Shia LaBeouf and the Heart of God

By Alyssa Plock

This is a guest post from Alyssa, my dear friend and roommate from college. For the past few years, she has helped lead a scripture-based recovery program. Her experience has taught her that many Christians are saved, but not healed of pain. Her passion is to see God move every hurting person to a new place through reflection, accountability, and forgiveness. Alyssa currently works as a radio producer in upstate New York. You can read her blog or follow her on Twitter.

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Cory Monteith, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams–stars with dark secrets who did not make it out alive; souls who, as far as we can tell, became permanently lost to the Father.

But then there’s Shia LaBeouf. His dark secrets are well known. But because of God’s pursuit, he will make it out of this alive. Shia shares a lot about himself and how he found God in the recent Interview Magazine article, a sit-down interview with Elvis Mitchell. As I read it, I rejoiced, cried, and felt a deep, brotherly love for him grow and grow. God reached down into a dark life and pulled Shia up.   

In the Interview article, Shia candidly describes his father as “a Vietnam veteran who came home disgruntled.” A former drug addict and motorcycle gang member, Shia’s father created a childhood of darkness and “irony” for Shia, in which the greatest gift he got from his dad was pain.  

Then in his young adulthood, Shia explains how he felt like he had become a slave of the movie industry, that he had given it so much control over him, and that he struggled to feel hope when the whole world was “dumping” on him. He says his method acting and deep insecurities often got him in trouble in the public eye.

Then Director David Ayer entered the picture.

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David is known for writing Training Day, The Fast and the Furious, and End of Watch. David grew up in the rough streets of Los Angeles, joined the Navy before he finished high school, and taught himself to screenwrite. He was a troubled soul until the Lord rescued him. David uses his movies to explore manhood, explore the complexities of life, and honor those who put themselves on the line to protect others.

When Shia first met with David on the set of Fury, the writer/director said, “I want you to know that what’s being offered to you is not just a film, this is a life-changer. We’re going to push it all the way to the edge. I want you to make this movie like you’ll never make another movie. You’re going to die on this set.”

After his first meeting with David, Shia became a chaplain’s assistant with the National Guard. Through this training period, in which he shadowed a chaplain for a month, he found God.

Back on set, David connected with Shia over rehearsals, camping, and living life together.  “I’ve never experienced unconditional love from another man,” Shia tells Mitchell. “And war is the only place in society where men are allowed to unconditionally love each other. And what we experienced on the set was unconditional love.”

For Shia, working on Fury was the best experience of his life because making films is his therapy and David Ayer was “not the observer; he’s going through it with you…It was like becoming a Christian–you subject yourself to everything that’s coming. You relinquish everything.”

At one point Mitchell asks Shia, “It sounds like this is the first time you’ve ever had real trust in a director?”

Shia responds, “In men.”

God’s heart is for men like Shia who grew up in “affliction” and “bitterness of suffering” (Lamentations 3).” He knows that at one point, like Shia, we were all dead in our filth, children of wrath by nature, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2).

It pains God to see His sons slipping away from His grasp. The Bible describes a story in which a son disowned his father, took his inheritance early and spent it all in crazy, reckless living. When the money ran out and the son hit rockbottom, he decided he would go back and work like a servant for his dad. But his dad wouldn’t have it. His dad had been watching for him and when he saw the son far off, he sprinted toward him and wrapped him in his arms (Luke 15:11-32). Like that father to the prodigal, God wants to run to his lost sons when He sees them looking for a way out of the dead ends.

I am grateful to men like David whose hearts align with the Father’s heart and who see their job as their calling. As Shia’s public meltdowns spread across the cyber-universe, he seemed to appear beyond saving to most of the world. But God allowed David to pursue him and show him what no other man had shown him–unconditional love. As God’s love changes our brokenness, we begin to feel the heartbeat of God and realize that His deep love can pour out of us and change another life.In David’s case, the pain from his past allowed him to extend the ultimate ‘pay it forward’ to Shia. He felt what Shia felt.

A few years ago, a friend of mine slipped further and further away from God. Through this awful experience of watching the light go out in someone’s eyes, the Lord drew me near to the depth of His love. As I would pray for my friend, God would cry, “My child, my child. Alyssa, you are not weeping right now, but I am.” And the Father’s searing pain and the Spirit’s groans would burn in my spirit. It’s called travailing in the Spirit. It’s feeling pain on someone else’s behalf to spare them, bring them to healing or, like in my case, serve God’s purpose in pushing one you love over the edge.

When God brings you into this kind of prayer, no matter how deep he brings you or how much it hurts, you are safe. When you have witnessed what God has for you, he brings you back up to the surface to breathe easily again, refreshes you and equips you for the next task. Just because it is scary at first, does not mean it is not from God. The honor in submitting to a travailing prayer is that you walk away knowing that God has shared his innermost thoughts with you.

I ask you, my brothers and sisters to join me in travailing for Shia. He, other Hollywood souls, and the people God has put before us in our own circles, need our love and support.

For Shia, pray that God breaks the anger he is still holding onto and replaces it with something more powerful: forgiveness; pray that God brings even more men to unconditionally love him and keep him walking on the path of truth; and pray that Shia finds movies to work on that (in his words) make his “soul grow.”

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3 Things I Learned From My Almost-Break-Up

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“I think I’m falling in love with someone else,” I told Moses, my then boyfriend, over the phone.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” he said with a trembling voice. Then he hung up.

It was one week before our first dating anniversary.

It had been a draining year for us. I was a full-time college student in Manhattan and worked 30+ hours per week. Moses was a first-year teacher in Queens, whose schedule was eaten up by never-ending lesson planning. We talked on the phone as often as we could, but we carved out very little time to see each other in person. The few times we did meet up lacked the depth, intensity and excitement of earlier days.

Hungry for companionship, I found myself confiding in another man. I knew it was wrong, but I was lonely, and I missed being needed. Upon hearing Moses say that he couldn’t talk to me, I braced myself for our inevitable break-up.

With swollen eyes, I woke up early the next morning to write an email.

Moses, I’ve made promises to be a committed and loyal girlfriend and I haven’t kept it. I have not given my best to you; I’ve only given you the leftovers. I’m sorry.

As I hit SEND, I realized that an email from Moses was already waiting in my inbox.

Marilette,

I didn’t expect to feel all the pain I felt last night. I felt that I was immune from it, but man, last night was tough. As much as I say I’m strong and secure and could be okay without a relationship, it is impossible for me to think like that anymore. I’m weak for you. I need you. And I want to be with you, struggling together, rejoicing together, honoring God together.

Babe, more and more, I realize that love is a climb, not a fall. I want to continue climbing with you. I wasn’t a good steward of this relationship, and ultimately, I’ve failed God in this. My personal failure has caused hurt and pain to myself, as well as to you. From this moment forward, I want to be a better boyfriend for you.

I know thoughts have entered your mind these past couple of days, thoughts of “What if things were like this? What if things were like that?” Babe, let me erase those thoughts from your mind. I want to be that person you always wanted. I may not be perfect, but when I say I am committed to you, I mean ‘committed.’

I learned three things about love from that whole ordeal:

1. True love is a risk.

Moses and I each had walls up that stunted the growth of our relationship. But behind every wall is a fear and lack of trust. It is not only selfish but stupid.

Emotional walls are paradoxical. “I fear heartache, so I put up a wall of protection. I have a wall, so I don’t fully trust. I don’t fully trust, so the relationship stagnates, or worse, implodes.” As the trite, yet true, saying goes, “relationships are built on trust.” And there is no trust without risk.

In his book The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis says it best: “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken.”

2. True love forgives even in the harshest circumstances.

Never in a million years would I have expected myself to be on the giving end of infidelity. I know some of you will not justify my “emotional cheating” as such. I would disagree. While I was never involved physically with another man, my time, emotions, and attention were given to someone other than Moses. These were parts of myself that should have been reserved only for him. As a result of my careless actions, feelings of jealousy and a loss of self-confidence erupted in Moses.

Moses had two choices: become angry and resentful, resulting in our bitter split, or forgive, resulting in a strongerrelationship.

It took a lot of humility for Moses to recognize his own faults. It took maturity to refuse to dump all the blame on me, the unfaithful one.

But Moses’ decision to forgive not only saved our relationship, it allowed a newfound sense of trust in each other to blossom and gave our relationship a fresh start.

3. True love needs constant, laborious effort to survive.

Moses and I got a wake-up call that day that a relationship is never stagnant. It is either moving towards oneness, or drifting towards isolation (Source). Moses and I had always prided ourselves in not being one of those “clingy” couples. But those days of not prioritizing the other person and “doing our own thing” allowed an emotional and spiritual distance to creep into our relationship. Then, at the first sign of loneliness, I attempted to compensate with another person.

It took almost losing each other to push Moses and I to take our relationship seriously. Since that day, we’ve realized the amount of vulnerability and effort it requires to have a relationship not only survive, but thrive.

What did you learn from your biggest mistake or hardest life circumstance? Let me know in the comments below.

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Resources:The Four Lovesby C.S. Lewis

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