stigmata sam

Sam Winchester gave me back my faith

Sam is astronomically important to me. I can tell you that I didn’t really pay much attention to him at first—I was too busy absorbing the greater story and trying to juggle my feelings for all these new characters to pay much attention to any of them individually. But time has passed, and my consumption of the show has slowed down now that I’m an active member of the fandom watching it live, and having devoted much of the past three or four years to SPN, I’ve had time to connect with certain characters more than others, and since I started college, Sam has been the one who has wrapped himself fully around my heart and refused to let go.

There are the obvious reasons why the birth of my intense love of him may have coincided with my entrance into college: he’s the up-and-comer who got away from his past; his anxieties as a freshman probably mirrored a lot of mine; he was smart and capable at Stanford and I hoped to emulate that here during my own college experience. The summer before I came to school, I found these sweet little Team Free Will paper dolls, and resolved to carry one with me whenever I needed a little strength. Cas keeps me company on airplanes, Dean sits safely in a place where I’ll always know he is, and Sam helps me out when life gets a little too stressful, when college and my future bear down a little too hard on me. On a daily basis I ask myself what Sam would do, and the answer is always comforting: he’d do the best he could with what he has, and he’d do it with the kindness and understanding and love that imbues all of his actions.

So Sam saw me through my first year away from home. Over the course of season seven I watched him exist in his own self-sacrifice and began to feel an overwhelming desire to be more like him. In the face of some of the worst shit he’d ever dealt with, he was uncomplaining and selfless, and I—an extremely flawed human being who often complains and is often selfish—began to strive to be more like that, to put other people before myself. I don’t know if I’m succeeding in that endeavour, but I am trying, because that’s the first thing I love about Sam: he is tirelessly seeking the good of other people. He loves his family and his friends so fiercely; he willingly condemns himself to pain after pain after pain so that Dean can live, Cas can be saved, humanity can survive; he is constantly atoning for what he believes to be his unforgiven sins. Over-atoning, even. No doubt, his self-deprecating actions are the result of thirty-odd years of trauma and horror, but he makes them into something to be praised, not to be pitied. Certainly he never pities himself. Sam is his own harshest critic, and the harder he makes himself work to make things right, the better the people around him are. Sam makes people better. In his own convoluted and sometimes misguided way, he heals them.

I met and became friends with Casey, and our friendship spawned an AU ‘verse we call Mashiach, which started out as discussing Sam and stigmata but has since evolved into discussing Sam in general as a Christ figure and a messiah. My dear friend Tania has been working on artwork for a small series of Catholic imagery pieces using Sam and others from the show, and working with the combination of my faith—confirmed Catholic here, lapsed but still believing—with a story that is so integral to my life has been transformative for me, and I owe much of it to Sam.

I was raised Roman Catholic and confirmed around age 16. I no longer attend Mass or receive the sacraments. It breaks my mother’s heart, honestly, but I have my reasons. I’m still a believer, though—God is extremely important to me and to the way I live.

And more and more these days I find myself dwelling on Sam’s faith—Sam the Christ figure, Sam the American Messiah, Sam the boy damned at birth to be the means for evil to enter the world, who nevertheless prays every day, whose face lights up when he meets an angel, who trusts in that funny little thing God gave us called free will, and who uses it to save the world through the sacrifice of himself. His faith must be incomprehensibly strong to withstand everything he’s gone through, and when I think about him pouring his heart out to a God he’s not even sure is listening, every day, for his whole life, despite everything telling him that no one cares, it makes me remember what I loved about being a practising Catholic. It makes me remember what I love about believing.

About a month ago I began to wear my scapular around my neck at all times. People have been telling me that the Mashiach stories Casey and I write have helped them figure things out about their own faith. I prayed a rosary of my own volition for the first time in my life. I’ve been keeping Lent properly (with a few minor slip-ups, but overall fairly well) for the first time in years.

About a month ago I began to wear my scapular around my neck at all times. People have been telling me that the Mashiach stories Casey and I write have helped them figure things out about their own faith. I prayed a rosary of my own volition for the first time in my life. I’ve been keeping Lent properly (with a few minor slip-ups, but overall fairly well) for the first time in years.

The thing is, Sam Winchester gave me back my faith.

I don’t know if any of you will understand how important that is for me, that I, being fully resigned to a lifetime of doubts and disdain for the institution in which I was raised, have started to believe again, to pray again, to have hope again, because if Sam Winchester who has been through so much, given so much of himself without thanks, and has seen the ugliest parts of the universe, can believe that Someone loves him despite his faults and failings—then I can, too. There have been points in recent months where I have felt as if I have nothing to hold on to except belief, and where a year or two ago I might have felt guilty and ashamed of myself for turning to prayer or scripture, exploring Sam as a messiah has changed that. I don’t feel guilty about hoping anymore, because I know Sam’s gone through the same thing and come out still believing.

Faith and hope—how could I feel anything less than absolute love and gratefulness for a character who’s given me those things when nothing else could?

ISam has changed my life, and that’s not an exaggeration, and I could not be more grateful for his presence as a comforting voice in my mind and a basis for choosing how to live, a role model for how I want to be, for the traits I want to make part of myself: selflessness, love, strength, and faith.

He’s given me so much already, and it is a privilege to watch him grow and change and come into himself, experience hope and just exist as a flawed human being who loves so completely despite the flaws of others. When I see him on my screen tonight, I will smile, and feel completely and totally blessed to have found him.

I love Sam Winchester because he is good and kind and beautiful. I love Sam Winchester because he heals, and because, somehow, he healed me.

(via jimmynovaks)