Just today, my wife and I were talking about our almost 21 year marriage, and the reasons for its success and longevity (especially in our disposable culture). Without thinking, Amy immediately said “It’s because we really trust each other.” I smiled, because “trust” was the exact word I was thinking of. The fact is that Amy and I do not hide anything from each other.
But this wasn’t always the case. When I was in my twenties, I was not a trustworthy person at all. I was not a person who could be counted on, and believe me, that is a lonely place to be. But over the last two decades, my wife and I have become extremely close because we share everything each other. I have learned how important this is to lasting relationships. This January will be our 21st anniversary, and just like every year of the last decade, we are closer now than we were when we celebrated our last anniversary. Unlike many married people I know, I wake up every day and think about how lucky I am to be in the marriage that I am in. It hasn’t always been easy, but the journey has definitely been worth it, and I am definitely an evangelist for trustworthiness and commitment in a culture that largely accepts lies and abandonment. The establishing of trust is an essential component for the success of work, family and all interpersonal relationships.
Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead was all about how people trust (or don’t trust) each other in the zombie apocalypse, and this is probably why I liked it.
Now, I realize that I am in the minority. Many people on the Internet don’t like the episode at all. Perhaps they just don’t like having to wait another week to find out what is happening with Daryl, Rick, Michonne, Carol, Carl, Jesus etc. (sorry if I missed your favorite character). Or maybe they don’t want to be interrupted by having to see an episode all about a character we haven’t seen in 8 episodes meeting a group that we have never seen before. Let’s face it, there are a lot of story lines running simultaneously this season. But I also heard that people didn’t like the pacing or even the acting. Jonathan told me that this was his least favorite episode of the entire show. His Tweet says it all.
I understand his point of view and agree that it was flawed in many ways. But I still loved the main idea of the episode.
Back in season five, Glenn told Tara the first rule of scavenging. He said, “there’s nothing left in this world that’s not hidden.” At the beginning of tonight’s episode, Tara shares this wisdom to Heath, unaware that the author of the quote is dead. But the torch has clearly been passed, and the idea has never been more true. Enough time has gone by in the zombie apocalypse that nothing of value is left in the open. But now we are seeing that food, medicine, guns and ammunition are not the only things that are hidden – people are too.
The episode begins when an unconscious Tara is discovered on the beach by two residents of the all-female and hidden community, Oceanside. Tara’s life is spared by the spear-wielding teen, Cyndie, who later sneaks food, water and a chisel-tipped spear to her. We later find out that Tara fell off of a bridge in a crazy battle with sand-covered walkers and was washed up onto a remote beach. Ultimately, she finds herself captured by an all female community that exists because their men were killed off by Negan. The women of Oceanside have decided the safest thing to do is protect themselves by killing any strangers that happen to discover their location. They are motivated by fear, and feel like they just can’t trust anyone.
But Tara is able to charm them enough to keep them from killing her for the moment. They seem to like her, and let’s face it, Tara is a very funny person. So they try to recruit her to stay. But she has other plans and escapes an execution attempt. Ultimately, Cyndie catches up with her and helps her once again. But she needs Tara to do one thing – keep Oceanside a secret.
Cyndie: You have to swear that you’ll never come back and you’ll never tell anyone about us, not even your own people.
Tara: Why would I come back? Why would I tell anyone about this place?
Cyndie: Because maybe you could get something out of it. Anything. Why did we kill those two people who just came near us? Why did you kill all those people at that satellite station? Because you all thought you had to.
Tara: But none of you had to. You just did.
Cyndie: Nobody’s evil. They just decide to forget who they are. You have to swear.
Tara: Some people are evil, Cyndie. I’ve seen it. That’s why I have to get back now.
Cyndie: You have to swear.
Tara: [Sighs] I swear.
Tara swears to Cyndie that she won’t tell anyone about Oceanside, and at the end of the episode we see her actually keep her secret. Rosita is desperate for guns and ammunition to avenge the death of Abraham, but when she asks Tara if she has seen any, Tara keeps Oceanside secret. She made a promise to someone that she just met, but she honors that promise, even though information she has could really help Alexandria in their current predicament.
Perhaps Tara just likes the idea that there is a safe place for women Negan doesn’t know about. Perhaps she was moved by Cyndie’s great compassion and sacrifice (she did empty a precious ammo clip allowing her to cross the bridge). Or maybe she is just a woman of integrity. But any way you look at it, Tara acts honorably and shows herself to be trustworthy in a way that may never be noticed or appreciated. That is something that has become very rare in our culture.
When I think about this, I am reminded of the ultimate model of trust in our lives. While it is true that there are many people in my life who have demonstrated trustworthiness, there are none as consistent or perfect as our God. Nothing brings me more peace than knowing we have a God we can trust.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes toward the end of the book of Joshua. Joshua, the successor to Moses and the leader of Israel, is an old man who knows his time on earth is almost over. So he gathers the elders, judges, leaders and officers of Israel together and gives them some final instructions. My favorite part comes in chapter 23 verse 14. Here he says, “Soon I will die, going the way of everything on earth. Deep in your hearts you know that every promise of the Lord your God has come true. Not a single one has failed! (Joshua 23:14 NLT)
Joshua’s last reminder to the nation of Israel is to remember one of the most important things that there is to remember – that God is, has been, and always will be true to His word – He is completely trustworthy. God keeps His promises and we can always rely on that. That means that we can trust that He is there with us when things go horribly wrong. That means that we can trust that His scriptures are real and true. That also means that we can trust that no matter how hard times are, the end of the story for those who follow Him is a story of victory and joy! And I don’t know about you, but this gives my life more meaning than anything else. God has plans for us, and we can trust them because they are good.
SEASON 7, EPISODE 6 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
1) When Cyndie doesn’t kill Tara on the beach she is breaking the number one rule of Oceanside. Why do you think she does this?
2) Do you think that their rule is a good rule? Why or why not?
3) Why do you think that Tara doesn’t kill any of the Oceanside women when she has the chance? Do you think it was a mistake?
4) Should Tara have sworn to Cyndie that she would keep Oceanside a secret?
5) What do you think would have happened if Tara didn’t swear this to her?
6) Why do you think that she keeps the secret when Rosita asks her if she saw any weapons out there?
7) Have you ever made a promise to someone that you didn’t intend to keep? If so, what happened?
8) How does being a trustworthy person impact our relationships?
9) Is being trustworthy absolutely essential to having good relationships? Why or why not?
10) What does it mean to you that God is absolutely trustworthy, even if you might have to be a little patient to see the results of His promises?
Thom McKee Jr. is a husband, father, pastor… and film geek (and brother of Jonathan McKee). Thom lives in Northern California with his wife and two kids.