THIS IS US… Most probably one of the best written and edited drama series I’ve ever seen, or at least in MY opinion.
For those of you that aren’t familiar with it, This Is Us according to Wikipedia is an American family comedy-drama television series created by Dan Fogelman that premiered on NBC on September 20, 2016. The series follows the lives and families of two parents, and their three children, in several different time frames. It currently completed its 4th season and two more seasons are on the way.
Either you love it and are totally hooked or you can’t stand the emotional manipulation. Doesn’t matter which side you’re on, one thing is for certain: The writers, director and editors have done a brilliant job at telling this family’s story in several different time frames without ever leaving the audience confused as to why, what, where and when something is happening.
In the process they are also touching hearts and getting people incredibly emotionally involved, or at least definitely in the case of my husband and I 🙂 The writers clearly know exactly where the story is heading and the plans they have for the characters, while brilliantly telling the connected stories of the characters, jumping between the past, present and future… One episode can jump between a public pool scene in the 1970s to a current day situation in a Doctor’s office. For the viewers lines are drawn between the experience of the same character as a middle school child and those parallel emotions experienced in the current day: In short a single theme is unpacked by showing the various instances the theme came to the fore in a single character’s life.
When I thought about it, in my opinion – it is similar to how God sees us. He knows our every thought, all our days on earth, how we are connected to other people in the past, present and future as well as what His plans are for each and everyone of us…
If you’re wondering if this post is a review about This is us. It definitely is not…
I’ve been meaning to write this post for a couple of months now and every time life happened. With that my thoughts were put aside, not once but many times. I’ve played around with the idea of this post, but just didn’t start…
And so another year started with a bang where most of humankind embraced the New Year like we always do – with a combination of, but not limited to new hopes, dreads, new year’s resolutions, regrets for past mistakes, ambitions, dreams, bucket lists, fears and tick lists of do’s and don’ts for the year ahead.
Who would’ve thought that 2020 would be a year for the history books, and not in a good way. Normality, freedom, jobs and lives were and still are lost and life has drastically (for some devastatingly) changed. Covid19 definitely forced everyone to scream to a desperate halt. Globally life as we knew it came to a standstill.
At first lockdown, self-isolation, being far from family, friends and not being able to teach my preschool kids really affected me. I felt deprived and just wanted everything to return to normal. I quickly went (and some days still do) through the stages of grieve: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and by the time I came to acceptance a friend shared a video with me from Wonderwall Music. In the video Aliche de Wet spoke about God speaking to her heart, saying that the world calls it a lockdown, but He calls it incubation – the process of keeping something at the right temperature and under the right conditions so it can develop. The act of keeping an organism, a cell or a cell culture in conditions favorable for growth and development. She went on saying that even during these uncertain times, not knowing what the future holds, God is birthing a new era for His church, for those who love Him and that this lockdown/incubation time is very sacred and intimate for Him and His church. (Watch the whole video here).
WOW, this made me think!
Some days I still want to throw all my toys out of the cot and my patience regarding these new-found realities of life are getting the better of me… even with the kids returning to school and most people returning (or almost returning) to work, life definitely doesn’t look the same as it did prior to Covid19.
The above-mentioned video however helped me to come to the realisation that there is a reason behind all of this, and although I do wholeheartedly believe that God DID NOT send the virus to earth to punish people (like some believe), I do know that He has taken this horrible situation and is turning it around for the good and betterment of His children. Some believe it already and there are others who do not even realize it yet. Only hindsight will give clarity on that.
On a practical level never ever did I think that I would be able to or have the opportunity to home-school my kids (that’s a story for a different time!) or to give preschool lessons on-line. I have seen how families, working teams, friends, colleagues, businesses and churches have come and stood together, become innovative and reaching out to each other like never before. Suddenly hundreds of thousands of people started to attend online churches and listening to sermons. Something they would never have done before…
Families were spending more time together on online platforms and having video calls, even if it was only virtually. Households were having meals and conversations again while Moms and Dads worked from home… I knew it would not last forever, but I hope and pray that it sparked thoughts of what if…
I discovered that all over the world people are starting to focus on what is really important and what could be again. Some things we didn’t have time for prior to Covid19, like focussing on restoring relationships. Families have become priority again. The focus during this pandemic is more on relationships, slowing down, introspection and restoration than goal setting, rat race chasing and to-do lists checked.
If your family, how you think of relationships and restoration of relationships are a priority of yours – I want to encourage you to listen to Pastor Robert Morris’s five part sermon series The Blessed Family, each only about 25min long. It is absolutely revelational, Word based and so true. Listen to the sermons here: Part One: The Broken Family, Part Two: The Blessed Marriage, Part Three: From Broken to Blessed, Part Four: Blessed Sons and Daughters, Part Five: The Family of God.
Please hear me out – I am not ignorant of all the bad and horrific things that have happened during this time and do not discredit any impact this has had on civilisation and the lives of innocent people. I want to thank each and every person who is risking his/her life in the frontlines of this pandemic, putting themselves and their families second.
I have however realized and want to focus on the fact that God, like the writers of This is Us knows exactly how THIS STORY ends… and that it is GOOD.
It might not feel like it for you (or some days for me as well) at this stage, but I want to encourage you that God knows precisely what His plans are for each and every person on earth. For those who know Him and have accepted Him as their God and Saviour and those who do not yet call Him Father. He knows exactly how YOUR story ends:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
In February this year, before the virus hit South Africa, my husband and I went on an Alpha course. It is for believers and non-believers. It changed our lives and made us realise that GOD’S PROMISES NEVER FAIL, that he LOVES His children, that he is MOVING between us and that He is a WAY MAKER, MIRACLE WORKER, PROMISE KEEPER, AND LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS and that He is at work even if we don’t see or feel it. We are indeed NO LONGER SLAVES.
I want to encourage anyone who are searching for answers, guidance or anyone just wanting to live a fuller life, to go on an Alpha course. Alpha is a multi-week course that creates a space where people come and discuss life’s big questions, explore life, faith & meaning.
In her book Lineage of Grace, Francine Rivers introduce us to Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. Five very unlikely woman, some with scandalous backgrounds but each with a unique purpose. All of these woman were destined to play a major part in the lineage of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World.
These stories made me realise that God loves and uses normal, broken people like you and I to do incredible things.
Have you ever thought about the fact that God wants to use you for something specific?
Maybe you are at a place where you have lost everything, on a physical, financial, emotional and spiritual level… and you feel that this is the end.
I want to encourage you that God can turn any situation around, including yours.
This is your time to change, to flourish, this is family, this is triumph, this is heartache, this is joy, this is sadness, this is failure, this is success.
This is the time to start over, it’s not the end, this is your new beginning…
This is life…
The amazing thing about This is Us is to see how decisions made in the past influence future realities, ways of thinking and especially relationships. In one episode a throw away comment to a vulnerable middle-school girl about her appearance in a bathing suite is shown as a deep seated scar to that same girl celebrating her 36th birthday.
If this pandemic (as well as This is Us of course) has shown me anything, it is that today is important and that the decisions I make today are seeds that I’m planting for my future self to cultivate and harvest.
One day we will look back and talk about the Covid 19 pandemic. We have the opportunity today to decide what that future conversation will sound like: Will we talk of the devastation of the pandemic and how it negatively affected us…
…or will we reflect on what was birthed during this time of incubation and focus on the good that came from it all, because it definitely aren’t all bad…
This is….. your choice to make.