolescent child in a context not conducive to the exploration, growth, and repair of relationships.
The ecological morality, the futuristic sci-fi setting, and movie monster, in my opinion, were merely the vehicle and backdrop of these stories, not the point of the movie itself. The theme, overcoming fear, on the surface, was about dealing with fear in the face of physical survival. However, it was more about how our thoughts, memories, and relationships drive the fear responses in our lives.
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice. We are all telling ourselves a story . . .
To a large degree, I understand this statement and can even agree with it in some ways. However, I also believe that fear is more than a psychological construct. It is a deeply integrated neurological and physiological mechanism for survival. It is very real to the person experiencing it, and, in the wrong context or delivered in the wrong manner, this same message can be as destructive as it is informative and inspirational.
I have a lot of fears, some regarding my family relationships and others about circumstances and provision. They are all about future outcomes: fear of not being able to be in a healthy, constructive, loving relationship with my son and being a welcome member of his family; fear of staying stuck in a pattern of subsistence living and not being able to provide the material and extracurricular supports for Luna to be able to explore and develop her talents and gifts; fear that the combination of the physical and mental health issues (diagnosed and undiagnosed) that Keith and I experience will always hinder and sabotage my, our, efforts to move beyond where we are and keep us where we’ve been.
These fears have their roots in past and present events and experiences.
Fear is an indicator that some kind of danger is present. For me the dangers are rarely physically threatening, but are about relationships, dreams, and hopes I have. Therefore, the action I have to take is to recognize when the signs of fear manifest in my physiological, emotional, and psychological being.
As a Christian, coping with these fears means I don’t ever have to hold onto or handle those fears by myself – although, I have had a very real tendency to forget my faith in the face of my fears.
My friend, Marisa, led the worship during the service when our church community met yesterday. While introducing one of the songs, Mighty to Save, she explained how knowing that she can take her fears and failures to God, knowing that He loves her, gives her a sense of security and safety in the midst of those things.
Rooting myself in the present moment is something I’m learning to do. The majority of my fears are about rejection, abandonment, insufficiency, weakness, and failure and based on very real life experiences where these things have derailed and damaged me and those I care about. So, I have to think about what is true, now:
I am loved.
I am accepted.
I am provided for and my needs are being met.
Strength is given me when and where it is needed.
Perfect love casts out fear.
I don’t have to fight it, feel bad about it, or hide it. I just have to acknowledge it, accept that it exists, use it’s presence to help me examine the danger, and respond by letting the fear go and moving forward in the safety and security of what is true in the present moment.