We are a society that watches a lot of television. I mean, A LOT. Some of the most popular shows on television garner more than 8 million weekly viewers. A newly popular show, This is Us on NBC, boasted 12.6 million viewers last September for their premiere. I seriously marked it in my calendar the previous May, so I wouldn't forget. The show is really that good.
While we're watching all this 'good' TV, I've noticed there is one main theme, one huge lesson, we still refuse to absorb, as a whole society. We applaud it on television, and turn around and ignore it in real life. That is in the area of love and forgiveness.
Let's take This is Us for an example. One of the most beautiful things about this show, is the family dynamic. Character development and relationship dynamics are at the core of what draws us in to most well made shows, and this show nails it. We are given a bird's eye view of truly flawed people, their lives riddled with mistakes and missteps, who continue to love each other.
In one season, we are made to see the complete goodness of an alcoholic father, a deadbeat dad, an overbearing mother, a food addict, an attention seeker, and a perfectionist.
Here is why this is so important.
People are not defined by their flaws.
The beauty and luxury of shows like this, is that we are afforded a glimpse into the lives of whoever might be the "villain" that week; a glimpse which we are not often afforded during conflicts in our real lives. And the writers write these characters so beautifully, flaws and all, that we can understand them, and relate to them, even through their mistakes. However, we watch this with the understanding that the other characters in this story line, do not have the same vantage point that we do. They do not see the story played out as we do, and yet, they love. They may fight. They may say hurtful things, but they also fight for the relationship. They choose to love and forgive, not even knowing all the things we, the viewers know.
Secular and Christian alike, we somehow have become a society that makes excuses for not loving people. And it's widely accepted. There are memes and quotes that float around social media, affirming our feelings of bitterness and resentment, telling us not to give to those who won't give in return, not to do for those who won't do for you.
Listen, the golden rule, used by Christians and non-Christians alike, does not say, "Treat others how they treat you." It is not about your expectations or your perceived slights. It is not about what they do for you. It says, "Treat others how you want to be treated."
Nailing down one verse for the cover of this blog was difficult, but I believe the above verse pretty much sums it up. That entire section of Luke 6 has a lot to say about loving difficult people.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. ~Luke 6:32-35
The point made here, is that we are all sinners; every single one of us. We all make mistakes, take wrong turns, or say or do things out of emotion which we later regret. Your friends and 'villains' can often be interchangeable with mix ups, miscommunication, and regrettable mistakes. We will all be let down by people, and we will all let others down. Wouldn't we want forgiveness? Mercy? Understanding? Isn't that how you would want o be treated during your most difficult moments?
We see these exact scenarios play out on TV all the time. We see forgiveness, love, grace, mercy, played out on a stage. Writers have the capacity to write great love stories with two complicated and flawed people, and make us love them too, even when they screw up. We cheer them on, fight for them from the other side of the screen, and then turn our backs on real life relationships.
In real life, we don't have the vantage point of an observer, watching a whole story play out in our relationships. No, in real life, we sit and stew in our emotions and speculate about the thoughts and emotions of others. But maybe, like those fictional characters we so love and admire, we could find it in our hearts to try to understand one another, relate to one another, and love one another through our difficult times.
While my daughter and I were running errands yesterday, I ran into a bit of frustration with a driver who didn't seem to know that they had the right of way. While I sat there, aggravated, I said something like, "Come on! Drive your car!" Chastity calmly questioned my anger, saying, "I think he was just waiting to see if you were going to go." I explained the rules of the road to her, about how he, turning right, had the right of way, above me, turning left and crossing traffic. Her response was thoughtful and simple, "Mommy, maybe he doesn't know that yet. Maybe he's just learning."
This, right here, is mercy, grace, and forgiveness in action. This is how we try to wrap our brains around the behavior of someone else, without the behind the scenes cameras to explain things to us. This, from my child, is exactly the message that we all need to hear.
Maybe (definitely) we are all just learning, how to behave, and that learning curve is different for everybody. Sometimes, we mess up, and wouldn't it be nice to have people treat us with kindness and understanding, rather than throw that mistake in our face, or try to punish us?
As a wife, mom of 4, and business owner, finding time to spend in the Word, can be difficult, so I get it! Come join me each Monday for a simple message of hope, faith, and encouragement amidst some honest mommy moments.
Want the Monday Message sent to your inbox each week? Sign up here!