Faith & Fandom
Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol 2: We're Family
I really enjoyed Guardians Vol 2. I think it was about as solid as a sequel as you could hope to a Marvel movie no one ever expected to enjoy. The thing I took away most from the movie was the overarching theme of family. The concept of family is woven in intricately throughout the heavily sound-tracked silliness and action. It effectively defined what family is, what family isn’t, and what happens when we fail at it.
We are built for community. We are built for family, and when we lack the family we are built for, it leaves a void. That void can cause major damage in our relationships and life in general. Nebula's rage-filled antics were her ill-conceived response to the lack of her family, even though her family was physically present.
Nebula: I DON'T NEED YOU ALWAYS TRYING TO BEAT ME!
Gamora: I'm not the one who just flew across the universe just because I wanted to win.
Nebula: DO NOT TELL ME WHAT I WANT!
Gamora: I don't need to tell you what you want! It's obvious!
Nebula: You're the one who wanted to win, and I just wanted a sister! You were all I had. But you are the one who needed to win."
We need our family. Not just proximity, but to actually have them engage with us. Nebula and Gamora went through a horrible ordeal, and Nebula just wanted her sister to be there for her. She wanted her to make her feel like she wasn't completely alone and still had some semblance of value. We, like Gamora, can get so caught up in our own desires and ambitions that we are unable to see the void we are leaving in those who need us the most.
Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, was greatly affected by the void of his parents. The void of seeing his mother die such a painful death and the absence of not knowing his father shaped a lot of his personality. He wasn't alone either, but the void remained. He grew up at arm's length of violent criminals that numbed the void when they really could have filled it. He thought the people around him only wanted him around because, as Peter recounted, "I was a skinny little kid who could slip into places adults couldn’t; made it easier for thieving." He also told Gamora, "As a kid, I used to see all the other kids off playing catch with their dad. And I wanted that, more than anything in the world!" His Guardians team began to fill that void, but he was so hung up on what he had missed that he was quick to let it go as soon as his father made an appearance.
Quill: I finally found my family! Don't you understand that?!
Gamora: I thought you already had.
The void of family can cause us to miss out on what we already have.
That same void can also cause us to push against the healthy relationships that we develop, just like in the case of Rocket. Rocket was so afraid of losing family that he pushed everyone away from himself.
Yondu: Oh...you can fool yourself and everyone else, but you can't fool me. I know who you are.
Rocket: You don't know anything about me, loser! Yondu: I know everything about you. I know you play like you're the meanest and the hardest but actually you're the most scared of all.
Rocket: Shut up!
Yondu: I know you steal batteries you don't need and you push away anyone who's willing to put up with you ‘cause just a little bit of love reminds you of how big and empty that hole inside you actually is!"
Rocket had existed with that the void a lack of family created for so long, that he didn't want to let anyone actually get close enough to create another void.
I understand all of these things. I understand them well. Family is one of the things we need the most, but at the same time, it can be one of the most painful things we can experience. Family leaving us, rejecting us, ignoring us, or hurting us can cause more pain than never having them in the first place. But
we need them. Family is God's answer for the loneliness that cripples us.
"The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).
The first negative statement in the Bible is to say being alone is a party foul. God Himself says being alone isn't what He wants for us. So, His answer? He began the framework for family. God not only gave Adam a spouse, but He gave Eve a husband. He gave their future children parents.
Family is important. It doesn't complete us, but it can give us people to walk beside us, laugh with us, cry with us, love us, and support us when we fall. The void without family can be
crippling. We need to choose family. We are built for family, so when we neglect family we are not only neglecting others, but we are neglecting who we are meant to be.
Since we recognize family is important, here's one thing to remember: don’t abuse the family you have. I know there are times I've let my family down and my family has let me down. Sometimes the offenses have been intentional, others accidental, but how we treat our family reflects who we truly are in our identities and in our faith.
"But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers." - 1 Timothy 5:8.
The Ravagers are a pretty dysfunctional family, but a family none the less. One of the repeating themes you see with the Ravagers is that when they turn on their own family, it brings destruction. When Yondu decided to take Ego's money and deal in kids, it got him kicked out of the major ravager faction, blacklisted, and isolated for the rest of his life. Even more evident is when Yondu’s number two, Kraglin, started a mutiny which lead to the short but chaotic reign of Taserface. Kraglin was hurt over the fact that Yondu continually showed favoritism to Star Lord, so in a moment when Yondu truly needed him to have his back, Kraglin turned on him. The result was Yondu being wounded, captured, and almost all of Kraglin's loyal crew being killed.
I'm not saying if you betray your family that they will get thrown out of an airlock, but it rarely does end well. Proverbs 11:29 says, ”Those who bring trouble on their families inherit the wind. The fool will be a servant to the wise." That scripture tells us when we betray, turn on, or abuse our families, we end up with nothing. We need to realize that these are the people who have chosen to walk through life with us, and it's not beneficial to throw that relationship away.
Neither Yondu or Kraglin anticipated the consequences of their abuse. I doubt they had any direct intention to rip their families apart, but that's where the weight of consequence falls. When you are part of a family, you have to seriously consider how your actions will affect the whole unit.
Sometimes it isn't even really a betrayal of family. Often, it's a matter of us not treating them as well as we should. Yondu spared Peter once he found out what Ego was up to, but over time Yondu truly grew to love him. Yet Yondu kept him at arm's length the entire time. He pushed, prodded, and kept Peter on edge to the point he never saw that he actually had a family. Peter just thought he was good for thieving, and that he was lucky Yondu kept him from being eaten. Scripture warns fathers about this process in Ephesians 6:4 when Paul writes, "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord." Scripture warns that we can make our children resent their parents, families, and everything they we for.
Yondu made Peter resent the ravagers enough that Peter cut himself off from them. This has been something that has concerned me my whole time as a parent. I've been in full time ministry throughout the extent I’ve had daughters. Earlier I was a missionary, but for the majority of my kids' lives, I've been a pastor. While I'm a professional Christian on the level of employment, I've always been afraid I would be a poor representation of Jesus at home with my kids when I'm my most real. I'm less worried about them being distant from me and more worried about my failures making them distant from God. If you are a parent, or are planning to become one, be careful that your actions don't drive your family apart, but instead bring them together with the discipline and guidance of God. We get it twisted sometimes thinking discipline only means punishment, but it's so much more. It's training more so than punishment. The root word is “disciple,” for crying out loud. Instead of pushing your children away, disciple them.
One of the lessons Guardians reiterates is that family is sacrifice. To be a part of a family means to put their needs above your own. This is illustrated so clearly in the end by the difference between Ego and Yondu. Ego was willing to turn Peter into a battery slave in order to get his own will and desires, but Yondu was willing to sacrifice his own life for Peter's sake. Ego may have been Peter's biological parent, but Yondu was the one who proved that he was actually family.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus." - Philippians 2: 3-5.
Showing that we care about others more than ourselves not only shows that we are family, but the type of believers Christ calls us to be. That is why Yondu was right when he told Peter, "He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn't your daddy." Prove that the people in your life are family by the way you put their needs as priorities in your life. That's what it really comes down to. It’s how you prove your love for those you call family. There are a lot of people that will come and go in our lives that claim to love us, but their actions don't prove it. That is evident in the relationship between Ego and his "River Lilly," Star-Lord's mom.
Ego: I didn't want to leave your mother, Peter - if I didn't return regularly to my planet and the light within it, this form will wither and perish!
Quill: So why didn't you come back?! Why did you send Yondu, a criminal of all people, to come and fetch me?!
Ego: I LOVED YOUR MOTHER, PETER! I COULDN'T STAND TO SET FOOT ON AN EARTH WHERE SHE WASN'T LIVING!!! YOU CAN'T IMAGINE WHAT THAT'S LIKE!!!
Quill: I KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE. I HAD TO WATCH HER DIE!"
Ego's actions, not to mention the whole putting a tumor in Meredith's head thing, proved that the love he proclaimed was not the truth. We take for granted that our families know we love them, and that they automatically are supposed to love us. It's important that we actually put actions to the love we are supposed to share.
"Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." - 1 John 3:18.
Holding a family together will take more than just assumed affection and the smooth talk of a poofy haired space cowboy. It takes real action to show that our love is indeed real. With dad's like Ego and Thanos, it's hard to really want to claim and show love to your family, and sometimes you won't even have that option. I encourage you with this: create your own family. Your biological family may be awesome, or they may be terrible. If you are a believer, you have responsibility to love and care for your family even if they aren't great, but that doesn't mean they have to be your only family. I've lost both of my parents, and I am distant from most of my other relatives. My aunt and nieces live across the street and they are the last close relatives I have that I’m involved with, even though I have several dozen other relatives within driving distance. It's not ugly or bitter; we just aren't close.
But I have people I call family. I have a small army of college kids who lived at my house at various points who are now adults, church members and people I serve with on a weekly basis, friends I've known since high school, and comicon friends. All of these people combined together form my family. People I know will be there for me, and people who know I will be there for them. That's what makes the Guardians strong. They aren't just random people assembled in space, they are family. Sometimes the family we choose will be the greatest family we know.
"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." - Proverbs 18:24.
The family we choose will still be made up of people who have problems.
Nebula: All any of you do is yell at each other. You're not friends.
Drax: You're right. We're family. We leave no one behind. Except maybe you."
Family is hard. It rarely goes smoothly. They let us down, break our hearts, and sometimes make us feel more alone. But family is worth it. These are people you know that will love you and stand by you, even when they mess it up. Learn from God. Learn from the Guardians. Love your family. Don't let there be a void. Don't abuse them. Don't push them away. Show them they are worth the sacrifice, and that they are truly loved. Strengthen the one you have, and don't be afraid to build a new one.
"I had a pretty cool dad. What I'm trying to say here is, sometimes that thing you are searching for your whole life is right there by your side all along, and you don't even know it." - Star-Lord.