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I found myself falling for Game of Thrones right from the start. And “falling” really is the appropriate word, because my addiction began right when Bran was thrown out of the window by all-world dirtbag Jaime Lannister, who in that moment instituted himself as the central foe in the television series. Or so I thought.
Part of the beauty of Game of Thrones is that almost nothing is as it initially seems. By the time Brandon hit the ground, I had Jaime pegged as an antagonist because by that point he’d already established himself as a (literal) backstabber, regicide, incestuous adulterer, and as far as I knew, a child murderer. However, three seasons later I was openly rooting for Jaime. He became a redemption project, proof that there’s hope for even those who do the vilest deeds.
Still, it’s not roses and daises in Westeros for Jaime. He’s incurred so many debts due to his past treachery that it’s a wonder he’s still alive (especially without the protection of his fighting hand). More frustrating is that Jaime’s course through the show hasn’t been linear. It isn’t until after he starts down the road of repentance that he rapes his sister. It’s after he’s become a better man that he breathes murderous threats at Edmure Tully while declaring his love for Cersei. Just when you think he has it figured out, Jaime retreats back to being the villain he once was.
Watching Jaime transition from bad guy to good guy to bad guy again doesn’t just exasperate me—it makes me uncomfortable. Because in Jaime, I see more than a fictional character on screen and page. I see myself.
The road toward reclamation in my own life has been bumpy. Like Jaime, I know what’s right, but I don’t always choose that path. I illogically make decisions that I know are wrong, that I know will eventually lead me to troubles, but I still stumble down these trails.
What’s worse is that my deeds don’t occur in vacuum. The aberrant decisions I make injure others around me. Just as Jaime enabled Cersei, whose demented plans lead to many deaths, the things I do can cause distress to my friends, co-workers, and family.
But Jaime’s story isn’t finished yet and neither is my own.
Jaime’s actions, as wearisome as they sometimes may be, imitate reality. My life isn’t a straightaway road; there are curves and turns throughout. I try to do good, to follow what I believe in, to be a person of character, but I don’t always make the right choices. Although I’ve experience grace and lead a very different existence than I once did, there was never some grand climax after which I could do no wrong. In that way, I’m more Jaime Lannister than the Grinch Who Stole Christmas; instead of some clean ending, I instead find it a struggle to be a loving person at home and at work, with family and among friends. Although I often succeed, I also often fail.
But despite the false starts, shortcuts that really weren’t, and choices that were clearly wrong, there’s value in being on the trail in the first place. Just as fans forgive Jaime for his past transgressions, I have to remember that I’m forgiven as well and to let that encourage me as I hike along the way. Why bother trying to be a “good person” when it’s so difficult and I make so many mistakes along the way? If I believe I’m forgiven anyway, what does it matter? It matters because my behaviour affects others and not just me. It matters because I don’t deserve to be forgiven and I want to do my best to say thank you.
As often as he regresses, I am encouraged by Jaime. He and his family live by an unofficial motto: “A Lannister always pays his debts.” Some days, those debts come calling, and some days, I may fall back into the vileness of being a Lannister, but I can’t forget how great it is to be on the right path at all and to know that the longer I’m on it, even with missteps, the closer I’ll get to my destination and to who it is I want to be.
He can also be found, however, feeding his other nerd habits, including A Song of Ice and Fire. Charles also remains hopelessly stuck in the 90's, maybe best demonstrated by his unexplainable passion for The Phantom Menace.
A historian and director at a government agency by day, Charles joins in the work of college and digital ministry is his off-time, while growing each day in the round-the-clock charge of being a husband and father.
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