Monday, May 24, 2010
We are all Samson...sometimes...
So, I haven't really made it any secret that I am a Mormon. I love my religion, it is a large part of who I am and I see how it blesses me everyday. I have friends from all walks of life, that believe many different things. I was fortunate to be raised in a house where we were taught to look for similarities rather than differences when it comes to other religions. I have learned so much from all my friends, and I hope that I have been able to teach them a few things as well...just in case I haven't, I'd like to start now.
I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday, and I think it is something we all can relate to, so I decided I had to share.
I was sitting in Sunday School yesterday. We started the book of Judges in the Old Testament. We made it through to the story of Samson and Delilah. Now, I know not everyone believes in God, or the bible, but I think the moral of the story that hit me in the face yesterday is a lesson that can be universally learned.
You'd think the story of Samson and Delilah is pretty cut and dry..I used to. Samson made some bad choices, started hanging out with the wrong crowd, trusted the wrong person and it ultimately brought him to his downfall... That is the story, atleast that is the story I always remember reading....
As we were reading, it struck me that even though it was obvious that Delilah was trying to take away Samson's super human strength, even though it was obvious that she was focused on helping to bring about his destruction, Samson kept going back. Not once did this happen, but 3 times! I was so confounded...why on earth would you want to go back to someone that keeps trying to hurt you? Why would you freely keep walking into an obviously dangerous situation?
I was sitting, contemplating this. Well the universe heard my thoughts. The teacher of the Sunday School class posed the same question. Of course, the standard answer came from somewhere down the row from me, "Samson probably thought that because he had already been misbehaving and the Lord hadn't taken his strength yet, that he was invincible."
Hmmm okay. I guess that works...but no. You would have to think that there would be another reason. Why keep going back to a situation where people are obviously wanting to destroy you? Why would you spend time with those people?
Then, a quiet answer came from behind me. A girl spoke up, "His faith in his strength might be the answer, but that doesn't tell us why he kept going back..." At this point I was wondering who had put the bug inside my brain and was listening to my thoughts.
"Samson went back because he loved Delilah. He trusted her, he didn't believe that she would ever really hurt him, which is why he ultimately told her the truth about how to take away his strength. Samson had finally learned how to love unconditionally, but he loved, and trusted the wrong person." Oh my goodness...I am Samson! This thought seemed to blast through my brain...because it seems to be the story of my life...but hang with me for a minute here.
Let's look at Samson's track record. Samson was used to things being handed to him. When we read his story in the bible, we find that he married outside of the covenant (he lusted after a girl he saw at a well and had his father go ask for her hand in marriage.) His parents tried to help him to understand that this would not be the best marital situation, but Samson forged ahead. Obviously, it didn't fulfill him, because we also read that he frequented the beds of harlots as he traveled. Finally, Samson meets Delilah, a Philistine. He spends his time with her, perhaps for the first time he felt like he could be at peace...but was it really peace? I have thought about this over the last 24 hours and it almost seems like even though his life had been plotted for him by God, even though he knew he was destined for greatness (the man killed a lion with his bare hands for goodness sakes!), he didn't know if he wanted the future that could be in store for him if he would be faithful. It seemed like he was running from his greatness. With Delilah, he didn't have to think about the future, or his family, or what he was running from. I can see how it would be easy to fall in love with this ideal. But what good is love if the people around you that love you can't share in the excitement?
I think we all can be like Samson. We all have a tendency to revisit situations, places, memories, or people hoping that our individual strength will see us through. We also want to love and trust way that we want to be loved and trusted. Sometimes, we make mistakes and loving and trusting the wrong things, or people. Whether you're like me, and allow yourself to be taken back in by people in your past that maybe don't have your best interests at heart, or whether your problem is situational and you have an addiction, or an old habit that you just can't manage to break.
We are all Samson. We all inside of us have the potential to be great. We run away from greatness...we fear it because of the responsibility that comes along with being great. Why we fear it is beyond me. Sometimes the thought can be overwhelming, but think of what a blessing it is and can be in our lives if we could just accept our greatness and embrace it.
Samson didn't have to die, captive and blind to the world around him. He realized too late how much God loved him and how, even though he kept running from his greatness, God had continued to bless him.
How often do we allow ourselves to be held captive by situations, emotions, and habits? How often does this captivity blind us to the world around us?
How different might Samson's story have been if he had made the decision to trust and have hope for his future? How different might it have been if he hadn't let his strength go to his head, if he had just remembered where he got that strength? How different might it have been if he had recognized the toxicity of his relationships and recognized that the people he was surrounding himself with didn't really care about him the way he cared about them. How different might it have been if he had trusted the right people when it really mattered?
Just some food for thought.
How are you like Samson? What dangerous situations do you keep returning to out of love, or out of the misguided belief that you are strong enough to withstand anything?
I am like Samson.
But, now that I recognize it, I know how to change the ending of the story. I won't allow myself to be placed in captivity. I won't realize after its too late that I am loved and that because of that, I am great. My story will end happily because I am going to make it a point to no longer fear my potential for greatness.