Shane reached a critical juncture in her journey, where she chose between faith and sight, represented by Oliver and Steve respectively. The choice found Shane ultimately responding to “sight,” but at the same time clinging to “faith.”
The Sight Of Faith
In some ways Shane departing with Steve is a direct link to her desire to be pursued---specifically her “want to be wanted” and “need to be needed”--- which Steve fulfilled first by seeking her out, then by claiming he needed her skills given her ties to USPS specifically and required “the best hackers in the business.” He made her feel special on the porch, and apparently did so in a way that rendered her no-contact order and non-specific timeline for return a non-issue, or at least left Shane not suspicious. Instead of giving her facts, however, Steve manipulated her feelings to some extent in this way, a tactic to which Shane subconsciously responded, causing her to go with Steve. It’s this blind spot of which the enemy took advantage in an attempt to lead her astray on a deeper level.
In this scenario, the conflict between Shane, Oliver and Steve can also be reflected as what is “seen” versus “what is unseen,” where Steve represents “sight,” Oliver represents “faith” and Shane is caught in the middle. If we continue with the premise that the enemy wished to target faith, the “confidence in things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen” on the porch, then it’s no surprise Shane appears conflicted throughout the entire scene, attempting to “serve two masters,” as it were, which are actually the antithesis of one another. It’s the space between fully committing to one over the other that comprises Shane’s wilderness experience at the outset.
As we already discussed in Oliver’s section, this word was also a coded message for him. Shane was confident in what she hoped for---her relationship with Oliver. We can infer her assurance was derived from the kiss they shared---which was “not seen,” by the way---and conveyed the depth of Oliver’s unexpressed feelings, which Shane identified as love. Her assurance begets confidence, which allowed her to have faith. And it’s this faith that the enemy challenged.
If the enemy was determined to attack “the confidence in things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen,” he was looking for a vulnerability in this belief system. (Heb 11:1) At the outset, Shane’s was intact. Let’s map it:
Faith→ Confidence in things hoped for→ Assurance of things not seen
So far, so good. And since faith connects us to God then:
God→ Faith→ Confidence in things hoped for→ Assurance of things not seen
God Faith ←→ Sight
This formula reveals a vulnerability through which Shane could be unwittingly led astray due to the subconscious competing interest of “sight.” Because faith and sight cannot technically co-exist as an option, Shane is unable to “make the connection” to God---who is "not seen"---alienating her from a critical, sustained power source, and dooming her to ceaselessly bounce back and forth between these two points in an attempt to walk by faith and sight.
Even as Shane entered the wilderness---a result of choosing “sight” by physically going with Steve---Shane walked by “faith” in the sense that, on an “unseen” level, she latched onto the “confidence of things hoped for” by relying on the “assurance of things not seen,” and clinging to it during her time away.
The Unseen Battle
"When we lifted off into the clouds, I realized that you have made a believer out of me. It was no mistake that I was transferred to the dead letter office instead of direct line operations...We could not have begun the dancing together so long ago without learning the steps we needed to find our way back to each other..."
The letter apparently also made reference to “kissing [Oliver] on the steps.” It was a clear declaration of faith, “the confidence in things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen.” At the same time, however, she was traveling further and further away from her power source.
Already disconnected from God by virtue of her sight/faith conflict of interest, the next closest grounding point was Oliver. Therefore, the first major onslaught of the enemy was extracting Shane from everything and everyone she loves, removing her grounding point. Out of her element, she might be diminished in resolve to be steadfast in faith and tempted to make different choices than she would at home. It’s a bet the enemy banked on and employed several tactics to do so.
The first, and most blatantly obvious, tactic the enemy utilized was temptation. Simply Steve’s presence was possible temptation for Shane should she ever take her eyes off of her faith and her intention to return home to Oliver.
Slander & Gossip
This one you absolutely missed---but Steve found it appropriate at some point to comment on Oliver “never say[ing] what he means.” The enemy was trying to get Shane to speak badly of Oliver. A subtle attempt to divide-and-conquer on an “unseen” level, speaking ill of him would have compromised Shane’s integrity and caused her to act out of something other than “grace,” which the nature of her name and character demands.
The enemy works through fear---both internal and external---and discouragement. Strong at the outset, the enemy got to work using a variety of tactics designed to infiltrate Shane’s faith on an “unseen” level, making it the most dangerously pervasive---and persistent--- of attacks.
“And the second one I wrote---with your pen---after we landed, and told you that I...I wish I’d never left…”
Though not particularly obvious, Shane’s second letter demonstrates signs of guilt and regret over leaving. This is the enemy’s attempt to create an opening through which he could begin to attack her faith. Notice that this happened “after [she] landed” meaning after she had written that first, extremely confident, letter. So it’s clear the enemy attempted to erode her confidence the minute she stepped off the plane into foreign, unfamiliar territory (the wilderness).
Doubling-down, the enemy transitioned from attacking the personal to targeting the professional. We don’t know exactly what triggered Shane to become “afraid [she] can’t do what they need [her] to do,” but we can infer that the enemy whispered discouragement such that Shane began to question her fitness to complete the tasks set before her.
“And the fourth one is about how I’m afraid I’m gonna die before I can see you again…”
Unsuccessful up until this point, the enemy attempted to compromise Shane by attacking the most basic of human instincts: Survival.
Life or death situations, and fear of physical harm, have profound emotional and psychological impact, the kind the enemy could use to immediately rob Shane of the “confidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen.” She obviously can’t be confident in her ability to return home to Oliver if her life is in danger. By causing her to fear for her life, she might look to something---or someone---she can see for protection, like Steve. But to turn to Steve would mean falling into old habits, forfeiting all her progress with Oliver, giving in to sight and forfeiting faith.
But it’s the way that Shane decided to “survive it all”---which occurred long before she wrote that fifth letter---- that, while in faith, also made it a bit of a problem.
If her faith formula looked like this:
God Faith ←→ Sight
Then Shane was always destined to bounce back and forth endlessly between these two entities while abroad. And much like Oliver devised coping mechanisms to try and keep his hope alive, so did Shane.
The first coping method we encountered was Shane taking it upon herself to pursue leads and find Hattie, an activity she and Oliver shared in common. As she states later, “[she] couldn’t stop thinking about her” and checked every record she could think of in an attempt to obtain a lead. And, of course, she used Oliver’s pen to take down her findings, which she eventually had the opportunity to pass on. But when Shane finally obtained the information she needed, she no longer had that “power source” to plug into, leaving her letters to Oliver as her sole outlet.
Clearly Shane poured her whole heart and soul into those letters she wrote throughout the course of her time away, but “what good is a letter if you don’t mail it?” I imagine over time her unexpressed feelings created a vacuum of isolation and loneliness that caused Shane to emotionally implode. Even her letters were a limited method of nurturing and feeding her faith, lacking a feedback mechanism to continue to grow that faith over time. You get a sense of this in the way she focuses solely on the task at hand, only engaging momentarily with Steve as he initiated it. And by the last time we see her, she barely acknowledges him as they trade Chinese takeout cartons. She is a shell of her normal self.
Shane did her best to preserve “the confidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen” by resisting the enemy’s onslaught of attacks during her time abroad. (Heb 11:1) But while she successfully resisted the temptation to be drawn back into old habits, her coping mechanisms lacked the capacity to sustain her faith long term, creating a visible emotional strain that pushed her into a new extreme, the nature of which we get the best picture of when she returns to U.S. soil.
Come back Thursday for that!
The Enemy At The Gate: The Setup | Insanity Cycle | Breaking The Cycle | Letters From War | The Choice | A Promise Made | A Promise Fulfilled | Unlocked