Giving Thanks

The Chains of Sin and the Gift of Freedom (A Look at "Game of Thrones")

Before delving into this post, I would like to make it known that I have NEVER (before last night, anyway) watched “Game of Thrones” in any form or fashion.  But last night, I was led to searching YouTube clips of the show (because I’m a HUGE Natalie Dormer fan, and I was looking for any clips of her) and spent a good bit of time getting acquainted with the storyline.

Let me just say to all you GOT addicts – I totally understand!
I doubt I’ll ever watch the show on tv, but it is a really great storyline.
The very last clip I watched was this season 3 finale clip…
…and two things happened:
  • I fell in love with yet another British actress (what is it with me and British actresses?) – Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen.
  • I found myself with a bad case of insomnia, as all I could think of was the amazing lessons to be learned from this clip (epiphanies can completely undo us, sometimes).  It wasn’t until much tossing and turning, I was finally able to put my epiphany to rest by promising to write a blog about it today.  So, in keeping my promise to…well…myself, here are the “Life Lessons” learned from this final scene of Season 3 of Game of Thrones.
So what are these life lessons that kept me up until the wee hours of the night?

Life Lesson #1: We Learn to Love our Chains
In this clip, Daenerys (aka Mother of Dragons and Khaleesi) has had her quite formidable military leaders liberate the slaves of Yunkai by defeating the lords of the city.  She is waiting for the Yunkai to come out of the city to meet her.  She is worried, because after all…

“People learn to love their chains.” 
~ Daenerys Targaryen
When people live enslaved to someone or something long enough, they become almost attached to them – they begin to love them.  Research has coined such a shift in the human psyche as the “Stockholm Syndrome” or “capture bonding.”  It is amazing how human reasoning can lead those in these situations to “love their chains” by making them believe there is reason for the suffering…to the point they come to love the suffering.

These chains come in many forms.  The more obvious ones – slavery, oppression, addiction, etc – are chains that come form those outside of ourselves and are forced upon us.  But there are also chains in our lives that we force upon ourselves.  Pride, envy, scorn, malice, unwillingness to forgive, and other such things that comes from the depths of our souls also keep us from living free.  These are the things that wear down our souls, eating away at us as we plunge deeper and deeper into the chasms of hatred, pessimism, and depression.  But we refuse to let these go, believing that it is for our own good to be distrustful, looking out for ourselves first, as this is the “wise” thing to do. 

But what happens when we are shackled to these things?  We find ourselves unable to relate well with others…ultimately alone and isolated (and humans are not meant to be isolated and alone).  We cannot revel in the joy of freely relating with others because we become suspicious and wary.  Even if we do find someone we can trust in, the pride and the selfishness that is revealed in us repels those who try to get close.

It’s a problem…a real problem.  And we unfortunately do not have the ability to free ourselves from these chains because we live in a world that forces us to hang onto them in order to survive.

We love our chains…because we believe they are the best 
we can ever hope for (or the only means to our survival).

The only way we can hope to be free is if someone else, who is unaffected by such chains and have power over those who force them on us, breaks them for us.  This is what Daenerys does for the Yunkai people – with such powerful fighters at her disposal, she is able to command them to free them from the influences that keep the Yunkai enslaved.  In the same way, we need one who is free from the things that enslave us to free us…because it’s impossible to break chains when you are so very tangled up in them.

Life Lesson #2: Freedom is Ours to Take
Most people would agree with Missendei when she tells the Yunkai that they owe their freedom to Daenerys.  After all, it was her action against the masters of the city that gave them the ability to walk away from slavery.  

But Daenerys knew better.  
She may have given the Yunkai the opportunity to be free, but she could not force them to capitalize on that opportunity (the whole “you can lead a horse to water, but can’t make them drink” idea).

“Your freedom is not mine to give.  It belongs to you and you alone.  
If you want it back, you must take it for yourselves.  
Each and every one of you.”     ~ Daenerys Targaryen

The Yunkai could either choose to continue living captive to their past chains…or they can choose to throw them down and live freely.  Once we understand what our chains are, and that they have been overcome on our behalf, we have the opportunity to choose to continue hanging onto them or cast them aside.  It’s not easy to cast them aside, because we found safety in these chains…as long as we wore them, we would not be harmed.  We could survive.  It takes courage to step away from this security and allow the freedom to sink in, because its risky business.

So Daenerys is right, whens she said freedom was not hers to give.  No one can force anyone to give up their chains and break their dependence on them.  They must choose to do it for themselves.  
A gift given is not a gift received until the receiver chooses to receive it. 
(WHEW!  That’s a mouthful.)
We can all choose to continue being prideful…selfish…hateful…unforgiving.  Or we can choose to allow this gift of freedom to help us swallow our pride, put our needs after the needs of others, be loving, and forgive.  The first will continue to enslave us to the lords of isolation and loneliness (which are many times root causes of self-destruction).  But the second will bring us closer to others, freeing us to love and be loved.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
What intrigued me the most about these lessons are the parallels to my own faith – understanding that the sins of pride, envy, scorn, malice, etc have enslaved me to a life of loneliness.  I cannot tell you how many times I have allowed these sins to push away people in my life whom I cared for or I had once called friends (or could have called friends).  They made me into someone I couldn’t even bear to face in the mirror – someone I never wanted to be, leaving me in the throes of depression and self loathing. 
But in Christ, I had received an amazing gift – the chance to be freed from myself and my sinful desires.  I had the opportunity to choose freedom from the things that made me hate myself.  I didn’t have to be ruled by paranoia and didn’t have to guard my own heart by hiding behind my chains.  I could trust in One who was greater than those who could hurt me to guard my heart for me…and bring me peace and comfort.  This freed me to be able to ask for forgiveness from those I have hurt, forgive those who hurt me, and ultimately love without abandon (which usually leads to being loved without abandon).  
Choosing freedom is not automatic, and I do revisit my chains again and again.  But as I allow the joys of freedom to overwhelm me, I find myself wanting to revisit my old chains less.  And I know there will be a day when I can leave them completely behind in this world as I move on into the presence and care of the One whom the chains of sin had never touched.  He’s changing me, continually bringing me closer to perfection, until the day He finishes this work and brings me home.
How great is this gift of freedom received.
How awesome is the One who offers it to us.

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