I've been making my way through Season One of Joan of Arcadia on DVD, an amazing show that ran on CBS from 2003-2005. And it's cancellation is the reason I won't watch CBS anymore. (Unless Bright Eyes is on Letterman... I gave in for 10 minutes just once. I've also really come to love How I Met Your Mother, but luckily there are several Chinese websites where I can watch it.)
Anyway, Joan of Arcadia is one of the few shows I liked enough to buy the DVD set. I haven't seen the episodes since I first bought the set, so seeing them all again is just a reminder of what a great writer Barbara Hall is, and what a great cast it had - Mary Steenburgen, Amyber Tamblyn (daughter of Russ Tamblyn from West Side Story), Jason Ritter, Becky Wahlstrom.
Joan sees God. He comes to her in different forms - Lunch Lady God, Cute Boy God, Little Girl God, Goth Guy God. He asks her to do things. He never tells her why, at least not in a straight-forward manner. He just tells her what to do and sometimes tells her what she might learn from it. When she finished what she was supposed to do, she is able to see that following in the footsteps of God may not be easy, but it's always better than if she chose another option.
Tonight I watched an episode where the following was said by "Little Girl God"
Everyone has a part of themselves they don't like, Joan. You carry it around like a weight. The lucky ones realize that when it becomes too heavy, you can choose to set it down.
Sometimes I feel like we allow our lives to center around the parts of ourselves we don't like. We are constantly focusing on the things we could have done better or the parts of ourselves that are flawed that we want to make perfect.
It's almost easier to live like that, isn't it?
When we do, no one can say that we aren't trying and no one can say that we aren't self-aware. No one can judge us because we're "working on it." But I've recently come to realize that focusing on all those self-improvement projects can become a form of worship. Not the good kind - because it puts all the focus on us. And what is this life all about? Jesus. Not us.
To dwell on those negative things not only puts a giant weight on your shoulders, but it has an effect on those around you. There is nothing good about constantly seeing the bad, especially when you have to choice to do something different.
Setting down the weight of what we don't like about ourselves is an act of surrender. But even more importantly it's an act of the will. It's intentional, specific and maybe even contrary to what we think we make us happier. But setting it down really is the only thing that will help us find the heart of who we really are.