Fiction, movies, and TV

This month's synchroblog is at summertime-summertime-sum-sum-summertime and this is my contribution. I took time over the past month to consider what books or TV programs or new movies I wanted to spotlight, and decided that we all do that on Twitter and FaceBook regularly, and that that wasn't my best contribution to this discussion anyway.  I decided to post briefly about the importance of PLAY and ENTERTAINMENT in God's work in shaping us and using us, and to suggest that you seek out new joy in new places!

As I have watched my own boys and the children of others over the past 26 years, I have given up the old idea that the best thing I could do for my boys was to teach them to be disciplined and responsible.  I do want them (and me) to grow up to be disciplined and responsible, but I want them to be equipped to use those skills to pursue things that really matter in the long run.  The best thing I can teach  my children (and myself) is to have fresh eyes to see reality daily and fresh ears to hear God and Others and Myself each day and to know which is which!

I do not know of any medium that opens eyes and ears like STORY does, and I'm so grateful that Jesus reaffirmed that by His example in how He taught and in how He lived.  In my boys' lives I practice this regularly by reading to them almost every night (the little boys now, but the young adults too when they were this age) and by modeling a life that weaves STORY into every day.  In my life this looks like piles of books that have been read and re-read, snatches of reading time that sometimes result in burnt food (oops!), trips to see movies, weekly TV shows that I schedule time to watch (recorded TV shows, usually) and no complaints from me about those time choices from others.

Like music, STORY has the ability to go right by my analytic, unfeeling brain and lodge in my gut, and change my view of my own world and my own role in it.  As much as good analysis and good planning and good discipline are indispensable tools for dealing with reality once I've felt it and embraced it, they can't be my eyes or ears for REALITY itself, and they can take me a long way in the wrong direction if my map is wrong!  My own story is so limited and my own experience so short lived that, without STORY, I am doomed to a wasted life focused on my own perceptions and achieving my own agenda.  There is more!

Let me tell you a story:

There once was a beautiful young woman who went to college and did everything right.  She dated in appropriate ways.  She chose a good career and got a good education and a good job.  She fell in love and got married.  She had 2 beautiful daughters that she and her husband raised to be fine young women who had lives like their mother.  She added good things to the world in her line of work, and had friends, and had all the markers of a happy and healthy life.

Then one day someone changed the rules for what "doing everything right" was. People who hadn't done what was right were suddenly turning everything upside down in her world, and were labeling her as THE PROBLEM with their lives, and she was going to lose everything.  She felt guilty and depressed, and took time to meet with some of those individuals and to form a new ministry, and to try to effect change in them and change in her own self and world to come to some sort of new stability. She was more or less successful in that effort, and once again had all the markers of a happy and healthy life.

Then the end came, and she got to find out what DOES happen when we die, first hand.  She found out that it wasn't about following all the rules and looking happy and healthy.  It was about having become someone who could authentically participate in the DANCE of LIFE, and could DANCE with the others swirling in that DANCE.  And the ONE in the center welcomed her to the dance, but said how sad it was that she had wasted all the years of dance school which that ONE had given her.  Still, she was free to participate with as much joy as she could find in the whirling dance that surrounded her, and should know that she did not need to be afraid.


Those who know me know I am not the woman in the story above!  But it is a story from my heart for all the Good Christian Girls I know out there, and tells my version of what I wish they could see and feel and live!

We have been given movies and TV series and books and each other to be able to see outside our own selves and our own hearts and our own subcultures, and to be able to enter in to the eternal dance . . . not just later, but right now.

Right here, right now I can plan my daily doses of STORY and let my world be contiguous with all the other worlds around me.

Right here, right now I can listen to your story and then tell it again for another, and let our lives fold together in the great dance of friendship and wonder.

Right here, right now I can let my work hours and exercise and financial planning and prayer time be opened up in new ways and pointed to new places as God uses STORY (even or especially ones that push me off-balance) to teach me what really IS and what really matters.

And right here, right now YOU can set aside the sermon you were writing or the funds you were managing or the classwork you were grading just long enough to get a fresh shot of JOY and MOTIVATION and PERSPECTIVE.  Pick up a novel you like, and if it gets boring, pick up a different one.  See a movie you like.  Find a new HBO or SHOWTIME series to follow.

Then you can get back to work and prayer and relationships and "real life" . . . but it will all be different.  You will be more of what God put you here to be, and you will do more of what God put you here to do.  With purpose and joy.

Please check out these other August posts by fellow synchrobloggers: