I watched the season finale of a TV show tonight. It is a show that takes place in a hospital and there is often drama in the ER. I haven’t watched much TV this year. I have not made it a priority and have found myself living in stories that in many ways are better than the ones I could get lost in while on my couch.
We love drama and excitement. If we watch the same show over and over again, the writers know that the viewers need something bigger and better to keep them interested and tuned in. So many shows seek to out do themselves with shocking twists and turns that engage the hearts and minds of the viewers to insure viewer loyalty.
This particular episode was no different. In fact is was so incredibly shocking that I found my heart racing, my anxiety level raising, and actual feelings of fear gripped me. I also found myself in intense grief and loss. I think I may have actually uttered a prayer for the characters’ safety. Some may read this and think, “woah, pipe down little woman it isn’t real, it’s only a story. It’s on TV!” And they would be correct, the events did not take place, but I was brought into a story that wasn’t my own for the sake of entertainment. But instead of feeling entertained, I kinda think I may need to go to a counselor for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I noticed something about me as I watched. Having spent several months now with watching very little if any TV, I have been decalloused. I’m sensitive again to the stories I find myself in. We are addicted to TV or enjoy it because it gives us a story to live in and there are powerful things to be learned from stepping into the stories of others. In fact, I think that watching a good movie or show can help me to celebrate with others, identify with others and build common threads with others. But tonight I’m wondering if we’ve gone too far.
Has our need for the bigger and better caused us to become nearly numb to human tragedy and violence? Or does it make us more sensitive? I don’t know the answer at this moment.
It was ironic as I was watching this show where a man took justice into his own hands and went on a killing spree throughout a hospital that I received an email from a friend. In it she was asking me about how one can believe in God when life is full of one bad event after another. How can God let all these things happen?
I was watching “these things happen” on another window of my computer as I thought about her question. The following is how I responded.
Thanks for writing. Such a good question and I know it isn’t a light one. I do not know all of your story and the struggles you’ve faced. But I do know that this question comes with history and experience of pain, loss, disappointment, heart ache and the reality of watching a world around us suffer. Although, I can’t speak to your experience because we each have our own story and I believe that each of our stories is sacred. I do know that in the difficulties, disappointments and challenges I’ve faced the only constant good has come from Jesus.
It is hard to understand why there is so much bad in the world. People make a lot of the choices that bring on pain. People are extraordinarily lost for the most part and make decisions that are selfish, thinking those decision will only effect self when in reality the decisions effect every thing and everyone. I think God is very sad with the bad in the world too. But He doesn’t see people as puppets whom He gets to control.
I do know that when I walk with Jesus, following the example that he set in loving others sacrificially that my love for others increases and my understanding that God is good only increases. When people live out of the spirit of Jesus, things change. People become more generous, less filled with anger, hatred and greed. We live in a world in desperate need of those things. Jesus, said that there is no greater love than this, than one who lays down their life for their friends. That is a powerful message, met, I believe, with a powerful example. He chose to lay down his life so that others might be able to experience extravagent love. .
there is much I’d love to say or communicate. Not to convince you of anything, but simply to tell you the story I’ve lived in and out of that has changed everything for me. It hasn’t actually made life easier. My love for people increases and my heart aches for justice and the more I love Jesus the more I love those around me I know and don’t know. My heart aches, but it aches cause I love and I believe it aches because God’s heart aches too.
There isn’t an easy answer to your question. There is only experience of my story colliding with the story of Jesus that has given me hope as i ask the same.
I spent the remainder of the evening in an inner dialogue about the goodness of God and the choices of man, all while I was trying to shake the trauma of the events which had unfolded in the story I had entered into.
The story was horrid, tragic and one I wish couldn’t have even been in the imagination of a writing staff. But the reality is, this world is very broken and maybe it was more the pain found in brokenness that gripped me this evening. Of one thing I am convinced for sure, that God is good and Jesus gives a better way and the more tragedy I see or enter into the more I know this is true.
I’d love to know what you think. Have you ever experienced trauma from simply hearing or watching a story? How do you think of God in the midst of such stories?