The Ripley Zone: Learning to Rest and Recover

February 13, 2019

There is a scene, in the movie Aliens, where Ellen Ripley (played by Sigourney Weaver) saves her squad from a mob of aliens.  Let me geek out and walk you through it really quickly.

In my best Sophia Petrillo voice: “Picture it.  Outer space. 1986”

An elite seal team unknowingly walks straight into an aliens’ lair.  The aliens descend from their hiding places and attack from all sides.  It’s an absolute bloodbath. The inexperienced and petrified captain (who is safe and sound in the tank nearby) has no idea what to do and simply stammers while his crew is getting picked off one by one.

Ripley tries to tell him what to do, but his manly pride won’t let him concede.  Forcibly taking over command, she commandeers the tank and drives it straight through a wall and into the alien’s lair, literally breaking bad.  She gets everyone on board, all the while fending off attacking acid-bleeding aliens.

She drives the tank out of the building and into safety.  However, once they are free from danger, she can’t stop driving.  Her eyes are locked straight ahead, and she is on full throttle.  The wheels have ground down to the metal, and the vehicle is barely moving, but she still can’t stop.

That is what I call “The Ripley Zone”.

It’s when something causes so much fear and pain that it’s difficult to stop running from it.  We could be far from danger and ground to a pulp, but can’t seem to stop. We can only think, “Run.”

When I was studying Genesis 16:1-6, I wondered if Hagar was in “The Ripley Zone”, when the angel met her in the desert.  She’d been taken sexually; her womb and body borrowed and used flippantly, like a cup of sugar from the neighbor.   Sarai, possessed by her insecurity, justified abusing her, now pregnant, servant to the point where Hagar’s only thought was…”Run.”  She’d rather risk cold, black nights and blinding, scorching days, pregnant and alone in the desert, than spend one more moment being abused.

I imagine, before she came upon the well, her feet were blistered and numb, her lips swollen and cracked and her body badly burned.  I bet her spirit was in similar shape, but still she pressed forward….trapped in “The Ripley Zone”.

In the movie, one of the soldiers she saved comes alongside Ripley, puts his hand over hers and gently says, “Ease down,” helping her slow the tank to a stop.   When Hagar came upon the spring and met the angel, I wonder if it was the Lord helping her “ease down”, gently placing a spring in her path, to help her stop, so she could rest and recover.

The angel asks, “Hagar, slave of Sarai, where did you come from, and where are you going?”  Hagar is not her birth name. It was given to her after she left Egypt.  It means “to flee”.  “Slave of Sarai” is a way of identifying what household and position people held.  So it would be like the angel saying:

“Running One, who works for Sarai in Abram’s house, where did you come from, and where are you going?”

A loaded question, indeed.  Like Hagar, Running One, was not my given name, either.  It happened after years of abuse and pain.  It became a reflexive response for self-preservation.  But, now, it’s time to ease down.  Time to rest and recover.

Time to remember where I came from and where I am really going.

If you find yourself in “The Ripley Zone”, take a moment and ask: Where did you come from? Where are you going? Spend some time talking with God. Rest. Recover.

Prayer: God, thank you for the “springs in the desert”, the people, moments or things in life that help us stop running from pain and start running toward you. Help us to recognize when we are safe and give us the strength to endure when we are not.  In Jesus’ Name we pray.

Amen.

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