I turned the screen off in shock. My mind was spinning. I had just finished the final episode of the latest season of Game of Thrones. “Not his real name! He’s more than, but what! Oh my gosh!” -Immediately I felt the need to talk about my feelings, but no one wanted to talk to me. I’d finished the show a year after everyone else. That’s just how behind the times I am.
I don’t like being behind the times. I would rather be up on all the pop culture happenings. I go to comic cons. I am a pop culture nerd. But I don’t always get what I want. I would love to have the last say on what I watch, but well, I love my wife even more. So when April asks to watch something or she refuses to watch Game of Thrones with me, I let her pick. God is asking me to be a little behind on the times so I can love my wife better. Anyway, I didn’t get to watch the show on time and it turns out it was a good thing.
Yes, I know that if you watch the show and are more behind than I was, you could easily figure out who I am talking about and realize that it is a spoiler. That is why I won’t remind you that this is a shocking revelation about the identity of a lead character who has grown up thinking he’s a bastard but in truth he is the son of the true King.
But, here’s what I say to any worries about spoilers. I managed to stay spoiler free with a show that’s been out for a year and if a guy who has been teaching, coaching, and sneaking in episodes when his wife wasn’t around managed to finish season seven, you can manage it too. If you do take the time to finish the show, be prepared for some powerful truth.
This wasn’t the only truth I learned this past summer while I was catching up on the best that TV has to offer. At my wife’s request, I dove head first into This Is Us.
After watching most of season one in a week I was in tears. In the episode Jack, the selfless husband teaches his wife how to love football. Neither Jack, nor Rebecca wanted a marriage like their parents. They grew up in families where their parents weren’t on the same team. I didn’t expect the episode to hit me the way it did, but I guess the truth is I want my wife to love football too so she isn’t just a mistress to my team during football season, but a teammate in heartbreak and joy.
My tear-filled reaction was born out of the desire to have a wife who loves football, but it was more than that. I want to make sure my marriage is a healthy team. And sometimes I don’t know if we are a team because of her refusal to like football or to give Game of Thrones a try. That’s one reason why I picked up one of April’s shows so that we could share our time together and be on the same team.
I spent much of 2017 telling her I would not watch This Is Us. It just didn’t interest me as it seemed like it was too dramatic. But I am glad I did. Yes, I know I’m behind the times and am about two years late to the party. No, I have not cried during every episode (That’s April’s job), but yes I do think it is one of the best written shows on TV. And I started watching it right when I needed to. See, I am behind the times, but this is what happens when you’re a teacher, coach, uncle, friend, and most importantly a new husband.
It might seem a little lame that I used my first free summer in two years to catch up on TV, but sometimes watching a good TV show can be just as adventurous as going up to Rocky Mountain National Park and seeing Moose, which I did twice this past summer.
Last year, as I documented, I married April, which has been the best thing to happen to me, like ever, but I had to work all summer so we could pay for our wedding. I also coached basketball if you remember. While I worked my butt off during the school year and summer, I let my story consumption slip. I hardly read last year. I didn’t want that to happen again this year. This is me being back in control of how I spend my time.
Books, movies, and tv shows we consume are teachers if we let them. Recently I started asking God what he has for me in what I am watching or reading. Since I started this practice, it has helped me be okay with how I consume movies, tv, and books. But it has also made me weary. Not everything I consume is good for me. I can’t do horror and I hate stories that depict the world as hopeless, so when April has us watching The Handmaid’s Tale I have to chase it with episodes of Fuller House.
After teaching a summer school focused on the horror genre (why I can’t do horror right now), I started not sleeping well and started looking for something positive to fill my mind and Game of Thrones did not disappoint. I finished episode seven of Game of Thrones in early July and I felt God telling me, what lies are you living in? Am I like the character who has been living under a false identity his whole life thinking that he is less than he actually is?
So on a sleepless night after finishing Game of Thrones, God told me, Brendan you are my son. You are my child. A son of the King, just like John Snow. Do not worry, I have an amazing adventure planed for you.
A couple of weeks later April and I were watching season two of This Is Us. We were balling our eyes out as Jack loved his family perfectly. I heard God say, not in an audible voice, but it was still clear, “My love is perfect and it sets you free. I have given you a teammate who loves you and even if she doesn’t like football or she hasn’t agreed to watch the best show on television, she is with you in all your heartbreak and all your joys.”
I might have been behind the times on the TV shows, but I would say that I watched them right on time. The messages I learned from these shows are helping me live free and connect with the love God has for me.
So this year, 2018, I watched plenty of TV, and I am not ashamed I did. God used each well written show to speak his loving truth into my life. Here are five shows you might like and what I learned from them (Honorable Mention: Lost in Space and Longmire):
- The Haunting of Hill House scared the heck out of me, but reminded me that we are all broken and in need of healing.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events made me laugh and hit me with the fact that kids are strong and smart and I should empower my students to live to their fullest poential.
- The Walking Dead made my heart race and taught me that when the world goes to hell I can choose to love those around me like Rick did.
- Better Call Saul was so beautiful and tragic. You can be good at heart, but if you break when the world is against you and don’t let love heal you, you might go bad.
- Stranger Things season two won me over with heart and horror. Never bet against kids and don’t adopt baby alien creatures even if they are cute.