“While paradigms help us to get things done, they can also limit our vision and cause us to resist change. [Business writer Joel] Barker calls it a paradigm shift when these rules, patterns, or boundaries change…Once unleashed, a paradigm shift is difficult, if not impossible to stop–especially when God is behind it.”
-Russ Ewell, When God Isn’t Attractive
Like millions of other Americans, I recently watched the highly anticipated Black Panther. If you haven’t seen it yet, why are you even reading this article and not immediately driving to the nearest movie theater? Get with the times, man. As the third highest grossing Marvel movie, Black Panther is clearly making a splash in today’s world. Not only is this movie paving a path for Black Americans and women to become central, empowering contributors to film, it has also, in my opinion, created one of the best characters in cinematic history: Princess Shuri.
As the teenage sister of the movie’s hero, T’Challa, Shuri is the brains, technological expert, and often comic relief behind the making and running of their country Wakanda. She has developed ground-breaking medical treatments, designed entire cities, created weaponry unmatched by any other country, and is chock-full of Vine references. However, it is not her intellect nor her access to resources that make her so powerful, but rather her innovative mindset.
“Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t be improved.”
-Shuri, Black Panther
While others around her are weighed down with tradition and fear of the new, Shuri is driven by the insatiable desire to adapt, progress, and push the boundaries beyond what anyone previously thought was possible. She doesn’t take herself too seriously because she knows that, just like her many projects, she is constantly changing and redefining herself. Rather than looking to the past, Shuri is moving toward the future, and urges others to do the same.
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”
Much like Shuri, God is constantly calling us to keep looking and moving forward. If we don’t stay sharp, the past can easily entice us and take our full attention. Dwelling on past achievements, or even past failures, creates a sense of familiarity that the unknown future can’t promise. The past’s incessant need to focus on what did happen, what could have happened, or what should have happened holds us back from seeing what can happen. When we turn our attention away from the past and toward God, we see that what he is trying to do with us is so much better than anything we could have done for ourselves. The moment we free ourselves from the grips of the past is the moment we see where God is trying to push us to go.
“God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?'”
How different would your life be if instead of the question, “What happened?”, you faced each day asking “What’s next?” This is the kind of life God calls us to live. Rather than tending the graves of past mistakes or trying to keep past successes alive, it is time to leave the past in the past and move forward to where God is trying to take us. There are things to do and places to go! With this mindset, Princess Shuri could do the seemingly impossible, redefining entire industries and innovating whole countries from the ground up. What could you do?
To learn more about how to be a woman like Shuri who accomplishes the impossible, come to BACC’s event this weekend, Girl’s Night Out: “Start Your Impossible.”
To learn more about how to let go of the past and move toward the future, read Chapter 5 of Russ Ewell’s book When God Isn’t Attractive, “How We Can Change the World.”