Faith and the Force: ‘Ahsoka’ and the Power of Relationship

(L-R): Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo) in Lucasfilm’s STAR WARS: AHSOKA, exclusively on Disney+. ©2023 Lucasfilm Ltd. & TM. All Rights Reserved.

I thought I was done with the Jedi. As a child, I swung electronic lightsabers and pretended I’d become one of these Force-wielding warriors fighting for peace in a galaxy far, far away. As I grew older, however, I developed a sticking point with the Jedi and “Star Wars” in general.

For all their wisdom and power, the Jedi are supposed to reject close attachments. Consequently, stories in the “Star Wars” universe often depict relationships as a source of tension, if not the cause of downfall. This never made sense to me. I believe God calls us to live in loving relationship with one another, and I didn’t understand how the Jedi could be so blind to this source of strength and reconciliation. The further I journeyed into adulthood, the more I found fulfillment in my relationships. Stories of detached warriors began to feel less and less relevant to who I was as a husband and father. 

Until “Ahsoka.” 

“Ahsoka,” the most recent live-action “Star Wars” series, is a story about what it means to be a Jedi. It’s also a story about how relationships remind us who we are. As such, it’s arguably the first “Star Wars” story to center relationship as a path to healing and fulfillment rather than destruction. 

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The heart of “Ahsoka” is the relationship between Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Sabine Wren (Natasha Liu Bordizzo). Sabine, we learn, was once Ahsoka’s apprentice, but doubts from both characters fractured their relationship. It quickly becomes clear that by losing each other, each character has also lost her individual sense of self. 

Ahsoka captures the show’s central conflict at the start of the third episode. When Huyang (David Tennant), a former Jedi droid, points out Sabine is not qualified to become a Jedi, Ahsoka argues, “I don’t need [Sabine] to be a Jedi. I need her to be herself.” 

Ahsoka’s words bridge the gap between her galaxy and ours, where “becoming a Jedi”  means “becoming ourselves,” discovering the divine spark within us and nurturing the gifts and talents God blesses us with. 

If discerning our spiritual gifts is the real-world equivalent of using the Force, then I am as poor a candidate to become a follower of Christ as Sabine is to become a Jedi. I didn’t open myself to the Spirit’s call to nurture my gifts until I was in my late 20s and firmly entrenched in my first career. When I approached my wife to tell her I was considering a change, I had already armed myself with a litany of reasons it was a bad idea: Quitting your job to become a writer is cliché. Also, you haven’t published anything, you don’t really write at all, and you don’t have any other ideas for making money. 

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When I sat down on the couch and finally told my wife, she looked back at me from beneath her favorite fleece blanket, shrugged, and said, “Yeah, that makes sense.” 

It was her way of saying, “I don’t need you to be a Jedi. I need you to be yourself.” 

That’s the power of relationship at any point, but especially in our faith journeys. The people we are truly in fellowship with see us for who we are. They don’t want us to be anything or anyone else. My wife had some questions – and more than a few valid concerns – but it started with, “Yeah, that makes sense.” She knew who I was, and that’s who she wanted me to be. 

In the fourth episode of “Ahsoka,” Sabine has a chance to see herself as her master does when Ahsoka trusts her to duel Shin Hati (Ivanna Sakhno). During the battle, Sabine holds out her hand in a gesture that indicates a Force push, an attempt to use the Force to send Shin flying backward. Nothing happens. 

Surprised, Shin marches forward and barks, “You have no power!”, at which point Sabine folds her hand and fires her Mandalorian weapon, disarming Shin. The moment foreshadows Sabine’s fulfillment, not because she’s becoming fully Jedi, but because she’s becoming fully herself, blending Ahsoka’s training with her previous skills.

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Scripture tells us, “[If] you have faith as small as a mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you” (Matthew 17: 20). Sometimes the seed of faith within us is so tiny, so buried by doubts we can’t see it in ourselves. It takes someone else to see who we are and remind us.

Among the many joys of watching “Ahsoka,” the greatest of them is these: Ahsoka and Sabine’s commitment to each other models how loving relationship strengthens and sustains us through difficult times. It may not help any of us become Jedi, but it will help us become more ourselves, which is the only thing God calls us to be.