Paige here- it’s been a while since I posted on The Cocobee, and I have certainly missed writing and interacting with our beloved readers. I am awfully excited to begin sharing with you again! During my absence on the blog over the past few months, I have endured some difficult (but entirely necessary) life changes, as well as lovely time spent taking care of my daughter and focusing on life’s many priorities. In other words, I have emerged from my period of silence with plenty of new and interesting stories and ideas to be shared with you- the trials of life really do give us creative types plenty of material to work with ;) At least that is how I am choosing to see it.
In fact, this is how I have begun to look at my life as a whole: there can always be something gained, even from a messy or desperate situation.
Now that our long, dark winter has passed and we are finally in the midst of spring, with flowers bursting from their buds and bright green leaves furling open into the sun, I have been consumed with this idea of redemption. Of second chances. Of shedding the dead skin of the past and fully becoming the version of ourselves we are supposed to be. Springtime is characterized by the bursting forth of life, and Easter is the ultimate, perfect example of redemption and renewal. It is well to bask in the early spring sun and to celebrate Easter in all its glory, but I have been asking lately, what place does redemption have my own life? How can I salvage myself, my identity, my purpose, from the wreckage that can sometimes be life? How can I redeem myself to the people that I love, but also to myself? How can I make spring happen in my life?
The answer is not an easy one. Growth is painful- both physical change and personal change involve leaving something behind. You must shed the part of yourself that no longer is useful in your life to cause change, whether that something is a relationship, a few extra pounds, a bad habit, or a damaging world view.
So, what does redemption look like? Of course, the best way to explain is with fictional characters from literature and films. Three of my all-time favorite books/movies by the way. #notanerd #justkidding #iamanerd #proud
Example 1: The Lion King
When we first meet Simba, he is a confident and sassy young lion with a promising future but unrealistic expectations about what it really means to be the ruler of a kingdom. Free to run around all day, free to do it all my way! (Funny enough, I think this is how I imagined young adulthood to be when I was a kid. Oh, the innocence and naivete of childhood). When tragedy strikes and Simba believes the lies fed to him by his insanely jealous uncle, he flees his home to avoid his painful reality and live a shallow life with no worries. He only grows as a lion when he faces head on his grief, as well as his shame for his past mistakes. When he begins to view his life through a new lens of truth and self-responsibility, he inherits an entire kingdom (but not before he survives an all-out hyena vs. lion vs. lion battle ending in fire and the death of his dictator uncle). You could say he experienced a pretty drastic redemption.
Example 2: Pride and Prejudice
Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. Where do I even begin? Lizzy is so preoccupied with her prejudice, and Mr. Darcy is so clouded by his pride that they hate each other at first- he won’t even dance with her. He falls in love with her and proposes, and is she coldly rejects him. Several awkward moments and one family crisis later, the two recognize and expose their feelings to one another. He makes a dreamy, romantic proposal, she accepts, and they live happily ever after- but only after they break one another’s hearts, get over their own false preconceptions and begin to see each other with mutual respect and empathy. They had to endure immense emotional turmoil to open their eyes to the truth and redeem themselves to one another.
Example 3: The Lord of the Rings
I know, everyone makes fun of character Frodo Baggins because he seems weak and useless to defend himself. But this hobbit started out as a domestic, small-town Shire kid, who then chose to go on the most dangerous journey of his life. Because of this journey, he was separated from his friends, psychologically poisoned by the evil power of the ring, kidnapped numerous times along the way, and in the final test of his will he cracked and tried to keep the ring for himself, only to have his finger bitten off by a deranged creature. The ring ultimately ends up being destroyed in the hellish fires of Mount Doom, but the difficult journey certainly took its toll. Homeboy did not come out unscathed. Even in his redemption, Frodo came out of the battle with immeasurable physical and mental wounds. Destruction came first, then redemption.
The path to redemption is messy and painful. The road to redemption comes from a history of destruction, disappointment, mistakes- there must be a death before a rebirth.
The first picture above is a picture I took from my front porch of the sunrise on January 1st, 2016- no filter, no edits. In this moment I thought that surely, this must be my year of redemption, of thinking and living without a filter. What is the filter that you use to view your life, a habit of thinking and acting that might be impeding your journey to personal redemption? Is it a filter of fear, or expectations, or doubt, that is holding you back? Is it meekness, denial, sad complacency? Is it hate, a grudge, entitlement, personal victim-hood? Whatever your filter is, whatever it is that is keeping you from progress- put it to death and look at life with clear eyes. Kiss it goodbye for good. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Signing off for now, but I’ll be back soon- I am bursting with new material and interesting thoughts. It’s good to be back!