In the series finale of the epic fantasy television series, Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister, a character who throughout the series has been known for his insights and cleverness, argues for why Brandon Stark, who is now also the Three-Eyed Raven, should become the next King of Westeros.
In a nutshell, Tyrion goes through all the many things that do NOT bring people together before pointing out the one thing that does–stories.
Tyrion goes on to say: “There is nothing more powerful than a good story…nothing can stop it.”
And Tyrion argues that this is why Bran should be king, because “he is our memory…the keeper of all our stories.”
Although many fans thought this was a somewhat lame reason for why Bran should be named king of the Seven Kingdoms (although it eventually became only Six Kingdoms as the North became its own kingdom again under Sansa Stark), Tyrion is absolutely correct about the power of stories.
For it is the stories we tell ourselves about who we are, who we have been, and who we are destined to become that have have the power to become unstoppable forces in our midst.
Because when we know who we are, we have clarity about the purpose and meaning of our lives.
And when we have that kind of clarity, there is the possibility for greatness.
“I thought I was wise but I wasn’t. I thought I knew what was right, but I didn’t.”
You might think that this is an odd quote to highlight when speaking about how Game of Thrones inspires greatness.
But you see, the key to greatness in the spiritual life is to understand what one is lacking first, so then you can turn to God and really trust Him to give you whatever graces you may need to achieve greatness in the spiritual life–a holy person. Otherwise known as a saint.
For it is only through littleness and humility that one can become a great saint, and similarly, Tyrion’s capacity for greatness was only made possible after he realizes his limitations.
For that deep desire in our hearts to see if it’s even possible for an “imp” to become the “Hand of the King,” is rooted in our own longing for greatness, and seeing Tyrion’s story encourages us to aspire for the same in our own lives.
Makes Us All Braver People
The characters within GOT also give us the courage to do what is right and good. They encourage and make us all a little braver.
“Even in modern times, humans still have a great need for myths, good stories, strong images and beautiful concepts. For belonging and transcendence.”
—Martin van Dooren
One of the most engrossing and addicting aspect of GOT is that everyone had a part to play in the game, and it was only when all the parts were seen as a whole, that we began to see the emerging beauty of watching it all come together.
Of watching how people who we did not seem to be important, suddenly were, or to see those who were important to suddenly no longer be part of the game. (Ned Stark anyone?)
But the best stories that give us courage and make us braver men and women are not just ones like GOT.
The best stories are the ones that are TRUE.
And there are countless stories of love and sacrifice and bravery and greatness all around us.
Of mothers going without food themselves so their children can eat.
Of fathers running into burning buildings to rescue a child.
Of people saving the lives of those involved in a car accident.
Of a woman who buys a bag of groceries for her elderly neighbor who is unable to afford it.
Of a neighbor who spends his only day off helping another neighbor fix his broken down car in 100 degree heat.
Of how a man takes the place of another man in a starvation bunker simply because the other man is a husband and father.
Or how about the man who sacrificed Himself out of love for billions of others who have never even met Him?
For what story is truer or more powerful than THE greatest story ever told?
Everyone Has A Part To Play
The unique and absolutely amazing fact about The Greatest Story is that ALL of us have a part to play in it.
No one is insignificant, and we are all interconnected in helping bring about the “happy ending”—when the true King will return and all will be made well again, and when pain, suffering and death will be no more.
This is the essence of the call to holiness, for it is through our efforts to cooperate with God’s grace to become saints, that we become the “characters” in the Great Story that we were created to be, and as our story is written, another chapter of THE Story is added to the Greatest Story of all time on the face of the Earth.
Because EVERYONE’S story, or more properly, everyone’s LIFE matters, for each of us has a “part to play” in THE great story.
Because the reality is that our story IS part of THE story, and that my story, your story, and the story of your brother, uncle, cousin, neighbor, handyman, grocery clerk, garbage collector, etc. is the vehicle that God wants to use to share Himself with others and that He created each of us specifically to do exactly that.
Echoes of The Story
Game of Thrones, like every great story, can help us clarify our purpose, inspire us to aspire to greatness, and can increase our resolve to bravely fight back–even in the midst of the darkness, despair and hopelessness that may surround us.
But why exactly has GOT captivated the hearts and minds of so many millions of people around the world?
Because the stories within Game of Thrones are echoes of THE Story.
Stories of purpose and meaning. Of loss and injustice. Of redemption and greatness. Of betrayal and bravery. Of death and tragedy. Of love and sacrifice.
But most of all, they are stories of how each one of us matters. That we each have an important role to play each and every day of our lives, even if we are not exactly sure what that may be.
But the reality is this.
Whatever that role is, each of us has our own opportunity to look into the face of the God of Death and choose how to respond.
For me, I know my response.
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