In the 2023 series, Ahsoka, Star Wars fans are treated to a live-action return to the surprisingly impactful cartoon series of Star Wars Rebels and Clone Wars. Amid this new series, Ahsoka Tano finds herself struggling with a position modeled for her in a proper way and in a terrifying, poor way. She is positioned to lead and train up a Padawan. Her struggle is multi-faceted. On the one hand, her master, Anakin Skywalker, is the slaughterer of Order 66. He is the Dark Lord, Darth Vader. He murdered countless individuals with his hands and many more by his commands. He allowed his anger to control him and betrayed everything he claimed to love.
On the other hand, her master, Anakin Skywalker, was a fantastic mentor. During the Clone Wars, he genuinely cared for her; he stood in the gap for her. He ensured she was prepared for every situation, not just to complete a mission but to survive. In that era, there was no malice. He didn’t do this to manipulate her; he did it because he cared for her.
These two polar opposite expressions of her master have haunted her. In her mind, she struggled with questions like:
- Did his fall to the Dark Side negate everything he’d ever done?
- Does the fact that he fell mean that I will fall?
- At what point was his care for me really out of care, and at what point was it the darkness growing in him?
- Does embracing the things he taught me validate who he became?
These questions are not uncommon. In fact, many have asked these very things when their mentors or those who have greatly influenced them have seemingly “fallen.” Over the years, we’ve seen many great leaders who, in their time, people celebrated and honored, but sadly, they were found in a fallen state at some point. For some, the revelation of their fallen state isn’t discovered until after their death. When these things happen, people ask the same questions that Ahsoka asked herself.
So, how should we respond? For many, their response is an immediate purge and denial of the person. For some, there is a denial of the fact of wrongdoing. But neither is the proper response. When I look at the story of David, a man after God’s own heart, we see a fantastic man who honored the Lord and did extraordinary things. At the same time, we see a man who did horrific things. He convinced, possibly by use of his authority, a married woman to sleep with him. Then, to hide the sin, when her husband refused to come off the battlefield and spend the evening with his wife, David killed the man and took her as one of his.
Now, to David’s credit, after being confronted by the prophet, he repented and paid a hefty price for his sin. But still, some say, “Everything that David has ever done is now tainted and should be ignored.” But should it? Each action of a man’s life is judged on its own. Yes, the mountain of things undoubtedly frames a man’s character, but it doesn’t negate that good moments are good moments. Does one good deed mean a man should be treated as a saint? No. But that doesn’t mean we curse the good deeds. After all, in Isaiah, we see this phrase, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil…” (Isaiah 5:20)
So then, what should we do?
Ahsoka is a fantastic example of how we should respond to these things. She accepted that when her master was Anakin, he taught her amazing things and honestly cared for her. She should honor those teachings. Doing so doesn’t mean she will become evil herself, nor does it honor his identity as Darth Vader. At the same time, she recognized the darkness in Anakin and learned from his fall.
What I love about the Bible is that it doesn’t sugarcoat the story of God’s people. It documents their successes and their failures. This is not an accident, nor is it to shame them. These Biblical accounts are meant to be a teaching tool. God asks his people to examine their history. Celebrate the fantastic moments, but learn from the failures. Learn from the past, see the stumbling blocks, and remove them.
This is not an easy thing to do. In my own life, I’ve had mentors, leaders, and fathers fail me in monumental ways. There have been times when I’ve denied knowing some of them and attempted to avoid anything they may have deposited in me. But then there are days when I realize something. Not everything they spoke over me taught me, deposited in me, was evil and wrong. Much of it was life-giving and practical. I’ve had to learn to honor that which is good, recognize that which is evil and grow. It’s not easy. Emotions are a typhoon that can sink the greatest of us. But if we hold fast to the rutter of truth, we can healthily navigate storms.
You can do this.