The Space Between
She may have learned what and whom were important to her, but the methods she used to express those desires and values found her using them for the opposite purpose when she returned to the DLO. Responding to pain, Shane used them on offense to get the answers she needed from Oliver as she attempted to guard her heart at the same time.
Shane returned to the DLO expecting to find everything in the same condition it was left, only to find her desk moved. Given her interaction with Oliver in the scene to follow, it’s clear Shane interpreted the move as Oliver’s signal that she was no longer worth waiting for. We can assume that as she made her way around the room she spied the index cards on Oliver’s desk, quickly discovering he experimented with kombucha recipes. At once Shane was presented with conflicting evidence---Oliver’s “seen” act of moving her desk, and the “unseen” sentiment that prompted him to try and recreate that recipe that meant so much to her.
Leading up to their kiss, Shane attempts to reconcile this discrepancy between “seen” and “unseen” by forcing Oliver to outwardly declare the sentiments that drove his actions, using specific---and familiar---means to achieve those ends.
Shane spent a significant portion of their interaction digging for Oliver’s motive for moving her desk, the only acceptable answer framed in very specific terms required to fall into the bucket of “I missed you.” It’s reasonable to believe that Shane already knew the answer, taking his experimental kombucha recipes as affirmation that he did still love her, but refusing to let him off the hook til she had the answer she wanted in the terms she dictated.
Shane started off by reading off Oliver’s various experiments, the evidence of his “unseen” sentiments. To gather more evidence of his intentions, Shane asked Oliver if he tended her roses, confirming he followed through on his promise to her. Pressing the issue of her desk for the first time, Shane elicited from him, “it was temporary.” Not satisfying the parameters of “I missed you,” Shane inserted Steve into the conversation, perhaps thinking mention of him would prompt Oliver to be more explicit in his responses moving forward.
Seeing it only served to incite Oliver---and clearly beside the point---Shane confirmed Oliver’s suspicions about Steve, while showing him unmerited grace in deeming him “competitive.” Oliver’s response presented an additional opportunity for Shane to press for transparency, hinting how achieve that. Missing it, Shane gives him an additional opportunity to explain about her desk.
As the interrogation progressed, it became clearer and clearer that Shane could only confirm her “confidence in things hoped for, the assurance of things not seen,” if Oliver confessed with his mouth “I missed you.” Until then, she intended to “hold her cards.”
Feeling dismissed, Shane fired back, revealing the content of her letters, which swiftly debunked Oliver’s accusation. Unable to conceal the content of her heart any longer, the pain of the previous three months poured out. Shane “showed her hand” as she defended her feelings, with no assurances from Oliver.
“Love is hard work, Oliver. It’s always trying to find that balance between too much and too little, too high and too low, we never get it perfect---but we never stop trying.”
They were Shane’s words to Oliver in Truth Be Told, but they perfectly encompass Oliver’s actions in the DLO. He had done much to “work” to demonstrate his feelings for Shane, but received (or embraced) very little opportunity to express the feelings that drove them. With each exchange, Oliver learned in real time how to be a better man and express himself more fully and transparently.
Still processing her return, Oliver found himself in the middle of an interrogation to which he attempted to respond as transparently as possible, first about the rationale behind the ginger ale, then again about fulfilling his promise to tend the roses. When asked the first time about the desk Oliver provided a technical answer, perhaps missing the underlying inquiry. Aggravated, he gets emotionally jarred at the mention of Steve, so when asked about the desk again he responded, “It was hard to look at every day.”
Oliver is being forced to verbalize and articulate the nature of his pain as it related to being separated from Shane, as well as his encounter with her at Langley. Shane is demanding he dig in a few minutes to the core of feelings that have accumulated for months, which he clearly struggled to do. Where in the past he might have excused himself from the conversation or fired back at Shane, Oliver maintained his composure as he tried to meet her expectations.
Shane’s raw response revealed to Oliver that her actions were not apart from, but because of, the pain she was harboring---not unlike his own---poured into the letters addressed to him. Gutted by her tears, Oliver proactively reached out for Shane and pulled her in, circumventing her spiral and perhaps even fighting for their relationship.
Shane and Oliver both acquired significant tools to build and defend their bond during the previous season, but, when exercised in the DLO, were applied in the wrong context. It caused the pair to come into conflict with one another instead of be reconciled. But stripped to their cores, and emptied of all pretense, God was ready to step in and remove the obstacle holding them back, reconnecting them at their core in a way they could see and experience as He prepared to bring them into the “Promised Land.”
We can know He was present because of the shift in the tone and energy of the couple’s interaction when comparing before and after the kiss.
At the core of Shane and Oliver’s passionate near-argument is the pain and exhaustion incurred as a result of the breakdown their faulty faith formulas. Oliver acted in the manner he did in his attempt to keep his hope for Shane alive and vice versa. Since they placed each other at the center of those formulas, in a sense, the formula failure caused them to come in conflict with one another, making their reunion a painful and turbulent one. At the same time, however, working through it ultimately revealed they shared the same pain, which God was ready and waiting to eradicate.
Reaching out in faith, Oliver took hold of Shane and pulled her into the kiss, which in turn led her to let go of the “sight” she was still holding onto through those letters, and latch onto faith, too. Since God operates in the “unseen” realm encompassed by that kiss---and the faith contained in it---the action brought them back into the presence of God and His Perfect Love which “cast out all that pain, and all that fear” they were expressing moments before and “replace[d] it with hope.” With each kiss---one for each month they were separated---He unburdened them of their corrupted formulas. More importantly, He restored their faith to its original, perfect state and connected it to Himself, a connection neither of their faulty formulas ever established.
With their faith firmly re-established, God could transition Shane and Oliver from the pain to the promise.
Another amazing reality of God’s Presence in their kiss was how He restored Shane and Oliver’s relational equilibrium back to what it was before the enemy set them off course, restoring their lost time. God was positioning them to experience a “completed first date,” and fulfill this promise to them. As He positioned them, we also got to see how each Shane and Oliver developed over the course of their separation, engaging with each other in news ways.
With their fear and pain removed, the couple was finally able to be completely open and honest with one another in a direct way. At Shane’s admission that she “thought of [him] every day,” Oliver reciprocated by producing the napkin she doodled on all those months ago from his inside pocket. Moved, and still teary-eyed, Shane placed it tenderly in his outside breast pocket, the content of his heart finally revealed. Their unfinished business settled, they were free to receive their blessing, beginning with a second chance at their reunion.
The moment Shane placed the napkin in his pocket, Oliver’s countenance changed. The way he invested himself in Shane’s well-being demonstrated leadership and tenderness he had yet to exercise before. He tried to remedy her loneliness by reconnecting her with things close to her heart, like Norman and Rita’s engagement and his father’s failed romantic entanglement. Shane’s declaration, “some people just don’t know what they have,” and Oliver reply, “that is true,” signaled their mutual recognition and acknowledgement of their own blessing in each other. With that recognition came the opportunity to explore that connection---and the new spiritual space in which it was operating---further.
“So what do we do now?”
It was a seamless transition into new territory. Shane invited Oliver to lead the exploration, and exercise vision to chart their course forward. His vision seemed to hint at engagement in the future, but, still putting her first in the present---a subtle, but important, shift in his behavior---Oliver “proposed” he make her a kombucha smoothie while she read her letters. He picked one thing that is tangible and surface (smoothie) and another thing of an “unseen” nature (the content of her heart) a perfect balance in and of itself. Correcting his mispronunciation of “kombucha” himself, Oliver also demonstrated a teachable spirit. By suggesting Shane read her letters, he committed to learning the content of her heart.
Testing the boundaries almost immediately, a clearly confident Shane suggested, “That could take all night.” Un-phased---and not missing a beat---Oliver confidently responded, “Good.” The energy between them took a new turn as they proceeded to finally complete their first date.
When God established Shane and Oliver's relationship, He did so with the intention of not only being the author of it, but the completer of it. Throughout Shane and Oliver's individual faith journeys in Higher Ground, God remained faithful to see the faith in the bond between Shane and Oliver He established and created be restored when the enemy set them off course.
At the same time, He grew Shane and Oliver in love and individual depth so that they might come together---and into His Presence---more whole. But perhaps above all, He created a restore point for the couple with a direct line to him, the author of their bond, to be revisited whenever the enemy might scheme to tear them apart.
The enemy may be at the gate, but God is the only one with the key. When we come into alignment with Him, we can boldly and confidently enter every space, and like Shane and Oliver, step into our Promise.
From Inside The Gate,
P.S. The series may be over, but that doesn't mean we're done. Next week: the "Gate" gets "Unlocked."