My Amayah and I watched Pocahontas together this week. I hadn’t seen it since I was a child. But watching it with her touched some of the deepest places inside me. To me, the movie spoke to so many aspects of my own heart.
Growing up in one culture of people, and loving someone from another, brings all kinds of feelings to me as I try to make sense of life in all of it. Perhaps we all know these feelings in a way. Perhaps, whether it has to do with skin color or not, perhaps we all experience the confusion of seeing life from one place, then seeing it from another and struggling to make these very different things we’ve seen make sense in our hearts.
Whether or not the Pocahontas movie is historically accurate, I love it for telling the story it tells. When John Smith, in love with Pocahontas, accidentally calls her people savages to her face, it tells true stories of people loving each other beyond the fears that have kept them apart. When his friends believe that her kind is not trustworthy and when her father worries that his people are not trustworthy, they are really both friendly people who want the best for their families. They can’t get along because they are afraid the people with different skin mean them harm, when really they are so much more alike on the inside than they know. When Pocahontas and John Smith find their people at odds with each other, they are find confusion in their story. Pocahontas struggles with doubting herself. But when an act of her love spreads peace in a time of division, it finds me where I am.
I do find myself confused by my story. Trying to see the world as someone who grew up one way and deeply loves someone who grew up another way, makes the constant struggle for peace between peoples bring that much more ache to my soul. Seeing the world through so many stages of life, can try the soul, no matter who you are or what your story is.
Sometimes my heart aches to find the end of confusion, and I want it all to look as simple as when I had only seen it from one point of view. But I would not trade the beauty of the love I have known for all the simplicity in the world…
And the truth spoken through John captures me today. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18)
A lack of peace is always caused by fear. And it is love that breaks that fear.
When Pocahontas threw herself in front of the weapon meant for John Smith, love broke fear in the hearts of so many witnesses. The story that day was changed by love.
When Jesus took the shame of our worst darkness, love broke fear in the greatest way, changing our own stories. And love breaks fear every time we give on the love He gave us.
And the story is confusing sometimes, but it doesn’t have to make sense to be a part of the beautiful love I’ve been given. And the thing that confused me becomes something that breaks fear in my heart and by grace on from there.
Even when it is confusing, sharing the story is sharing the love. I can testify to the times people have shared their story with me in confusion and in doing so they poured love into me.
For my own story, watching Pocahontas makes me remember what a blessing I experience in my own love story. It makes me want to say thank you. This country has been one that intends to strive for the equality of people. And there have been so many triumphs. We have walked away from slavery. People from all different backgrounds and cultures can vote today and be voted into office, actions that flow from beautiful triumphs. Different races now share the same schools and bathrooms. In 1958, Richard and Mildred Loving were thrown in jail for the “crime” of getting married across cultures. And today just fifty-nine years later, my husband and I are blessed to enjoy our own union at no threat of the law.
Today, even though it can take on so many differing forms, we see Americans from all viewpoints striving for equality. So many Americans strive for equality of the unborn. So many Americans strive for equality of immigrants and refugees. So many Americans strive for equality of the belittled and underprivileged. And with grace and love that carries beyond what our own eyes can see, Americans can strive for equality of all.
On the inside we are all in the same image, with the same feelings, the same struggle with fear, the same longing for love. We are made able to see each other with love, no matter what differences stand between us, and we continue to strive for that love.
We may be confused by the story, it may make us feel so many doubts and questions, but may we befriend the way it feels in the presence of Christ and tell the story still. This is grace: we do not have to understand everything about our stories, in order for God to use the sharing of them. When we share the story God is authoring in us, we share the love we’ve been given – love that breaks fear.