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Stretching and Being Stretched

I recently read two very different Star Trek AOS fan fics. In the first fic, the author did some really amazing things with Spock’s childhood and how his father’s disapproval and his peers’ bullying formed him into someone with serious issues in how he viewed himself. He started to believe them–to see himself as less than vulcan and less than human and, ultimately, less than a person. So the author used that starting place to stretch Spock and to force him to grow in some really neat ways. It also gives a really interesting potential window into the movie’s background and sets up Spock to change the people around him. He becomes a force for change. I love stories with good character development!

In the second fic, Jim negotiates some awesome thing with another species, and they reward him. They decide that the thing Jim needs most is a happy childhood, so they give him this potion and he reverts back to the last time he was truly happy (when he was living with his grandparents at age 3 or 4). This is not an unusual plot for Star Trek AOS. What was unusual about it was that the author made it so that he didn’t retain any of his adult memories and in the end, the crew was unable to bring adult Jim back. They decide it’s their job to give him a happy childhood–especially McCoy and Spock–so they go through the process of raising him. It was an unfinished fic, so I don’t know exactly where the author was taking it, but what really struck me was the author’s note about how he/she had had a happy childhood and was appalled at Jim’s childhood so he/she was going to give him a happy childhood.

The author KILLED Jim Kirk! I mean, the essence of who he is in AOS is defined by the experiences he’s had. Yes, if you wipe his memories, he’s still alive, but so much of what he’s passionate about is a direct result of his screwed up childhood. For instance, would he be so against “no-win scenarios” if he hadn’t had his father die in one (and/or gone through Tarsus, depending on your AOS character philosophy)? A huge part of what makes him a good captain is all those crappy experiences that shaped his life.

John Eldridge talks about how Satan’s flaming arrows are lies that we get told over and over in our lives. A recurrent theme in my life is the idea that I wreck the lives of everyone who gets close to me. Crazily enough, I’ve been told that by a few different people. And for a long time it was just part of my identity. I used to see myself as so broken that it was like I was made of broken glass and whenever someone got close to me, they’d get sliced open.

However, that analogy only works if everyone else around you is made of flesh instead of broken glass. The reality is that we’re all like rocks in a tumbler, getting our rough edges smoothed off by each other–or like iron sharpening iron. We’re both stretching others and being stretched. So yes, I know I’ve hurt people in my life–who hasn’t?–but that doesn’t mean I should stop getting close to other people or see myself as having more destructive ability than any other human being. We all hurt the people in our lives. It’s part of being broken humans. But all those rough edges we’ve got are less like knives waiting to slice each other open and more like tools that God can use to shape the world and the people around us.

After all, if we let them, it’s the difficult things in our lives that shape us and give us a destiny.

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