But before we get to what happened when Oliver came to find Shane, we need to establish a frame of reference for Shane’s psychological and emotional state when that interaction occurred.
Let’s remember Shane’s faith formula:
God Faith ←→ Sight
This formula revealed a vulnerability through which Shane could be unwittingly led astray due to the subconscious competing interest of “sight,” doomed to ceaselessly bounce back and forth between these two points in an attempt to walk by faith and by sight simultaneously.
Where Shane possessed the capacity to walk by faith, she also had the capacity to turn it into something she could see. Writing to Oliver, using his pen, and trying to find Hattie were all things she could “see,” and do, in an attempt to feed and nurture her faith to keep it alive.
While ultimately allowing her to preserve “the confidence of things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen,” and withstand the enemy’s onslaught of attacks as discussed yesterday, her coping mechanisms lacked the capacity to sustain her faith long term. (Heb. 11:1)
Where Shane had resisted “sight” in one context---the enemy’s barrage of attacks in the form of fear, discouragement and psychological warfare---she ultimately fell victim to it in another.
Responding to her deep “assurance of things not seen,” Shane fed, nurtured and made tangible this aspect of her faith by using Oliver’s pen, pouring her heart out to him in the letters she wrote, as well as searching for Hattie. But when the search for Hattie produced a solid lead, it could no longer be a method by which Shane sought to sustain her faith. Similarly, lacking a feedback mechanism as a result of her inability to send them, Shane poured her heart and soul into those letters, but there was nothing to replenish her faith or grow it. And if something doesn’t grow, it starts to die, and that’s what eventually happened to Shane’s faith.
In operation, Shane’s faith relied upon elements that could made tangible in order to be sustained. Faith and sight, being the antithesis of one another, it’s no surprise this formula failed. Faith is supposed to point us to God, not sight. But this formula doesn’t make that connection, so when faith could no longer be expressed tangibly a void remained, and it’s here the real wilderness opened up. With no end in sight, Shane’s faith began to erode, not because of the enemy’s pressure, but because she wasn’t connected to the right power source to keep it going. Shane may have decided to “survive it all,” but by the time she returned to U.S. soil, her heart, mind and spirit were on life support.
The Wilderness Effect
We can only imagine the level of pain Shane must have been in away from everyone and everything she loved, trying to keep her faith alive by writing letters she couldn’t (or didn’t) send. We might imagine that, over time, her unexpressed feelings created a vacuum of isolation and loneliness that caused Shane to emotionally implode in exhaustion, visible on her face as she emerges to find Oliver and Steve in the lobby. Perhaps even so much pain that the only way to manage it was to bury it.
Of course, trying to circumvent her pain also disconnected her from her source of faith, causing her to turn more and more towards the system she spent every moment resisting since she left Denver. Given her insistence to Oliver in the lobby that “the work [she was] doing was really important,” and that there was “a lot more work left to be done," it appears that to bury her pain Shane buried herself in the work at hand. Perhaps this was the only way she knew how to survive. Even so, it took a toll of its own at an even deeper level, one that reached to the very core of her identity.
If I didn’t know any better, however, Oliver as a sounding board sounds more like Oliver as an accuser in his initial interactions with Shane, rebutting her “I’d give anything to see that,” with “Apparently not.” Clearly unaware of the emotional suffering she endured, Oliver seems uncaring, despite his appearance at Langley as testimony to the contrary. And despite Shane’s suddenly energetic explanation of how she located Hattie, by the time she attempts to hand him the information, all she can muster is a very unconfident, “I hope she was worth waiting for.”
Unable to keep her faith alive and growing and lacking the tools to effectively manage the pain that resulted, Shane’s attempts to circumvent that pain ultimately alienated her from faith. When Shane turned to the system she once resisted for solace, she fell into complacency, which, when challenged, ultimately revealed the extent to which Shane’s faith had eroded. What Shane didn’t realize is that she was rapidly approaching another critical choice between “faith” and “sight.” But to make the decision, Shane needed to not only be cognizant of the emerging fork in the road, but also prepared to evaluate the options.
The last thing the enemy (or Steve) wanted was for Shane and Oliver to have contact with one another, hence Steve’s “incommunicado” bit on the porch and then the “she’s out of the country” bit in Langley. So when Shane entered the Department of Defense lobby, the spiritual battle between “faith” and “sight” that started on her porch instantly renewed.
Shane’s faith may have eroded as a consequence of not being connected to the correct power source, but Oliver’s appearance was the jump start Shane needed.
God Faith ←→ Sight
Not only did she attempt to keep her faith alive by trying to do things that could be “seen” to keep her connection to Oliver while they were separated, her faith was now made manifest with his physical presence.
This is where Shane’s reliance on “sight,” however, began to get her in trouble, as Oliver’s distant behavior ultimately resulted in Shane downgrading “She knew that he loved her...she knew,” to “I hope she was worth waiting for.” Her confidence questionable, something about the moment also felt like a seed of reconciliation, a moment the enemy (and Steve) swiftly interrupted.
The enemy’s endgame here was to prevent Shane and Oliver’s relationship from finding solid ground. Her faith vulnerable, Oliver’s reaction to the phone quickly sent things into a tailspin, particularly when Shane, still demonstrating a lack of clarity on the choice between “faith” and “sight” said, “I have to get back.”
Oliver striking a raw nerve, the pain Shane tried so hard to suppress visibly begins to resurface, priming her for the truth (and the tools) that would ultimately help set her free.
Oliver’s “hypothetical” scenario forced Shane to confront the possibility that she might not have all the facts she needed to make the decision whether to stay or go. The thought Oliver might be right flashes across her face before she responds “Steve would let me go home,” but even she doesn’t appear to fully believe that. It’s suspicion confirmed when Oliver presents another critical fact: “Why would a man, who obviously cares so much about you, let you go if he didn’t have to?” It’s one Shane attempts to deflect, with “I ask myself that all the time,” seemingly redirecting the trajectory of his argument.
As Oliver spoke his heart, that “[he] can’t lie to [her],” Shane’s confidence---and perhaps even her assurance of things not seen---returned as well, quietly whispering, “I know.” If the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains, then she only needed “a little” to move the obstacle separating her and Oliver. Not only does Oliver give that to Shane, but he also presented her with a fact---“I can’t lie to you,” and tells Shane the “fact” she still needs to make her decision---if Steve can lie to her.
Confronting The Lie
Notice Shane frames her question in the very terms used to lure her from Denver, “Am I here because you need me or because you want me?” These are also the criteria Oliver suggested Shane use to consider her situation: the “need” being her services as an “emergency consulting asset,” and “want” as Steve’s intentions as “a man who care[d] about her so much.” Instead of letting Steve frame the question or dictate the terms as she did months before, she makes clear she wants his answer to fall under the category of “need” or “want.”
Of course, as the enemy does, he deflected immediately to confuse Shane in an attempt to make her question Oliver instead. Unmoved, Shane not only defends Oliver, but also herself, demanding the ability to “make up [her] own mind” and the “facts” to do so. As she continued to press Steve for facts, he revealed his deception, as well as his attempt to mix his personal and professional interests.
What’s interesting is that Steve proceeded to lump the professional with, “You’re really telling me you want to give that all up for a squeaky porch swing in Denver?,” a clearly personal, and completely separate, issue. The professional is equal, but the personal is not, and it’s that distinction which Shane had to see through. Steve fails to distinguish between “want” and “need,” instead choosing to disparage Oliver’s demonstration of “want” in the swing, the origins of which extended far beyond its “squeak.”
Finally, however, Steve acknowledged “the truth” as Shane initially defined it, admitting “[he’s] still in love with [her],” a reality squarely within the parameters of “want.”
Presented the facts in their entirety, both that Steve “wanted” her and that Steve is also capable of lying to her, Shane made the decision to return home.
When Shane entered the Department of Defense lobby, the war between “faith” and “sight” renewed, a reality played out between Oliver and Steve. It was exactly the scenario required to not only bring Shane out of her complacency, but provide her the opportunity and the tools to finally get out of the wilderness so she could “stop living in limbo and start living [her] life” again. Presented the facts, Shane was finally able to definitively choose between “faith” and “sight." Exiting the wilderness, however, Shane still had to return home and contend with the pain she suppressed, a critical component in finally receiving the blessing she fought through the wilderness and back for.
Meanwhile, God had been preparing Shane and Oliver not only for this reunion, but for their future, undermining the enemy even before Shane and Oliver left each other's side. We'll take a look at that next week.
P.S. Have you heard? Signed, Sealed, Delivered Movie 8 has a title, air date & more! See it here.
The Enemy At The Gate: The Setup | Insanity Cycle | Breaking The Cycle | Letters From War | The Choice | A Promise Made | A Promise Fulfilled | Unlocked