Soap opera cravings washed away
When we were newly married, my husband and I moved to a community where we didn’t know anyone. He began his new job, and I was working part time.
In high school and college I had been introduced to the world of TV soap operas by friends who were avid fans. I was now home by lunchtime and began to tune in to a particular show. I found comfort and consistency in having a routine that I could look forward to in the form of a noonday gathering with my TV “friends” while eating my lunch.
When our first baby was born, and I became a stay-at-home mom, this lunchtime ritual became even more special as I anticipated seeing the characters that had become so familiar to me. They filled a desire for some adult company, and some light entertainment at the same time. Soon, I noticed I would actually schedule appointments so as not to conflict with my show, and realized that I had become more dependent on this hour than I truly wanted to be. I was not pleased with this habit and knew that it was actually a form of addiction—something that exerted control over my thoughts and behavior. However, I didn’t want to stop watching.
I thought my TV story was harmless enough, and I continued to schedule my day so that I could be home to see the latest scandal. It was my time of day, when the children (by this time we’d had another child) were napping, and I could relax and be entertained by watching someone else’s problems. Or so I thought.
One day their problems became my problems! Horrified, I saw that my own life had actually taken on one of the subplots of the soap opera that I had been watching so faithfully.
In the fictional drama, with a few well-crafted and clever scripts and an appropriate amount of episodes, plot conflicts were resolved, and the characters simply moved on to new trials and tribulations. Actual life consequences were overlooked, no spiritual or moral growth happened, and everything was conveniently back to normal. But that’s not how it really is in life. Growing in spiritual understanding and recognizing and dealing with moral lapses and other problems revealed through that understanding are key to resolving those problems.
I realized that I had been lulled right into my own soap opera. I knew I needed to be free of this obsessive habit and prayed diligently to recognize that I couldn’t be enslaved. The First Commandment states, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). It became clear that this TV program had become a false god and was actually directing my thoughts away from a God-centered life. This verse from Second Timothy became a rock to cling to: “God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]” (1:7, Amplified Bible).
Obediently leaning on God’s wisdom and strength was the answer. God would help me with the self-control needed to regain independence from this mesmerizing trap.
About this time, I began receiving a gift subscription to The Christian Science Monitor, an international daily newspaper. I immediately felt a difference between this and other papers. It wasn’t sensational. It was solution-oriented. The tone and content always felt inspired, uplifted, and hopeful. The Home Forum page, with its delightful stories and poems, gave me the sense of family and sharing with others that I had longed for. The Monitor appealed to spiritual sense and caused me to grow and care deeply about others. I began to look forward to lunch hours with the Monitor instead of the soap opera.
One day shortly after this, I simply got up and turned off the television during my once-loved program. I had gained my peace and never again tuned in. I am truly grateful that the Monitor certainly does fulfill its mission “to injure no man, but to bless all mankind” (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 353). And I’m grateful for the freedom we gain when we turn to God to be released from any habits that don’t support our spiritual progress.