Discernment via Reality TV

Last Sunday night I joined about nine million other Americans in a guilty pleasure past time—the season finale of The Bachelorette with Emily Maynard. First off, I have to say that in no shape or form do I ever suggest dating more than one person at a time. I also would strongly suggest against signing a TV contract which includes the clause that they may humiliate you or put you in death-defying situations. The whole set up sounds like a very bad idea.

But I did tune in. And I think I actually caught a genuine moment and the lesson to use your deepest wisdom to seek always after the eternal.

To catch you up, Emily, the single mom of a bright six-year-old, had narrowed down her choices to two men–Arie and Jef. She introduced them both, separately, to her family. Then she became quite frustrated with her family when they wouldn’t tell her who to pick. Though her father did add, “ I don’t believe you can be in love with two men.” And her mother (Ah-Ha, a voice of reason!) suggested that now was not the moment for an engagement. Emily was looking to outside sources for a sign and not into her deepest heart.

Ultimately, she chose Jef. Why? For one thing, she told Arie that while they might really last for a year or two she did not feel that they were made forever. With Jef she could see an eternity together. Also, breaking all bachelorette models, Emily and Jef do not plan on cohabitating before the wedding and are starting their life together by building wells in Africa.

So, not completely unlike Emily’s struggle to look away from the bright lights and the cameras to see what was in her heart, how do we discern our vocation? How do we hear what God is calling us to and not just what makes us happy or is most convenient? Ask a priest you know or a long-married couple and often they will tell you there are no fireworks in the sky, but the still-small voice of God in the deepest recess of our hearts. Our call is discerned slowly in trust and love. Not following just the whirlwind of emotions or the practicality of our reason, we must reach beyond this to follow the wisdom of our hearts. And once we are truly there to persevere in the hard work of relationships and ultimate trust in God. May God Bless us all!

You can see a little bit of the Bachelorette Finale here:

2 thoughts on “Discernment via Reality TV

  1. Sam and I have gotten into watching past seasons of “The Biggest Loser” on Netflix. It is my own reality TV guilty-pleasure. However I have been touched by some amazing things on that show, things like the power of centering and yoga to overcome hardship, how complete strangers can form caring family-like communities in just weeks, and how sometimes we need someone in our life to push us to achieve what we think is impossible. I think there is lots of good stuff to glean from between the foolishness and commercialism. Just like real, real life, I guess…

    1. Agreed. One of my favorite moments in reality shows are when people refuse to play by the “rules” and “compete” against one another because they genuinely care. Biggest Loser has lots of moments like this… and the show has become less about a “winner” and more about healthy changes for a whole community…..
      Also a few years ago on Survivor there was a Quaker from the community I was in on the show. He refused to compete. He built cooperation. They all gave each other back rubs…. And their team kept winning because they were working together so well. So what did his team do? Boot him of because he wasn’t there for the “game”. So interesting to see our human dynamics when they are genuine and when they are manipulated.

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