I, like 99% of Americans am bracing for my post-holiday diet.  This will include all the dis’s – discipline, discomfort, and disappointment that I let things get so out of hand.

I’ve been eating like a bear preparing for hibernation. But it’s not only food that’s been filling me up. With all the new holiday releases, we’ve had a bunch of titles on our “want to see” list.

We saw three movies over the past couple weeks and they filled me up in different ways.

In all three the main character faced pain, conflict, drama, and intense challenges.

I thought that all three were compelling stories well-told on the screen.

One left me sleepless – tossing and turning trying to process why I felt so sad and heavy from the watching.

The other two, although very different from each other, left me informed and inspired.  I walked away feeling stronger, more resolved to live a better story.

As we discussed the first movie around the dinner table I said I didn’t like the main character much. I didn’t like her values or her language.  Mostly I didn’t like the lack of redemption or the trajectory of her life I saw.  As I said this I probably sounded like uptight “Movie Mom” but it was honestly what I felt.

My twenty-somethings responded that this is real life.  This is the way most people live and talk.

Well, yeah, of course it is. I get that.  And I see value in authenticity and exposing ourselves to truth that may be hard to watch because life is sometimes hard to watch. We need to understand a world where not everyone grows the way we’d like them to.

But here’s the thing.  I aspire to something different than most of the “real” world.  

I know my daughters do too.  And you probably do too.  There are many who ARE living better stories. I want to be inspired and encouraged by them. I won’t live a better story if I just feed on the status quo.

This fall I started watching House of Cards on my long flight to Zambia. It was so easy to get sucked in and continue watching when I got home until I recognized that as compelling as the story-telling was, it was taking me to a dark place where I was willing to tolerate more and more that was not redemptive.  It was like crack and I was an addict who had to go cold turkey.

If my diet is House of Cards, and Scandal I can gradually lower my sights instead of raising them.  I accept more and more crap as the norm.  Why choose life-giving words, and courageous acts of love, and the discipline of morality when “everyone” I watch is settling for less?

But when we read and watch those who have persevered, grown, and gotten better, we remind ourselves that our goal isn’t conformation, but transformation. And it’s possible.

I don’t want to be all legalistic about this.  Some stuff is just dessert – enjoyable entertainment that is an add on to our diet once in awhile. Like Girl Scout cookies.

But maybe a good general practice would be to ask ourselves some questions about the things we watch or read:

  • Did this strengthen my commitment to following Jesus or weaken it?  Do I feel inspired or discouraged?
  • If I feel sad, is it a holy discontent about the state of the world that will motivate me to change things?

Isaiah 55:2 says

“Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen that you may live.”

What’s your diet like?  What are you consuming that makes you a better person?  What motivates you to live with greater meaning and purpose?


From the DVO app.