One of my favorite movies is “Fight Club.”
The story is great – it’s edgy, it’s different, it’s a little bit dark. I know a lot of Christians who just don’t get my obsession with it, or how I can sit through dozens of viewings. The reason that “Fight Club” has become my litmus test for whether a girl is marriage material is because I see an almost cultish religion or theology behind the story. Like a human relationship, you may not understand the first or second time you see it, but once you begin to understand the characters, their motivations and backstories, you slowly start to understand it.
My favorite quote from the movie comes after a moment of duress, and amidst the conflict, one character says to the other:
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
The movie presents a pseudo-theology; one I might avow, if only in a nihilistic world apart from the God made known in Jesus. While many facets of this so-called religion would never align with orthodox Christianity, I believe the quote above lies perfectly within a scriptural, Christian narrative.
Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (ESV)
This three-worded gospel is one I find throughout Fight Club as well as the Word of God:
This mantra has been my motivation far less than I should like, but has been the best advice I’ve ever received. In a world without deity, such as “Fight Club” it simply means ceasing to care what anyone thinks. Forget what anyone thinks of you. Forget social norms. Forget morals. In some ways, forget self-preservation — death holds no value, because you’re already nothing. This is well and good apart from any form of a godhead. And while it may be carefree, but it’s also deeply lamentable.
When we are told to “let go,” and thus relinquish anxieties and concerns that weigh us down, we don’t transcendentally receive some sort of miraculous absolution that makes life golden and perfect. The ambiguity of the phrase “let go” has been tritely overused by well-meaning Christians for so many years that it’s lost all potency. The question we’re faced with so often is simply “how?” You make it seem so easy! How can I just “let go” of the guilt, the shame, the anger, the frustration? Why do you expect me to? To whom am I letting go?
If, however, the object and recipient of our actions of release is a loving, benevolent character deserving our trust because of his ability to steward all things, then the interaction changes from a process of letting a balloon fly into the stratosphere, into something much more intentional and thus, immensely more reassuring.
We have such a steadfast guardian. We have a Father. Jesus calls Him “abba,” — our daddy. When we let go, we don’t just give it up haphazardly unto nothingness. We abdicate the things we would so tightly grasp unto One whom we believe belongs “the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever.” We “let go” to our loving Father who holds the universe and simultaneously counts the hairs on our head. We entrust our lives to the trustworthy.
I’m halfway tempted to get the phrase “let go” tattooed somewhere instantly visible because of my propensity to forget how painful it is to hold onto things that I should have given up a long time ago. There are past relationships that I wish I could manipulate to make things right. I still feel bitterness, hurt, sadness, or any of the wide array of negative emotions. There are things in my present life that stress me to no end – bills to pay, people to please, careers to advance. I look to the future and see a grey void filled with question marks that make me want to scream from fear and anxiety.
But I hear the voice of my Maker saying “let go.” He invites me to trust Him. Even if I have to let go time and time again, each time He says “Believe me. I’m in control. I can handle it.” Our God would not see us weighed down by these preoccupations, when the life He’s promised offers inordinately more freedom and security under His protection: joys we quickly forfeit when we grasp too tightly to our own ideals and presumptions, our hurts and hang ups, our manipulations and pandering.
After all, it’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.