I am going to let you all in on a big secret. Are you ready? I tend to slightly obsess over celebrities, television shows, and movies. Alright, if you know me, at all, you know that isn’t much of a secret. You have heard me go on and on about my favorite celebs countless times or seen me share things about my favorite shows on social media. The real secret is, I use my obsessions over those things to avoid my feelings and the stuff going on around me. An even bigger secret is, I didn’t even realize that was what I was doing until a few months ago.
My realization moment came in July of last year when I hit peak obsession mode. At some point, I discovered a favorite TV show from my childhood was available on Amazon Prime. I didn’t have a show to watch so I decided to start it. Around the same time, I had a big fight with my brother. Fighting with my brother is not something new, but the nature of this one was bigger than before and caused a lot of unrest for me and my family. I was upset, hurt, disappointed, and distraught with the way things played out between us. I felt a lot of blame and guilt for the impact the fight had on our family. Instead of taking those feelings to God or talking them through with family members, I escaped into the world of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.
I spent every free moment binge watching the six seasons of that show. I even stayed up all night a few times, claiming insomnia, but really just not wanting to turn the TV off. When I wasn’t watching the show, I was on IMDB.com learning all the show details and behind the scenes gossip. That lead to learning all about the star, Jane Seymour, which lead to a desire to watch every movie she has ever been in. Once I burned through every episode of the show, I spent countless hours on YouTube watching old interviews and footage from the set. I even spent many days reading fan fiction (judge me all you want) because I didn’t want the story to end. This is what I do when I obsess over something. I spent the better part of a couple of months learning all there was to know about this TV show from the 90s. I never tried to talk to my brother. I never talked to anyone about how the conflict with him was tearing me up inside. I never prayed about it. I just watched TV.
Looking back on my life, I can see a similar pattern of obsessions emerge throughout the years. Around the time my dad died, I Love Lucy became my first real delve into this obsessive process. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Lucy and Lucille Ball, but what 13-year-old needs to know who the original writers of the show were? When I was 15 years old my mom got remarried and I suddenly couldn’t get enough of old Hollywood musicals. Enter, the Judy Garland era. What 16-year-old has a CD case devoted to a singer who died 20 years before they were born? My high school years also saw a love affair with Gone With the Wind and movie musicals in general. College was all about Broadway musicals and Kristin Chenoweth. When my Grandpa died Law and Order: SVU came into the picture. When I was doing an internship many miles from home I was comforted by the southern charm of Designing Women. Every major moment in my life can pretty much be documented by what I chose to obsess over to avoid my feelings.
Do you see what is missing though? Do you see the one place I didn’t turn in times of heartache, grief, sadness, or turmoil? You’re right, I never turned to God. I never threw myself into studying the bible, going to church, or listening to christian music when I needed it most. I took comfort in the stories of other people. I escaped into worlds created by the movies. I fantasized what it would be like to walk in celebrities’ shoes. I never took my problems to the One who could actually help me deal with them.
When I was younger I relished going to church, singing christian songs, and learning about God. The biggest celebrities I knew where gospel singers. I looked to the teachers, preachers, and church elders as role models who I wanted to grow up to be like. I remember God and church being an important aspect of my everyday life. What I don’t remember, is exactly when all that changed. I don’t remember when I started to lose interest. I don’t remember when I started to look elsewhere for role models. I assume it all started around the time my mustard seed was busted and I began to lose my faith.
It’s been a little over a year since I had my turning point of questioning if I truly believed in God (see Busted Mustard Seed), but even then I didn’t turn directly back to Him. I didn’t even know where to start, so instead I turned once again to a TV show, Touched by an Angel. I followed my same pattern of binge watching every episode, but it almost seemed like every episode had a message I needed to hear. As usual, I researched everything about the show, but learning more about the stars lead me to all the work they do in the christian community. I feel silly saying God spoke to me through that old TV show, but I don’t really have a better way of putting it. At least I won’t say something cheesy like, I was truly touched by an angel.
When I slipped into my Dr. Quinn obsession last year, I could feel it happening. I knew what was about to happen and I tried not to give in completely. I told myself I would just watch the show and not look it up on the internet. Then I reasoned that I would only look at cast names but nothing more. I realized, for the first time, I was avoiding a real life situation by escaping into this world of make-believe. I also actively realized I was avoiding the subject with God, because I wasn’t ready to deal with it yet. I knew exactly what I was doing and it scared me a little. It scared me when I realized this is how I handled every tough situation in my life.
I want to sit here and write that because I see the error in my ways I will never do that again, but I know that would be a lie. I wish I could say I have turned that obsessive behavior toward working on my relationship with God, but that isn’t true either. I wish I knew everything there is to know about God like I know everything about the West Wing, but I don’t. I wish I would hungrily binge read my way through the bible like I tear through biographies of my favorite celebs, but I don’t. The only thing I can say is that I am trying. I’m trying to set aside time each day to spend in the word and talking to God. I’m trying to cut back on mindlessly watching TV and spend more time reading about Him.
I want to burn with the desire to know Him better, but sometimes it’s just a small flicker of interest. I get distracted, easily, by the things going on in the world around me. I want to spend hours watching praise and worship videos on YouTube, but sometimes I end up watching celebrity talk show interviews for hours instead. I can’t recite many scriptures off the top of my head, but I can sing every word to every song in Wicked. The good news is, for the first time in a very long time, I am trying to do better. I have lost some of my passion for the entertainment world and gained a renewed excitement for things that bring glory to God. I’m not saying that I am giving up the things I have held dear over the years (I write as I sit in a room covered in Broadway memorabilia) but I am going to let God take priority over them. I am going to stop using them as a distraction from my feelings and instead go to God with my problems. He is the one that can help find healing and answers. He is where I will find true joy and happiness. He is the ultimate celebrity. The one who truly deserves our praise and adoration.