|Provenza and Sanchez in The Closer|
Today, as I watched Julio Sanchez on The Closer break down in tears in his superior’s arms, my heart shattered for him. Sanchez is strong. He’s a fighter. He became a cop when everyone else in his neighborhood joined a gang. And his brother was killed because he was wearing a baseball cap. The baseball cap Julio had given him for his birthday only a month prior. And when he clings to Provenza, their relationship moves beyond mere coworkers and more into the realm of family. No one else knows quite what to say to Julio, how to be there for him, what to do, but Provenza just let him cry out the grief and guilt.
There’s this weird belief in American society that real men don’t cry. Well, you don’t get more masculine than Julio Sanchez. But being strong wasn’t what helped him start down that road to healing, it was the tears, the ability to let his emotions out, that helped him more than anything else. And that’s why I love Provenza. Oh, I know, he’s had somewhere in the realm of 4 marriages and failed at all of them. He’s a smartass and gets into loads of trouble at least once every season, always accompanied by Flynn. But he’s also the Daddy of the group. He’s the supporter, the healer, the listener, because deep down under that gruff, grouchy exterior, Provenza cares.
Rusty has spent his entire life searching for acceptance and love and someone to take care of him. He finally found it with the members of the Major Crimes division of LAPD. But he’s afraid. He’s made so many personal advancements, put so much of his former life behind him, and now the new ADA needs to cross-examine his testimony before trial, asking why he was out in the woods that night, what he was doing when he witnessed the criminal act, etc. And he’s afraid, because he was turning tricks, and even though every member of Major Crimes knows about his previous life, he doesn’t want to remind them of it. It might change how they perceive him, to hear about his actions all over again, the life he led.
|Sharon, Provenza, and Rusty in Major Crimes|
A kid’s worst fear, anyone’s worst fear really, is that if someone finds out their deepest, darkest secret then the people they care about the most won’t like them anymore. This is Rusty. He’s at his most vulnerable when he pleads to Provenza, "I need you, Lieutenant. I need you to be my friend." This kid is bruised and battered, but healing, and the one person apart from Sharon who is helping that healing process is Provenza. What Rusty doesn't realize is that Provenza has heard and seen it all, and nothing in the world could ever change Provenza's mind when he decides to like someone.
It’s an incredible feeling, the realism of these two shows. Provenza is Daddy to Julio in the 4th season of The Closer and he’s Daddy to Rusty in Major Crimes. The father figure is so important, so necessary. And when it’s not there, when he’s not there, it makes you feel incomplete. You need someone to lift you up, to hold you, to tell you that even in this darkest time, everything will turn out all right someday.
That Father figure in the lives of Christians is the Lord, at least it should be. The hardest thing, though, is that He doesn’t have a physical presence in our lives. He can’t physically wrap us in His arms, wiping away the tears with the back of His hand, and a part of me really envies Jesus’ disciples because they knew Him, really knew Him. He could embrace them, laugh with them, wash their feet, weep for them during His prayers. After Jesus' death and resurrection, believers had to put much more stock in faith, in believing and trusting what we cannot see. And that is so hard to do sometimes when it feels like the world comes crashing down. But He’s still there. All we have to do is reach out to Him because He is always reaching for us. He is the ultimate Father.
The Lord is never going to be the one to pull away from His children. Unlike human fathers who make a myriad of mistakes every day, God is perfect and loves us unconditionally. We’re the ones who let little things, and big things, and in-between things block out that intense love. We forget just how much our Father loves us. When we remember His love, those problems shrink in size until they feel no bigger than a speck of sand on a beach. It’s the getting there that proves hardest, and that’s when we have to trust, to lay ourselves on the line, to weep honestly and let the Lord see who we really are. He knows who we are anyway, despite the walls we erect, but He wants us to show ourselves to Him, no matter how ugly we are on the inside. Just like I hope someday Rusty can trust Provenza with the dirtiest part of himself, I hope someday I can do the same with my Heavenly Father. One step at a time.