Gifts of Divergency


By our Cinema contributor, Lindsay Smetanka

In the Divergent series, Tris Prior doesn't fit into any one of the five factions of her post-apocalyptic society. The five factions are Abnegation (for the selfless), Amity (for the peaceful), Candor (for the honest), Dauntless (for the brave), and Erudite (for the intellectual). Every person in Tris's universe must take an aptitude test to determine which faction he or she will be most useful in; however, as we are quick to find out, Tris is Divergent. She tests positive for the Abnegation, Dauntless, and Erudite faction. She has to choose which faction she wants to join without disclosing her identity as Divergent, but Tris will never feel complete or satisfied in whichever faction she chooses.

According to her aptitude test, her identity will always pull her heart in three different directions. Although Tris's measure of happiness is never analyzed throughout the books or movies, we recognize that she is never pleased with herself. She can't forgive herself for her identity as Divergent, making her less "normal" than her single minded peers. Even though Tris is extremely talented and gifted, she hates herself for being herself. Her multi-layered aptitude is outside of her control. She was born Divergent. She doesn't fit into one of the five factions and therefore, she lacks purpose in the perfect society.

How often do we feel as though we don't measure up to the others around us? "I'm not like them. Nobody knows what it's like." Que the teen angst '90s hit single 'What It's Like' by EverLast. To combat the pressure to fit in, as women, we often put ourselves into boxes of definition: the pretty one, the smart one, the athletic one, the nice one. We pretend to be the women who we think that we are supposed to be.

But as we place God outside of the creation and growth process, we let our society and popular culture mold our minds into thinking that we are supposed to look, act, and be a certain way. It's easier this way. It's easier to pretend to fit into one of these superficial boxes or factions to fill our need for acceptance in this world. We yearn to be a part of something greater than ourselves, but God has called us for even greater than this. He calls us to be much greater than this world. It's much harder to discern His plans for our lives rather than us trying to determine what we think is best for ourselves, but it's worth it. We are reminded in Romans 12: 1-8 of our true identity as Christians.

"I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness."

Wow! We can sum up Tris's universe in one quote! The aptitude test in the post apocalyptic society is the "testing" to determine "what is good and acceptable and perfect." The "functions" are synonymous with the five factions in Tris's society. This sounds like the ideal universe. Everyone should live for the "bigger picture" or "greater good." In service to their neighbor, everyone should live according to their "assignment." Oh, if only it was that simple!

As we know, God gave us free will and as a result, we fail Him everyday. We sin. We live in an imperfect world and thus, we cannot conform to perfection. This may seem obvious, but we often forget that we cannot be perfect. As failed creation, we aren't meant to keep to a single box or "faction." Just like Tris, we are the exception to the rule. This inability to conform to our "ideal" worldly identity is why we struggle with self acceptance. We may forgive others for their faults, but do we forgive ourselves? Do we accept our own sin?

After we accept our sin, we can find hope in our faith. In our imperfection, there is oneness with God. It's not as easy as taking an aptitude test to determine our identity, but His idea of "good and acceptable and perfect" is revealed to us through discernment and prayer. Through the "renewal of our minds," we see the goodness in our imperfection. We weren't meant for this world's boxes and factions. We were meant to reflect His identity. Just like Tris, we will never be truly, happily satisfied unless we find refuge in Him, His plan, and His Love.