I am not a huge television fan. I have several shows that I watch religiously. They are mostly reality shows, and many of them are food related. If you were to scroll through the shows I have recorded on our DVR, you would see Chopped, Hell’s Kitchen, Cutthroat Kitchen, Beat Bobby Flay, and a few others. I’m not a huge fan of the modern day sitcoms that are shown on prime time television. In addition to that, I find the commercials shown during prime time to be often inappropriate. Food Network seldom airs commercials that make me cringe at their content, especially if my husband is sitting in the room watching with me. Before our youngest daughter moved out, I was exposed to shows that I normally wouldn’t watch. She would have them on while she ate or had time to kill. One of those shows was titled The Middle. She often told me how wholesome of a show it was–at least compared to others. I never paid much attention to it until not too long ago when my husband decided to watch it. He had seen a commercial clip for the show that described being the parent of a teenager. Since we had four teenagers at once and for several years, we can definitely relate to that! He watched it and was hooked. Now, if any of my regular shows are not on, I find myself searching the channels to see if any are running episodes of The Middle. Last night, I found one and as I watched it, I was struck by the fact that the plot line in that episode related closely to something I have been struggling with lately.
If you aren’t familiar with the show, it portrays the day to day life of the Heck Family. Mike and Frankie are the parents and their children are Axel, Sue, and Brick. Axel is the typical TV oldest brother–athletic, good looking, and not into school. Sue is the peacemaker. She has a positive outlook on just about everything. She has full braces on both top and bottom teeth and is usually rejected for anything she tries out for. Brick is the youngest and is “special”. He whispers things to himself, reads books all the time, is very socially awkward and has no friends. The Heck Family is a middle class all American family who struggle with bills and worry about their parenting skills–or lack thereof.
In last night’s episode, the children were on summer vacation. Mom Frankie wanted to do something special before school started. As she planned and forced the kids and Mike to participate, the kids let it slip that Mike was the favorite parent. Mike didn’t seem to make a big deal of it, but Frankie was devastated. At the same time, Sue was convinced that her dad favored the boys, especially Axel. Mike, not really understanding the importance of this feeling, brushed Sue’s concerns aside. The story line morphs into tales of Frankie’s schemes to win points from the kids–points she earns by doing things for them. She figures if she earns more points than Mike, then she will be the favorite parent. Sue decides to decorate an empty scrapbook and intends to fill it with pictures of “The Summer of Sue and Dad”. Both Frankie and Sue work hard to earn the love of those who mean the most to them. What they didn’t realize, of course, is that they didn’t have to earn that love. Mike loved Sue because she was his daughter. He just found it difficult at times to understand the life of a thirteen year old girl. The kids loved Frankie as well; they were just really good at playing mom and dad against each other to get what they desired.
This morning I was awakened by a paw in my face and a “Meow”. Sadie, my tiger cat, was ready to eat. Her brother, Moo, heard her and joined the wake up party by walking across me. If you have met them, you know that Moo is no small cat. He is a big boy. My alarm did not even have a chance to go off when they woke me up. I was irritated. I was tired. I didn’t sleep well the previous night and I was in pain. A typical morning for me. As I stumbled (literally) downstairs to feed them, my day loomed ahead of me. I needed to get eight hours of scoring work in. Laundry needed to be done. I really needed to iron my husband’s shirts. I had food in the refrigerator that needed to be broken down into smaller portions and frozen. I was way behind on Bible study work. As I weighed the length of my to-do list against the level of my energy, it didn’t take long for the tears to come. “How am I going to get through all of this feeling as lousy as I do?” I thought to myself. “If I don’t get these things done,” I continued the thought process, “then when Dave gets home he is going to think I’m a horrible wife. He works so hard and I sit and do nothing it seems.” You can see the downward spiral taking shape. After some time of crying, I sat in my chair, one fed and contented cat on my lap and the other on the top of my chair, and re-thought my thought process. Would Dave really think I’m lazy? Would he love me less if his shirts aren’t all ironed at once? Would he be angry if I only managed to get six hours of scoring work done instead of eight? I knew the answer to those questions was “No”. Oh, I’m sure if I never ironed his shirts or did laundry or had food in the house, he would get angry with me, but he understands, for the most part, that some days are just hard for me–physically and emotionally. My thoughts drifted to the Bible study work I was so behind on. And I thought about the Heck Family and God.
Strange combination, I know.
But, was I feeling guilty about my lack of Bible study completion because I thought God would love me more if I had it done? I often think that I need to perform for God…like there is a checklist that I need to check off and as long as everything is done, then God will look on me favorably. But that isn’t how a father loves his children. It isn’t how my Heavenly Father loves His children either. He loves me simply because I’m His. I don’t have to earn it. In fact, I can’t earn it. If I could than I would be able to take credit for the good things in my life. I know I cannot do that, though, Anything good in my life is only there because God decided to shower me with it. And the lesson I just can’t seem to learn (even though it seems God is giving me ample opportunities to practice it) is that everything that comes from my Father is good. Even those things that I perceive as bad. It’s strange because there are some things in my life that, if made known, certainly would not be seen as good, yet they are because the Bible tells me that God is good and He cannot change. So if God is good, and He is, and if He can work all things out for my good, which He can, than I don’t have to do anything to make Him love me.
Why can’t I get that?