How compassion, kindness and reality TV go together

I have a confession to make. I love reality TV. I much prefer it to comedies, dramas, movies and such. I just love following the real lives of real people with real junk going on. They have good days and bad days and they aren’t rehearsed. They just live.

Now let me make something clear. I do not love the Housewives or the Jerry Springers or the Kardashians. I don’t like to watch nonsensical, trashy drama for drama’s sake. The shows I love are of families making it one day at a time, like The Little Couple, Little People Big World, Kate Plus 8, Jill and Jessa Counting On and Duck Dynasty. (Yes, I’m a Duggar watcher. Don’t hate!)

So this week, while my husband is out of town for work, I’ve been spending some time catching up on recorded episodes of my favorite shows. For the past couple of nights, I’ve been watching recent episodes of Little People Big World. If you don’t know the show, it’s about a couple who are both dwarfs, and their four, now adult children. The couple, Matt and Amy Roloff,  have been going through a divorce over the past year, and the recent episodes chronicle the struggles and realities they are dealing with as they adjust.

I have, more than once in the last two days, cried real, compassionate tears as I watched Amy pour her heart out, full of insecurities and fears mixed with a new found excitement and freedom. While I don’t know her personally, I feel real, honest compassion for her, as I know what it’s like to be going through a divorce that you know is the best thing for you, but still hurts like hell.

I know what it’s like to think about dating after 20+ years of marriage, and feel vulnerable, unlovable and scared.

I know what it’s like to wonder if the demise of your marriage was all your fault, and if you’d just done something different, this wouldn’t have happened. Thinking you suck at relationships.

I know what it’s like to be alone in a restaurant, at a movie, at home, in church, feeling like everyone’s watching you, wondering why you’re alone.

In one episode she said, “When you’re afraid to be hurt, you guard yourself. And that’s not healthy in relationships.” And yes, I know just what she is saying.
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“What happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like… a sense of compassion in the heart. Galatians 5:22-23 MSG

You may think I’m a little bit crazy, but I think that the fruit of the Spirit living within me comes out in those moments. And though Amy Roloff may never know the compassion I feel for her, I’m grateful that God has gifted me with the ability to extend that compassion, even as I simply watch her on TV.
Grand Canyon 2010 029Our world is suffering from a serious lack of kindness and compassion. Our high-stress, make-it-to-the-top world has driven us to seek our own fulfillment above the needs of others.

In our hurry to get from here to there, we practically mow over others as we hurry to get in line for our morning coffee. 
We treat the poor kid behind the counter on his first day on the job as if he’s an idiot, because he can’t figure out the cash register. 
We are so fueled by competitiveness, that we speak over others, too bent on getting our own words out that we trample on the value others need to give and we need to receive.

What if instead we,
Hold the door open for someone, even if that means we get in line behind them at the coffee shop.
Remember what our first day on a new job as a young kid was like, and told him what we wished we had heard – “You’re doing a great job! You’ll get it down in no time!”
Listen more than we speak, letting go of the fear that our words won’t be heard, giving space for the words of others. Our silence can say what words can’t – “Your words have value.”

Galatians 5 describes our self-centeredness as an act of the flesh, or trying to get your own way all the time. It displays itself in short-tempered responses, cutthroat competitiveness, and a depersonalization of others. These, it’s clear, do not reflect a life guided by God’s Spirit.

For me, the choice is simple. Whether watching someone on TV or standing in line at Starbucks, a simple kind and compassionate heart will go a long way to sharing the love of Jesus that lives within me. I can think of few things that, genuinely offered, not only feeds others’ souls, but feeds our own as well.

Will you join me? Will you bear the fruit of kindness and compassion? Will you extend the love of Christ with those you encounter today?The fruit of the-5


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