Thursday, October 31, 2013

Allegiant and Redemption

So first I want to say that if you haven't read Allegiant and have no idea what I am talking about, please still keep reading.  I am going to reference this book, but there's still some good stuff here.

And secondly I want to say that if you are planning on reading Allegiant and haven't, please, please do not read this.  Because I am going to reference how it ends, and I don't want you to read the ending here.  You need to experience that in the story.

That being said, here we go.

So I've been thinking a lot lately about redemption.

Redemption is a huge thing to me.  And not just because I am a Christian and Christ redeemed me on the cross.  Though that is huge, I have learned that redemption goes beyond that.  I've learned that all things can be redeemed.  Relationships, pasts, choices.

But not how we think sometimes.  We are redeemed from being sinners and having that define us, but we still struggle with sin.

We need redemption.  More than we realize.  I have brokenness as a result of my own sin and the pain others have inflicted on me.  And some there just because that's how a fallen world goes sometimes.  I have fissures running deep in my family.  My best friend chose to walk away from me years ago.  I remember callous words spoken, the things stolen from me.  And I'm not the only one.  We all experience, and are (because really, it is our very existence and not just something we experience) broken.  Shattered and damaged.

We are walking wounded.

The end of Allegiant left me completely undone.  And I know I sound like a 12 year old girl, but hear me out.

The ending wasn't what I wanted.  I could see it coming and was yelling to myself, "No, no, no!".  But as much as I hated the ending at first, I loved it.  Because it painted a better picture of redemption than a "better" ending that didn't involve Tris dying could have.  Four wanted a better ending.  He expected it.

And I think with us, sometimes it's the same.  We want full redemption.  Now.  But full redemption does not come in this life.

Sometimes infertilty is redeemed through adoption and you never get to know that feeling of life inside of you.  Sometimes redemption is finding worth after divorce.  Sometimes redemption is a thriving life of singleness that never ends in marriage.  When I hear "I dreamed I dream" from Les Mes I think of people like Fantine who do not get their redemption in this lifetime.  Who die without knowing it.

I am so broken.  So many splits and cracks and scars mar my soul.  I am aware of it daily.  And I used to think that victory meant getting past that.  But now I think differently.

The ending of Allegiant reminded me how broken I am.

Mostly, it reminds me of Jesus.  And of his followers who were so sure and so certain that Jesus was going to take over.  To make all bad things good.  They were Four, looking for ever after (or some semblance of it) with Tris.

They did not get it.

Instead of the glorious ending they had longed for and been so sure of, they were left.

And I think that's why reading Allegiant totally undid me.  Not just because Tris died (though admittedly I would have cried just at that). But because it resonates within me.  Because it is truth.  We are broken people, in a broken world, and more often than not redemption looks like gritting our teeth and being brave in the normal day.  And I think this place I find myself in, teetering between absolute desperation at the state of things and the longing for things to be right, to be as they are supposed to be--is hope.  And I think that's what He to be for us.  A broken people waiting for full and complete redemption.  For now we live in factions and battle wars both literal and figurative.  And people are taken from us, and we are seared with scars.  But we must keep going on.

Sometimes it overwhelms me, this brokenness of the world.  Of myself.  And I wonder what I should be doing to be Jesus to people because if I am honest with myself, the answer to "What am I doing to help?"  is "not a damn thing."  That is the truth of it.  And I ache, in so deep a part of myself I keep discovering it, to make things right.  And perhaps that's just Jesus in me, because He is the only thing whole in me.  The only thing not damaged.  The one thing that keeps me pushing forward.

When I was in high school and college, the thought of dying and going to heaven scared me more than comforted me.  And even now, the thought of my life ending--of things undone, of leaving Dave who I love with a love so deep I can't tell where it comes from, makes me ache.  But at the same time, this wholeness inside of me calls to itself.  The part of Jesus that exists in a different life, in a different form...the wholeness in me recognizes Him and aches for him.  Deep calls to deep the Bible says, and I think this is what it means.  The part of me that knows wholeness that aches for wholeness everywhere.

I've reread the ending of Allegiant so many times now, crying each time I do.  Because I see it.  I see Peter and John, and all the others, so sure of what was supposed to happen, so certain of it.  And things ended so, so badly.  They had to.  But who they loved got taken.  And they are left.

And I know that this is why I love stories so much.  I am not a scholar.  Sometimes I'll hear Beth Moore or Greg Pinkner point something out from Scripture and it's so obvious but something I would not have noticed on my own.  I don't see things in Scripture that way.

But this layering of a story upon a story; using the emotion of one to see the truth in the other...this is what I get.  This is how I grow.  This is what Jesus uses to show me what He means.  I never realized it was like this for me until in college, when I read The Chronicles of Narnia and the gospel came alive for me in ways it hadn't before. I have found Jesus in Twilight and in Les Mes and in 300 and in countless other tales he uses to show me who He is.

Four was right, life does damage us.

But we can be mended.  And I think that is the most important thing I've learned.  That things can be righted.  Completely.  And if they can't...if the worst does happen, that I can survive that too.

So, thank you Veronica Roth for writing that ending.  Even though it must have split you in two.  I think only a person who could fully understand redemption could have written that ending.

And thank you Jesus.  For redemption, in all it's forms.  For stories.  For being the best story, that still leaves me undone, even as I live it out.


  1. I just got done listening to the audiobook at work and then remembered to read the blog you wrote about it. Oh my. I loved your perspective on the ending and relating it to how the disciples must have felt. Great insight. I think your blog left me more emotional than the book. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I felt like I was going to explode when I finished reading it; I think I carried emotions from it around for a week. Glad you appreciated my rambling thoughts!