I rarely get excited about TV, but WandaVision’s got me feeling like a 90s kid waiting for TGIF to begin. The new Disney+ series just might be the best slice of the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet: relatable heroes, a who’s-the-real-villain-here storyline, and cliffhangers that leave you shouting at the TV (that’s not just me, right)? But even more enthralling than all that, WandaVision is pumping out some serious spiritual truth. In fact, it just might hold the key to your next spiritual breakthrough.
If you haven’t watched it yet, I promise not to reveal any spoilers not readily available in trailers for the series. We are going to briefly touch on events from Avengers: Infinity War—but that movie came out like five years ago. If you haven’t seen it yet, that’s kind of on you.
Here’s a catch-up for the less nerdy among us: Vision is an android superhero. He’s in love with a human superhero, Wanda. Bad news: Vision gets killed—twice, I might add—near the end of Infinity War. Wanda is left heartbroken, while the rest of the Avengers worry about how to handle big baddie Thanos.
Jump to 2021, and Disney drops WandaVision in our lap. The series, in which each episode spoofs generation-defining TV sitcoms from Bewitched to The Brady Bunch to Modern Family, is set in the picture-perfect suburb of West View, New Jersey. Vision and Wanda are living cookie-cutter TV lives, full of stress-less conflict and easy laughs. But as the series continues to progress, that happy-go-lucky reality begins to unravel, leaving the viewer to piece together exactly what’s happening. The only thing we know for certain: the lives in WandaVision are a fantasy.
People on the outside, investigating what’s happening in West View, refer to the altered reality as “the Hex.” Whether it’s Wanda creating the Hex (to live the life with Vision that was taken from her), or someone more sinister, is one of the biggest questions in the series. But things are definitely not what they seem—and the charade isn’t going to last much longer.
That’s where the spiritual allusions begin. You see, Jesus isn’t much into charades either. Relationship with Him can’t be sustained on forced smiles and easy emotions. More than anything else, I think He wants us to be honest—with ourselves, but even more so, with Him.
Hiding will always stunt your spiritual growth, whether it’s a secret habit, an emotion you don’t want to feel, or questions you’re too scared to ask. Pushing those things down, out of the light and back into the dark in the back of your mind, only allows them to grow. It builds a wall between you and God. And since He’s all-knowing, the only person we end up fooling is ourselves.
Spiritual growth is difficult, because spiritual growth requires honesty. Jesus Himself said that only one thing would set us free: the truth (John 8:32). He was, of course, referencing Himself in that scripture, but the point extrapolates out. Anything we hide becomes a shackle. The longer we hide, the longer the chain grows.
One lie has consistently stunted my spiritual growth, and I’m willing to bet it might have influenced you as well: God expects more from me.
The foundation of that lie is a belief that God is disappointed with me. With my spiritual progress. With my emotions. With bad decisions I’ve made in the distant (and not-so-distant) past. With the doubts I try to bury or the questions I’m afraid to ask. He takes on the face of that teacher—you know the one—frustrated you didn’t learn this concept the first time through, and now you have the audacity to raise your hand and slow down the rest of class with your question. Basically Snape, without the later redemption arc.
That belief that God wishes I was farther along causes me to be dishonest with Him. I replace frustration with a painted-on smile—joy in all things, right? Half-hearted optimism covers sadness or disappointment. Questions get shoved aside in the name of “blind faith,” and prayers become ceremonial instead of conversational. Without honestly, faith quickly descends into a set of rote actions.
I believe that breaks God’s heart, but we don’t have to stay in that place. Relearning bold honesty with God can change everything.
There’s a world of difference between expectation and desire. Expectation is rooted in stress, leads to guilt, and results in hiding. Desire, on the other hand, is rooted in love, leads to second chances, and results in growth.
What if God doesn’t expect more from me but instead wants more for me? It sounds subtle, but the difference there is monumental.
You see, the things God wants for me are pretty fantastic. A steady increase of godly characteristics that are in dangerously short supply in our world—things like love, joy, peace, patience, and kindness (Galatians 5:22-23). He wants my life to be consistently reshaped to look more and more like the life of His son (Romans 8:29). He wants me to not only have life, but have it abundantly—flowing over, an adventure that not only changes me but the world around me as well (John 10:10).
Dishonesty with God is born from believing the lie of God’s expectations. If I ask the question, will He snap at (or worse, yet, ignore) me? If I share the emotion, will He be disappointed? If I confess the action, will He punish me?
To answer those questions, we look to the life of Jesus. There, we find a Messiah who was gentle and kind, patient and loving to everyone who came to Him honestly. Jesus wasn’t put off by grief and loss (John 11:17-37). He wasn’t stunned by unbelief or doubt (Mark 9:14-29). He wasn’t frustrated by questions, even from His closest friends and followers (Matthew 11:1-3; Luke 8:9). He stood beside the vilified (John 8:2-12) and the second-class (John 4:1-26). He touched the untouchable (Mark 1:40-45), loved the unlovable (Matthew 26:6-13), and forgave the unforgivable (Luke 23:32-43).
In fact, the only people that Jesus consistently ran into conflict with were the Pharisees. Why? Because they were dishonest with Him. Despite his promptings, these religious leaders, high on the public acclaim garnered from their position, hid behind masks of piety and religiosity. But what lay beneath was dead, dark, and rotting.
My wise friend Courtney says, “Jesus only deals in reality.” Meaning, He’s always ready to engage with honesty. He’s not put off by where you are right now. He’s not disgusted by you. He’s not waiting for you to show your face so He can punish you. He’s not at the end of His rope with your weak prayers, consistent questions, or lack of progress. He wants to engage you and your current reality because He wants more for you.
Yes, admitting to the truth can hurt. But you can trust, when you submit that truth to Jesus, it will also heal.
Feeling stuck? Forgotten? Stagnant? Be honest with God.
Mad about a diagnosis? Scared about the future? Still mourning a loss it seems everyone else has moved on from? Mourn with God.
Had a great day? Finally found a meaningful relationship? Conquered a goal or paid down some debt? Celebrate with God.
Jesus wants you. Not the sanitized you. Not the perfected you. Not you 2.0 with less bugs. Not the look-no-baggage-to-see-here you. Not the social medial filtered, bought-a-ring-light-during-quarantine you. Just you. The 100% unfiltered, full strength, barrel-proof you. Warts, dents, mistakes, and all.
Brutal honesty with God is the key to unlocking spiritual growth in your life. How do I know that? I’ve seen it in my own life. After experiencing tragedy, I finally got real with God about how I was feeling. I yelled at Him. I asked questions. I probably (OK, definitely) cursed. Those six months, I grew more in faith than I’d ever grown before. The engine driving it was honesty.
We see the same thing from David, Israel’s most righteous king in the Old Testament. More than anyone else in the scriptures, he laid out his feelings to God. He filled the book of Psalms with poetry and songs overflowing with awe and laments, questions and reverence, anger, confusion, and disappointment. How did God respond? He called him “a man after His own heart.”
If my friend Courtney is right, then the best move for us to meet God is by engaging with our reality. Step outside whatever Hex you’ve built—the one that says you have to perform for God to love you or that He’s disgusted by your emotions or past. Dare to be honest, brutally so, and you will grow.
All relationships thrive on honesty—the one with your (probably dead) Android superhero husband—but especially the one with God.