Pointing Fingers

Earlier tonight I watched a young couple announce their divorce in front of millions of viewers.  Regardless of the circumstances or who is to blame, my heart breaks for them.  When I try to imagine how horrific life must be for them right now, I cannot.  Not only do they have to navigate through the painful process of divorce, they must do so in front of the entire nation.  Every decision and every action is publicly scrutinized and criticized, and blogs are jumping with those quick to point fingers at the couple's mistakes and gleefully bask in the destruction of a family.

A few weeks ago, Jon Acuff over at Stuff Christians Like wrote a post about the Gosselins.  He pointed out that when we talk about people getting what they deserve, we forget that we haven't, and he went on to say that imagining that we're immune from the same pitfalls is extremely dangerous.  The truth is that we would long for grace if we were in their shoes.  We would seek understanding, mercy, and love in the middle of a world turned upside down.  It's entirely too easy for us to forget that Jon & Kate are real people with real problems.  Their show isn't a sitcom scripted by writers.  They aren't characters acting out a storyline.  They are real people whose world is falling apart while we watch from our couches and read about it in line at the grocery store.

Yes, they have made mistakes, but then again, who hasn't?  Without doubt, they have made poor decisions, but I don't know anyone who always makes the right choice.  They certainly could have done a lot of things better, but that doesn't give us permission to crucify them in our conversations and jokes.

They don't need our snarky comments or clever barbs.  They need grace.

It's a sad day when someone's tragedy becomes fodder for entertainment and late night talk show material.  When we stop viewing them as people and only see them as a punchline, we have stopped seeing them with the eyes of Christ, and that's the real tragedy.

True Life Train Wrecks

Alright, I confess. I watch TV shows about other people's lives. It began as entertainment, but now I watch to see what people are really like. Lately, our DVR has been working hard to record new episodes of MTV's True Life documentary series, and as I watched some of them last week, I recognized a trend. Each episode featured two or three young adults who have something in common, and the common thread was insecurity.  True Life: I'm Losing my Hair. True Life: I'm Uncomfortable with my New Body. Last night, I couldn't sleep, and a True Life marathon was on so I watched True Life: I'm Addicted to Porn. My dad would say that there's nothing but trash on MTV, and he's probably very disappointed in me for watching it, but as I watch with my jaw dropped, I realize how sheltered and naive I really am. It's easy for someone like me to forget that there's an entire world of lost and hurting people outside my circle of Christian friends, and I admire the people who are honest and open enough about their struggles to allow cameras to showcase them for all of America. It heightens my awareness of the real problems people face and the lengths people will go to to find happiness and fulfillment apart from God.

Most of the people on the documentaries use it as an opportunity to "come out" and seek help. It's interesting to see the reactions of friends and family when they learn what's really going on, and it makes me wonder how many people around me struggle with the same things. None of us are perfect. We all have issues and problems that we try to keep secret, but I wonder how different the church would be if we were really honest when people asked us how we're doing. What if we told the truth instead of telling them that we're fine?

All of that to say, True Life may be train wreck TV, but if we're being honest, we know that apart from God, we're all train wrecks.  The show is about real people with real problems, and we would do well to sit up and pay attention. It's the world we live in, and they're the people who need God the most, and they don't even know it. Many of them think that if they could just fix whatever's wrong on the outside, the inside would follow along, but that's not the way it works. Until we are made whole from the inside out, we will never be satisfied. Only God can heal our deepest hurts and calm our most pressing anxieties. How many people do you know who really need to hear that message?