Saturday night my husband and I finished viewing a crime-thriller-drama series via online streaming. Thirty episodes spread across three seasons but all accessible to watch at the time of our choosing. We love how streaming services make it possible to “binge” or, in our case, watch an episode or two each night. My aging memory so appreciates not having to wait seven or fourteen days for the next installment.With social engagements being slim these past months and network TV shows forced to take an extended hiatus, the appeal of anytime, anywhere viewing of a vast selection of series took on even greater appeal. As a lover of stories—of both the true and fictional varieties—I adore how these new-fangled viewing options allow me to more fully immerse myself in the characters’ lives and become super invested in the storylines.
The downside? Due to the easy-peasy access coupled with the high engagement factor enhanced by the easy access, we tend to “blow through” said series at a pretty good clip. And then it’s all over, leaving us sad and a bit mopey which soon finds us channel surfing through 200+ cable channels of mostly reruns and offerings that do not interest us.
Sometimes it takes a few days before we’re ready to take the plunge again, to dive wholeheartedly into a new series. Why the hesitation, especially seeing as how we love this whole streaming thing? Well, what if . . .
- We don’t LIKE this series as much as the last one?
- What if the storyline is lame?
- The characters unrealistic or underdeveloped?
- The actors run-of-the-mill or just plain bad?
- What if the amount of foul language leads us to abandon the show despite other positives?
- What if we just can’t get “into” the story?
You can imagine the dilemma. And understand the wavering.
Despite a carefully curated watchlist, one never knows if a series will pass muster once we venture past the description and reviews. Remember, we will potentially be spending many hours of unwinding time within this story world. We will allow the highs and lows of these characters’ lives to take us away from the realities and mundaneness of daily life. We will anticipate their fate even as we cheer for their success. We are choosing to invest ourselves in the unfolding of this particular story.
As I look ahead into 2021, I have similar hesitation-related questions.
- What if THIS year is no better than LAST year?
- What if it’s WORSE?
- What if the key players really muck things up?
- What if more bad things happen?
- What if ___________ ?
While most of us are anxious to leave 2020 behind, the mere flip of the calendar page doesn’t insure we can simply close the door on the happenings of an unprecedented year. And considering the events of the very first week of this brand-new year, the above noted concerns have already been proven valid. We sincerely, with our whole hearts, hoped for a better, brighter, smooth-sailing 2021. But the unknowns loom as large and worrisome as ever.
Back to our which-series-next dilemma. Last night, with remnants of the last series still swirling in our minds, we chose a new a show from our watchlist. Settled into our recliners, we took the plunge. Heart, mind, and soul engaged, we dove in. It wasn’t the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat kind of action we’d enjoyed from the last series. But the cast of characters—some endearing, others villain-like or humorous—piqued our curiosity as numerous, subtle questions posed in the first episode began to engage our minds. While it didn’t garner an immediate, “I LOVE this show!” from either of us, we concurred we’d give it a go. We’ll invest our end-of-the-day unwinding time in this series.
I doubt any of us have yet announced, “I love this year!” But it’s what we’ve got. While no year—day, week, or month even—comes with a script, still we are tasked with diving in. And unlike the streaming series that we can choose to stop watching at any point, we can’t get out of 2021 so easily.
So, what do we do? We commit to giving it our best effort, to being all in. We cling to the fact that Jesus never, ever changes. We walk close to His side, seeking direction and discernment and wisdom. We lay our 2021 questions at His feet. We walk through the doors that He opens. We guard our hearts and our minds and our tongues. We remind ourselves that He has a plan. With the Father’s help, we invest our time and energy and passion where He directs.
Here’s to traversing 2021 with Him. All in and fully invested.