Scales of Privilege

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carrie kuba -scales of privilege-3By Carrie Kuba | Twitter: @bellinka09

[Spoken by Eustace, a boy, to his friend, Edmund]

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke —‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

***

If you’ve grown up in the church like I have, there’s a fairly good chance this passage from The Chronicles of Narnia has been inserted into a sermon or two. Often, the sermon centers around this idea of transformation—the shedding of one’s old self and its sins and the rebirth of one’s true self breaking through. Or perhaps, as a reader and a lover of story, the text has come to you in that venue.

Admittedly, growing up reading this passage and hearing sermons about it, I often focused on Eustace’s outward transformation. As Aslan peels off those dastardly, stubborn dragon scales, Eustace is no longer a dragon. He becomes a boy again. The idea was then planted within me that in order to experience true transformation, one becomes something else entirely.

For me, the idea of being “born again” was synonymous with becoming something else entirely–out with the old, in with the new.

The old did not have worth or value, the new was where it was at.

Yet Eustace started out as a boy, did he not? And underneath those laborious and heavy scales, he was still a boy. He needed Aslan to not only help him remove those scales,
but to also remind him
who
he
was.

I wonder if perhaps somehow I got lost along the way when seeking transformation in my own life.

Had I allowed someone else to define what transformation should look like?
Did I perhaps project an unattainable goal for myself in its pursuit, believing the lie that I will have arrived once I become like someone else?
Did I deny who I am created to be in order to become that which I believe wins the approval of
another or others?

When Eustace’s scales are completely and permanently removed, he is raw and vulnerable and most likely extremely uncomfortable and nervous about how to exist in this newly exposed skin. And perhaps that in and of itself is the indicator of what transformation looks like.

Eustace did not transform into some sort of ethereal being, some angelic waif, after Aslan removed his scales. He also did not become something completely different, nor did he evolve in any way shape or form. In fact, upon the removal of his scales, he returned to his original state of being—a boy.

I believe God gives us a unique DNA on purpose. We will live out our purpose by understanding who we are as we simultaneously come to know who God is. There’s a relational tandem there that cultivates and ages like a fine bottle of wine over time.

I believe each of us has been given a divine appointment.

Each of us is called to bear witness to the transformation that has occurred in our lives, weaving it into the fabric of our story as an offering to our community and nurturing it so that it will bear fruit. Perhaps, like Eustace, it is one major event of descaling that changed the trajectory of our life. For many, it can be a repetitive descaling, perhaps even a routine one that is needed, in order to come back to that centre—each time one step closer to living out the DNA of purpose we have been given.

As the one experiencing it, the process can be unique. The tools we have access to, such as the Enneagram or Myers-Briggs, help us see and understand tendencies within us that add another row of privileged dragon scales, as well as those that honor who we are as creations of the Divine. These revelations are not self-indulgent. In fact, it takes courage and humility to shine a light into dark and muddled areas within us to find forgiveness, redemption, and wholeness.

I am one who never had that one moment of transformation in my life. I have had a series of them over the years.

About two years ago, I joined a group called Be the Bridge to Racial Unity. I joined this group believing wholeheartedly that I had a lot to offer with twenty years of experience. About six months into the group, I began to develop the posture of a learner and started to see dragon scales of privilege and bias in my own life.

I had been praying God would give me the eyes to see those places that were detrimental to myself, my daughter of color, the community I engage with on a daily basis, and by extension, my global citizenship. I experienced true lament for the firat time—this deep, deep sense of grief regarding the ways I had been complicit in the pain, suffering, and inequality of others.

I needed God to painfully tug away the scales of privilege and expose the raw, vulnerable, regretful (but not hopeless) truth in my own life. Never in this process did I lose my identity, nor did I have to let go of the divine parts of me that seek out conciliation that are a part of the DNA in me.

I did, however, need to have the scales of privilege removed that came from a place of pride.

When the dragon scales come off, we benefit, and our spheres of influence benefit. The ripple from the drop of holy and just water expands exponentially. Eustace’s transformation from a dragon to a boy became

his story,
his song,
his dance,
his poem,
his painting,
his contribution to the world in order to bring about

beauty, truth, justice, and love.

—————————————————————

About Carrie:

CarrieKubaI am a writer, a mother of a medically fragile kiddo and a Habesha, a wife to a Czech Renaissance man, an activist, a friend.
I am on a journey to live authentically.
You can find a piece of my heart at www.raindropsandrivers.com

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Comments

  1. Colletta Rhoads says:

    Wow and Thank You! What a beautiful way to welcome us into the topic of privilege! This is so great on so many levels. I’m sharing it with everyone. Thank your for choosing to be a learner and a healer in racial reconciliation. Much love and excited for your voice.

  2. Paul Kushnerov says:

    “Scales of privilege”. Wow. Being transformed into who we once were is a painful process, as Eustace indicates, but the “pleasure of feeling the stuff come off” is truly magnificent. In my life, a significant moment happened when I came out. I had added scales of what society expects, what the church expects, what my family expects. I have always been the way I am, my DNA is unchanged. It is with the beginning of the de-scaling that one begins to see how many layers need to be peeled off. The freedom felt when lifted of the heavy burden of weighty scales is freeing in a way one can only feel and struggle to describe. Like you’ve noted about Eustace so eloquently, I felt “raw and vulnerable and…extremely uncomfortable and nervous about how to exist in this newly exposed skin”. Regarding scales of privilege, we must pray to become like Paul (Acts 9:18): “something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight”. This is a beautiful article. Thank you.

  3. Robyn Rapske says:

    Beautifully written

  4. Kathleen Bertrand says:

    Ooooo, Carrie this is GOOD!!

  5. This is such a powerful metaphor, but I LOVE the reminder that we are who we are, even underneath the scales. We are not changed into someone else. We become who we were always meant to be. Lord, de-scale me.

  6. Stephanie Reeves says:

    Yes. Restored AND transformed by knowing who you are in Christ and having His image in you. Eustace was definitely different on the inside, while still being what he was all along. Thank you for your insight.

  7. sandyhay says:

    Excellent Carrie. Transformation, like purpose, has been butchered from the pulpit. So many women,especially, are floundering to be someone that God did not design them to be. LOTS to ponder here. Thank you my Portland friend 🙂

  8. Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite of the Chronicles of Narnia because of the un-dragoning of Eustace. Your words today give me great reason to rejoice in God’s ability to restore and to transform, all the while honoring the integrity of each of His one-of-a-kind creations.

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