On Thursday night, tears were streaming down my face. I had things to do, but was so caught up in my emotions that nothing else mattered. My phone lay next to me untouched as I cried- I didn’t want to communicate with the world. My feelings were real and intense as I let the tears fall. I was alone in my apartment, laying in my bed amongst pretzel crumbs and laundry, crying.
Before you put me on your prayer list and prepare a small but thoughtful care package ((*However I always welcome care packages and accept gift cards to any coffee chain, any and all forms of snack food and funny cards that come close to the line of inappropriate/offensive without crossing it) to send me for this hard time in my life, I must admit something. They were real tears and real emotions, but they were a direct result of a fictional episode of Scandal, Season 2.
Fitzgerald Grant and Olivia Pope were breaking up. I thought this time they were in it for good, but once again, one of them realized the other had committed another murder or rigged a national election or was secretly their brother or any of those other everyday relationship issues we all find ourselves facing. This was too much for my heart to take.
A few days later, I headed to church with the folks (I find it hilarious to refer to them as my folks) and was excited to hear my old youth pastor, Caleb Bislow, speak. The message was about taking risks for Jesus- which many times means leaving the ‘safest’ place in the world- our couches. Bislow, a missionary and soldier for Christ who has traveled to some of the most unreached places in the world, went on to say that our couches could end up being one of the most dangerous places, as our life slowly passes us by. He gave some statistics about the amount of time Americans spend watching TV and I tried not to listen because this was the absolute worst timing for this sermon. I cannot be reasoned with or be expected to think rationally when I am in the midst of a hardcore, committed Netflix binge. Plans are cancelled, birthdays are forgotten, and life outside of Washington DC, or Scranton, PA seems to stop.
I am not against Netflix. I am Pro-Netflix. (t-shirt idea?) I think like almost anything, in moderation, it is wonderful to enjoy funny shows and relax on the couch watching a movie. I think that is healthy and rejuvenating and good for us. I even support the occasional binge on the grounds of a recent break-up, strike of the flu, or as a celebration on a great accomplishment. But tonight I had a wake-up call. The last time I was this worked up was over the summer when I live-tweeted Seasons 1, 2 and 4 of Prison Break. (I just googled what happened in Season 3). I spent most of July realizing that I wanted an intelligent, mysterious man like the fugitive Michael Scofield, minus the life-sentence in prison and countless felonies attached to him (but in his defense, everything he did was to save his brother)
I can flip through local news channels and hear gut-wrenching stories about babies being abandoned and tsunamis wiping out cities, yet continue on with my night and finish off my cheese and crackers. Fitz and Olivia draw tears and heartache, while poverty and human trafficking barely cross my mind. Am I some kind of monster for weeping about a fake relationship yet changing the channel when the face of a missing 7-year old comes on the screen?
No, I am not a monster. I care about brokenness. My heart hurts because of poverty. It pains me to see the state of some churches. I am extraordinarily sensitive and could easily carry the weight of the world on my shoulders if I let myself. Ignoring the brokenness is a defense-mechanism; I have become so de-sensitized because I want to change the world, but I don’t even know where to start. The world’s brokenness is just so obscene and huge and gaping, that instead of facing it, I retreat into fictional lives and made-up relationships and I cry over them.
I live in a fantasy land sometimes, because the real world is too much to bear. It’s easier to grieve a fictional relationship than it is to face the realities of our broken world.
But I challenge that. I want to change that.
“break my heart for what breaks yours” is a powerful line from one of my favorite worship songs.
For some reason, I doubt God’s heart is broken that Fitz, a married and fictional President of the United States, is ending his relationship with his mistress. In fact, I would go as far to say that God’s heart breaks more for the fact that his daughter, Jenna, has shown more emotion about this TV show than she has about the hearts of people that don’t know Him, or people who are going to sleep without food in their bellies.
I fully plan to finish this show at some point, (after a bit of a fast and de-tox), and am not going to do something drastic like delete my Netflix account and stop Googling the actor’s names to get their full life stories and spouse’s names. I am not banishing TV forever, but I do find it necessary to take a step back and find something, anything to give my heart fully to in the same emotional, committed way.
I am going to allow my heart to break for something else- to break enough to do something about it. I am not going to fix any huge life problems (I’m no Olivia Pope), but I am going to take a break from Netflix and in the time that I would be knee deep in political drama, I am going to leave my ears and my heart a little more open to Jesus.
I want the next time I cry to be with tears that mean something. Tears that are changing something. Not tears over a TV show or tears over gaining 3 pounds. Tears that mean something.
Blessings not chins,