Personal responsibility offers us a path to redemption.
Thor offers us a fabulous example of the path to redemption. His is a story of personal responsibility and repentance that leads to redemption. By taking personal responsibility, Thor matures and reclaims of his own strength, power and wisdom. This story continues to deepen, like peeling layers of onion, in each film as Thor continues to mature, transform, and embody his power and authority fully.
Thor: Confronted with Personal Responsibility:
In the first Thor movie, we meet Thor as an arrogant young man who thinks he knows all. He disobeys his father, King Odin, misjudges his power, and has to be saved by Odin. Odin then strips Thor of his power and banishes him to Earth because his actions. On Earth he continues his arrogant ways. It is Jane, an astrophysicist who takes him in and confronts him, who unknowingly guides him to the path of redemption.
It is not until he comes face to face with the true loss of his power that he is confronted with personal responsibility. He learns that his hammer, Mjölnir, (the source of his power) has landed close by. He fights his way through S.H.I.E.L.D. (FBI-like superhero organization here on Earth) to his hammer, but can not lift it. He is no longer worthy to wield its power. Thor kneels in defeat and despair. It is palpable. This experience of unworthiness cracks open his arrogant (hardened) heart so that he feels what he has done.
Feeling into Personal Responsibility
Feeling begins the process of personal responsibility. That is the moment when Thor has to accept responsibility for his own actions.
The next scene we see Thor with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Colson. He is being questioned. Thor does not speak. You can see and feel his despair, his inner struggle, his beginning to acknowledge his responsibility as a leader, as a future king.
Then Loki (Thor’s adopted brother and trickster) arrives and convinces Thor Odin has died because of his actions. Thor is now exiled forever. As a tear forms in Thor’s eyes, he states his sorrow, his acceptance of personal responsibility. He says to Loki, “No. It is my fault. I am sorry…” Thor steps fully onto his path to redemption. He takes responsibility for what he has done. “I had it all backward. I had it all wrong.”
Repentance: the Second Movement Toward Redemption
These moments lead Thor from personal responsibility into Repentance, the second movement toward redemption. This is not an “I’m sorry” and continue doing what you were doing apology thing. Repentance, as described within our sacred texts, requires a complete turn around. It is an acknowledgement of our non-alignment with Spirit (our wrong-doing) and a turning fully back toward Spirit. It is an “I’m sorry for my actions” followed by a change in our behavior/actions to undo/heal the harm we have done.
The second part of repentance is extremely important. If we only say 'I’m sorry' without changing our actions we are not truly authentically sorry. Repentance is a spiritual journey toward aligning our hearts, souls and action fully with the Sacred. It requires that we do the challenging work of healing ourselves, changing our behavior, and transforming challenging situations to hope, love, and mercy.
Thor begins his walk of repentance, atoning for his wrong-doings, as he changes his behavior toward Jane and her team of scientists. He begins to shift from arrogance to humility, from hero who fights for recognition to hero who save and protects. He begins to understand what a servant-leadership truly is.
The next morning, Thor serves breakfast to Jane’s team. He is listening to Jane, caring about her, helping her understand that she is right about her research. He opens his heart and begins to Love.
From Repentance to Redemption
When Loki decides to make sure that Thor can not return to Asgard by sending the Destroyer to kill him, Thor steps fully into redemption. Having done the work of atonement for his actions, his heart has opened. He truly cares about the lives of those around him.
Thor knows as a mortal he can not fight the destroyer. He can get the people of the town to safety, while his Asgardian friends fight the Destoyer. When his friend’s lives are in danger, Thor steps in to protect even them. He choses to sacrifice himself for the safety of everyone. Thor walks, unprotected, fully vulnerable toward the Destoyer speaking to Loki (who is listening from Asgard): “Brother, whatever I have done to wrong you, whatever I have done to lead you to do this, I am truly sorry. These people are innocent. Taking their lives will gain you nothing. Take mine and end this.”
Personal responsibility, followed by repentance and atonement, leads to redemption. As Thor sacrifices himself for everyone he becomes worthy once again of his hammer and his immortality. He now understands what it means to be a King — to lead and protect his people. He regains his power and strength because he takes responsibility for his actions.
It takes tremendous courage and vulnerability to acknowledge our wrong-doings, to acknowledge how our life choices affect others True authentic repentance is one of the most courageous, transformative and healing actions we can take and give. In doing so, we learn that our strength is found in our willingness to be vulnerable and compassionate. Respect is earned through authentic compassionate action. And all of it begins the moment we chose personal responsibility!
It is not an easy path. To step onto the path of personal responsibility and redemption we must be willing to open our hearts and feel. Feel everything: woundedness, hurt (of others as well as ourselves), despair, anger, love, mercy, compassion, hope. Through feeling we will begin to feel a path towards redemption that leads to the experience of Spirit’s Realm of Compassion here on Earth.
Are you willing to feel? To truly open your heart, be vulnerable, and feel onto the path of redemption?
There is deep treasure found there…
(As a spiritual director, I work help people step onto the path of personal responsibility to redemption by guiding you into conversation with your innermost being with Spirit. I do this in person, as well as distance through Zoom. Contact me if you would like support as you seek to be a Light Bearer in this challenging time.