“I realized something about the way you watch TV,” my husband said to me the other night.
“Oh yeah?” I asked confused by what he could be trying to say.
“You don’t watch it to relax, like I do. You use it to process life,” he responded.
I had to laugh. He was right. We don’t watch television the same way.
For example, I’d spent several hours alone in our apartment the other day just praying, reading, studying and cleaning.
“You didn’t turn on the TV once, did you?” my husband had asked stunned that it hadn’t even crossed my mind when that’s how he would have preferred to spend a free afternoon relaxing.
I hadn’t. I rarely watch shows that are purely entertaining anymore.
Yet, my husband finds it fascinating that I’ll then watch an episode of Breaking Bad or a few interviews by Oprah, and suddenly I’m chatting him up about everything I learned about myself and about life. He said I use television to finally fully process whatever I’d already been mulling over in my own life.
“Oprah’s interview with Lindsay Lohan was so interesting the other day,” I shared. “So was Ted Haggard’s follow-up interview…you know, that Colorado pastor who was busted for hiring a male escort six years ago?”
Thankfully my husband allows me the time and space to “process” out loud, but he’s right…we don’t watch television the same way. I guess I use it to learn, study, and observe, and I intentionally choose shows that get me thinking.
That’s probably why he was a little amused, but not surprised, when I watched a few shows recently and suddenly blurted out, “I learned so much about how the Holy Spirit works this week!”
“Yes, I’ve learned that it’s the Holy Spirit’s role to convict and to comfort,” I shared. “Not ours. When we try to do His work or use something else, it gets us in trouble.”
I’d been studying a book entitled, “The Person and Work of The Holy Spirit.” I’d downloaded it through my Kindle app after a series of recent events in my own life led me to a deep curiosity and desire to under the “Person” of the Holy Spirit better and examine specifically how the Spirit works.
But sometimes books and sermons don’t resonate with me until I see examples in my own life or real-life examples in the lives of others. It was all starting to make sense suddenly after a few TV episodes and a few hours of self-reflection.
“I’ve realized everyone is hurting. Everyone is dealing with some sort of pain or anxiety. Of course, we can also be happy and content at times simultaneously, but the pain and hurt are always there in everyone’s life,” I shared. “And we all cope with the pain differently. Some choose food while others choose alcohol, sex or drugs. Some don’t deal with the pain head on but deflect the pain onto others or blame others for the hurt they feel. But these are all poor substitutes for the Holy Spirit. I see it over and over again through the characters I watch, the interviews I listen to or the things going on in my own life.”
I went on to explain that we all try to use that pain, hurt or anxiety as excuses to reach for those things that bring us instant relief or comfort.
“That’s what the Holy Spirit is for!” I said. “We can’t feel guilty for feeling tempted by those things that bring us comfort. Instead, we need to start recognizing that in those moments when we crave something we know isn’t the healthiest, that the Holy Spirit is actually trying to get our attention. God wants to be there for us and talk with us in those moments.”
This summer, I’d been challenged to establish healthier habits in my own life but had found myself struggling at times and then blaming myself for not being able to consistently do it.
“I’m going to stop blaming myself for having those struggles or urges,” I announced. My husband could relate. His struggle to occasionally overeat often led to feelings of guilt.
“We shouldn’t feel bad about it. Instead, we need to realize that these moments when we’re weak, vulnerable and tempted are actually opportunities The Holy Spirit is using to draw us closer to God. The problem comes when we choose a substitute but not because we have those feelings.”
I went on to say that I’d consistently seen on TV, and in my own life, a tendency to blame others for the pain or hurt we'd experienced. Yet, as I’d been studying the Holy Spirit and had been growing in my own relationship with God, I was starting to really understand the verse in the Bible about pointing out the splinter in someone’s eye when there is a plank in our own.
“We can’t judge others,” I shared further. “That’s also the Holy Spirit’s role. While some people may have caused us genuine pain or hurt, we still can’t judge them. That’s not our job.”
I was reminded of the verse in Matthew, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”
It seemed every time I was tempted to become critical or judgmental of someone in my own life, the Holy Spirit immediately pointed out a flaw or issue in my own instead.
“I’m learning to forgive others, because of how much I see God having to forgive me,” I said. “I know it doesn’t excuse wrongful behavior, but the Holy Spirit is reminding me to leave the judging and convicting to Him. We can’t use pain or hurt as excuses to do the work He was meant to do.”
My husband chuckled. He hugged me and said, “You got all that from watching TV?”