No Spoilers; No Skipping Ahead

I’m an obsessive person. We all know that. Sometimes, my obsessive tendencies seem like too much, and you know what, maybe they are. What people don’t see is that I’m not just obsessing over silly things. I’m also learning about God and life. Even when I obsess over things that don’t really have anything to do with spirituality, I’m almost never closer to God than when I am obsessed. I learn more about God, my relationship with Him, and life in general when I’m obsessing over silly things than at any other time.

Right now, I’m obsessed with The Vampire Diaries and its whole universe. I am not a casual fan. I don’t do casual anything. When I’m into something, I am fully invested and fully committed. I’ve been wanting to watch TVD pretty much since it came out. When it came out I was in high school and my parents’ had conservative rules about what I could and couldn’t watch. TVD was not on the list of approved shows. Then, as I got older, I still wanted to watch it, but I couldn’t because streaming wasn’t a huge thing yet. Finally, when Netflix was all the rage and TVD was on Netflix, I didn’t have the time or energy to invest in it. Then, The Originals spin-off became a thing and I knew I’d have to watch that too. When TVD ended in 2017, I knew I’d finally be able to join the fandom soon, because I wouldn’t have to commit to an open-ended fandom. I still didn’t have time though, because I was a working adult already committed to other fandoms. Finally, last year, I was able to start watching TVD. Then, I met and fell in love with the Originals characters and knew I would for sure have to watch the Originals. And recently, the new spin-off Legacies came out. Now, of course, I have to watch that too. The thought is a little overwhelming, but I’ve got this! For the first time ever—unless you include Heartland, which is still putting out new episodes—I’ve decided to slowly binge my new obsession instead of taking it all in at once. I’m still watching it every day, but I’m taking my time, re-watching old episodes, and just enjoying the process. Because I’m watching it now and not when I originally wanted to, I’ve had a spiritual epiphany that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. And the epiphany is all based on the idea of not skipping ahead and just enjoying the process.
I’m a very intense fangirl. I have rules. One of my rules is that if I’m going to get involved in a fandom, then I have to commit to the whole fandom. When I do commit to the whole fandom, I have to watch or read everything in order. I can’t watch new Avengers or X-men movies if I haven’t watched all the ones before it. I can’t watch new episodes of the Arrow-verse unless I’ve watched every episode of all the shows—Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, etc.—in order. When I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I had to watch every episode of Angel between every episode of Buffy. Star Wars is a little more complicated, but the same rules apply. When I watch it, I have to watch it in chronological order. I came to the fandom late and when I did, we watched it in the order that my dad played it starting with The Phantom Menace. Now, I’m like 3 movies behind because I also have to watch all the movies every time there’s a new movie if it’s been more than a year since I watched them all. It’s this whole ordeal and I think it drives my best friend a tiny bit mad because she thinks it’s silly. She’ll recommend a book or something to me and say something like, “There are other books too, but they aren’t really connected, so you don’t have to read them.” Yes, yes, I do. If it’s the same series, then I have to read them! And I can’t skip ahead!
Now, as I’m watching TVD, I’ve learned in TVD season 7 and The Originals season 4, there are a handful of crossover episodes. That means I have to watch the first 3 seasons of The Originals, before continuing past season 6 of TVD. Except, I’m not ready to watch the Originals yet, because that means I have to say goodbye to a TVD character I love and I’m just not ready for that. I thought about skipping ahead, but I can’t. Because it breaks all my rules and it’s cheating. I have to watch it all the way I’m supposed to. I can’t just skip ahead because I don’t like what’s happening or because I know of a spoiler that I know I’m gonna love so I just wanna get there already.
Anyway, I say all the above to say that God has really convicted me. I have all these rules about order and not skipping ahead while reading books and watching TV Shows, but in life I’m not willing to be just as patient. In life, I wanna skip the boring scenes or the scenes that hurt—which are my favorite scenes in books and shows—and skip ahead to the happy scenes. I wanna know all the spoilers about my life so I can know what’s gonna happen next. And that’s just wrong. How I could I be so adamant about hating spoilers and not skipping around in TV and books, but be so ready to do just that in life?
I learned from watching Pretty Little Liars that I can’t always trust writers to put the best story out there. I can’t trust them to answer all my questions and put a pretty red bow on everything in the end so that I’m happy and satisfied with everything that happens. Yet, even after PLL I refuse to jump ahead on shows and books that already finished with endings that are easily accessible. Why then, with the Perfect Author writing my story, do I fail to trust He will answer all my questions, tie up all the loose ends with pretty red bows, and leave me happy and satisfied with how things play out? Why, when I’ve seen over and over again that He will, do I question whether He’ll bring in and take out all the right characters at the right times? Why do I question if His plot and setting are right? Why do I feel like I’ll enjoy the story more if I can cheat and read all the spoilers?
The Vampire Diaries is 10 years old. I’ve seen spoilers and know how to find them. I could jump ahead and get to the parts I want to see instead of trudging through the stuff I don’t care about, but I refuse to. Why? I know the story won’t be as beautiful and special if I don’t enjoy it in its entirety. If I want the beauty, the I have to watch everything unfold as it’s supposed to happen. Now, I realize that if I’m going to have that mentality with a silly TV show, then I also need to have that mentality with life. Just like TVD has already been written, so has my life. Just like Julie Plec knew before it aired what was going to happen with her TVD characters, God knows what’s going to happen with me. Just like I trust that Julie, the cast, and the crew, made TVD the best it could be, I have to trust God has done the same for my story. And just like I enjoyed the mystery of PLL and not knowing what was going to happen next even when it was frustrating, I have to enjoy the mystery of my life and not knowing what’s going to happen, even when it’s frustrating. ‘Cause here’s the thing. I’m not the author of my story. Heck, I’m not even the star of my story. At best, I’m like the ever-present but supporting character. God is the Author and star of my story. That means I need to trust Him and stop trying to skip ahead because it’s hard or boring. If I did that, then I wouldn’t be able to truly appreciate the happy and beautiful scenes. So, please pray with me as I try to remember that truth during this time and future times in my life when I just wanna get to “the good stuff” already. And, if you’re like me, then you’re totally welcome to join me on my journey to love life as it unfolds instead of always looking for spoilers!

Darkness, the Unknown, and Surprises

During worship at church a couple months ago, our worship team introduced this song to the congregation. My best friend Shelby was leading worship that morning and reminded us of being little kids who were afraid of the dark until we turned on our night lights and could see enough that things weren’t so scary anymore. Then, she compared the night light to Jesus. Just like the night light, but even better, we don’t have to fear anything, because Jesus is the Light that shines through our darkest nights.

In Harry Potter, Harry and Remus Lupin are having a conversation. Lupin looks at Harry and in the same way he often does, he gives him fatherly advice. He tells him, “It is the unknown we fear in death and darkness, nothing more.” I found this simple statement to be very profound.

In my favorite show, Heartland, the main girl, Amy, freaks out when she finds out her sister, Lou, and their grandpa Jack know her boyfriend, Ty, is going to propose and don’t tell her. The whole thing is completely irrational. She knows that, I know that, and everyone else in the show and who has seen it knows it too. And yet, she still freaks out. She still demands to know why they didn’t tell her he was going to propose. It’s absolutely ridiculous, but not an uncommon reaction.

I grew up with twelve younger brothers and sisters and we only had three bedrooms in our home. One for our parents and the baby, another for the boys, and the last for the girls. With so many little kids in our room, we always slept with a nightlight. Now, as an adult, I still can’t sleep without a light on. Part of the reason is due to habit, but another part is due to my irrational fear of the unknown parts of darkness. When Shelby made the comparison of night lights and Jesus, it really hit home for me. I still sleep with a nightlight, so it was easy for me to see the analogy. Jesus is the much more powerful night light of my life. And thank God for that, because I also totally relate to Lupin’s quote about darkness and the unknown. I can’t stand the unknown.

Honestly, I’m fine with not being in control. I don’t like leading and I’d probably mess everything up if I tried leading my own life anyway. What I’m not always so fine with is not knowing what’s going to happen next or how it’s going to happen. I know God will provide for me. He always has and He always will. I just wish He would also show me the blueprints every now and then. That’s not how God works though and today I realized maybe that’s because He wants to give us a happy surprise. Like Ty, Lou, and Jack, for Amy, God wants me to be happy—not always in the way I think is best, but always in the way He knows is best. Sometimes, me being happy means waiting for Him to surprise me with a gift even better than a diamond ring—though I sure do hope that’s in my future too someday.

A few months ago, the AC went out in my car. It wasn’t that big of a deal, because it was winter, but I live in Texas. More days than not, it’s in the 90’s and feels like the 100’s and my primary job is for Uber Eats so I’m in the car for several hours a day. The problem is, I’ve only just had enough money to pay my regular bills the past several months. I couldn’t possibly see how I would be able to pay to fix my air conditioner. While I was stressing and fussing about how I had no idea how it could be fixed before the worst days of summer, I nearly ruined a beautiful surprise God had for me.

Sunday afternoon, my pastor noticed I had a box fan in my car. Naturally, he put two and two together to realize I didn’t have a working AC. He quickly told me he would talk with the guy who is basically our church mechanic—nearly everyone goes to Him when we’ve got car problems—and said they would take care of it for me. Then, he offered to let me use his mostly unused extra car until it was fixed. At first, I rejected the offer to use his car and kind of wanted to say no to him fixing my car. Part of it was a pride issue—but that’s a post for another time—and part of it was just me being irrational. I was so consumed with wanting to know why God wouldn’t tell me how He would provide for me, that I nearly ruined His surprise fix.

Barely over 48 hours later, I was pulling away from my pastor’s house and these three concepts I’ve been dwelling on suddenly came together. Because Jesus is the Light in darkness, I should embrace the surprises He has in store for me instead of freaking out and fearing the unknown.

*Bonus* Remember, the passions and people in your life are gifts from God. He’s totally okay with you having passions and loving people, in fact, He made you that way. Just be careful to acknowledge Him as the Giver and them as the gift when He speaks through your passions and people. I know He wants to use our passions and people to speak to us because that’s almost always how He speaks to me, but we have to be careful when He does. We have to remember, they are simply the burning bushes God uses to share His presence and power with us.

February 1, 2018 – A New Month; A New Start

I think 2018 is going to be the year I follow through with and or finish things. I’m going to finish writing The Mask; Her Aid. Then, I’ll hopefully finish writing my dystopian novel. I’m finally following through with my decision to organize all of my papers, upload most to the computer, and dispose of the paper copies except for select exceptions–like specific/important songs, original copies of things that just feel like they need to be on paper. Things like that. Today, I organized all of my papers into binders and folders. Now, they’re sitting on the TV stand. It looks so neat and organized!

I also shredded ALL of my Pretty Little Liars and Buffy the Vampire Slayer papers. I had nearly 200 sheets of paper combined! I’ve decided that in 2018, I’m not going to read or watch anything I can’t read or watch with the girls and any younger siblings. 7th Heaven has really influenced me to be the best example I can be! Matt always tries to be the best example and Mary failed to be a good example. I thought about ditching PLL and Buffy a lot in 2017, but didn’t actually do it. This year I am though. I’m also probably not going to continue watching Riverdale. Idk that there’s anything particularly wrong with it, but it also doesn’t really teach any good morals. I’m gonna stick to shoes like Heartland, 7th Heaven, Boy Meets World, Full House, Fuller House, and all those older shows. I asked people on Facebook what kind of shoes they’d recommend like those shoes and maybe like The OC, One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, and Hart of Dixie. I’m tired of shows like Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer that are constantly going on about sex and other stuff. Buffy did have some good lessons in it, so I’m gonna keep those scenes, but otherwise, I’m getting ride of all of it! It’s garbage and if I can’t watch it with kids, then I shouldn’t watch it all!

Anyway, I woke up this morning and read my Bible. Then, I started watching 7th Heaven and organizing my papers. I had to stop to walk Naomi home from school. When I got home, I watched another episode of 7th Heaven and organized some more. Then, I left to put the kids to bed for mom so she could go watch the game and Buffalo Wild Wings. I stayed for a while to make sure they went to bed. Bonnie and I had fun with Snap Chat filters before I went home again. At home, I continued to watch 7th Heaven and organize papers. Now, I’m gonna take my turns on Words with Friends, maybe read a chapter of The One, and go to bed!

A Heart Full of Hope, and a Head Full of Nope

I’m the kind of girl who spends a lot of time studying what type I am in various tests. For the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator, I’m an INFJ-T. For the four temperaments, I go back and forth between Sanguine and Melancholy. And for spiritual gifts, I have discernment and mercy. While MBTI, temperaments, and spiritual gifts are completely different types of tests, my results all say the same thing—I’m a feeler. I feel deeply and intensely, so much so that I get attached to every person to come into my life and every character too. I’m sure you can tell that from my obsessive girl blog, but if you can’t, then you can look at the Facebook messages sent between me and my friend Kelli or the text messages I’ve sent to my best friend Shelby, and my brother and sister, Jacob and Lydia. Most of my messages to these four are related to my deep feelings related to TV characters. I’ve tried to rein it in, since they are just fictional characters, but I can’t help it. I’m the girl who gets emotionally attached to anything that breathes, even if the breathing is fictional.

Recently, I’ve started to think about which characters I’m most like. I’ve been watching the Canadian TV show, “Heartland,” since I was halfway through high school, so about the 4th or 5th of going on 11 seasons. Only during this time around though, have I realized just how much the main character, Amy Fleming, and I are alike—like, enough that Lydia, Jacob, and our sister Naomi have each come to me on their own to say she reminds them of me.

I’m also a lot like one of the main characters from the American teen drama, “One Tree Hill.” Talk about being a lot like a character, if there were a way to take the hater of change, ‘slightly’ stubborn, and sometimes bossy cowgirl Amy from “Heartland” and the music loving, true love believing Haley James from “One Tree Hill” and fuse them together, then you’d pretty much have a fictional copy of me.

For all our differences, which seriously aren’t many, Amy, Haley, and I have two major things in common, we’ve got hearts full of hope and heads full of nope. What I mean by that is we’ve seen some pretty crappy things happen in the world, so we don’t exactly trust people very easily. Despite it all though, we give people the chance to break our hearts anyway. And at least as often as our hearts are broken because of someone else, they’re broken just as often because of our own foolish mistakes. So, yeah, we know a thing or two about second chances, because we give them and we get them a lot more than we feel we should.

My best friend and I were talking recently with our friends at church about the varying levels of trust that we give to people. I hadn’t thought about it much before our conversation, but I’ve realized since then that trust is a lot like love—there are varying levels. Love can be broken down by using the Greek words, “Agape—unconditional, selfless love,” “Eros—romantic or sexual love,” “Phileo—love between friends,” and “Storge—natural, effortless love (like parents).” Try as I might, I couldn’t find a way to decipher the different types of trust so easily though, and I think it’s because it all comes back to having a “heart full of hope, and a head full of nope.” The thing about trust is that, unlike love, we kind of have different words for trust in English, and I think those words are confidence, faith, trust, and reliance.

Because Amy, Haley, and I have broken our own hearts so many times, we don’t always have the strongest confidence in ourselves. Sure, if you watch the shows, then you’ll see that Amy and Haley are both strong, independent women who don’t need a man, but choose to stand by their man’s side—most of the time—no matter what anyway, but being strong and independent doesn’t translate into being confident. I’m 23 years old and I’ve been single my whole life, I’ve taken care of myself and most of my expenses for about 5 years now, and I’ve lived on my own for about 3 years now—I am strong and independent. I don’t need no man to take care of me (though, I still think it’d be nice, but that’s neither here nor there). I still struggle with being confident from time to time though. And most of the time, it all comes back to caring so much and so deeply.

Amy has a lot of relationship drama throughout the series, because she lacks the confidence of being able to handle change and because not only did she lose her mother when she needed her most, but two of the three most important men in her life have left her. So, even though both men are back now, she’s always afraid they’ll leave her again…because something must be wrong with her. Haley has a lot of various types of drama because she lacks the confidence to follow her dreams and then when she finally does, she goes about in all the wrong ways, so she screws up her relationships with everyone, and then spends the rest of the series worrying about the strength of her relationships, because of her own stupid mistakes. I face a lot of problems in my life too, because on top of not handling change very well, I am also way too concerned about what people think of me being so emotionally attached to everyone and everything, so instead of embracing who I am, I apologize a lot and curl up into myself in an attempt to hide how attached I am to things—like the fact that I’m currently in the middle of re-watching “Heartland” for at least the fifth time.

Our strong and independent confidence issues tend to help and hinder Amy, Haley, and I in the faith department too. As I mentioned earlier, no matter how many times we have our hearts broken, we still give people the chance to break us. Why? Because we have faith in people. We’ve seen the dark side of the moon, but we still know that if we look at the other side, we’ll find the light. The depth of our hearts is great for those whom tread lightly, but it’s not so great for those whom take advantage of our faith in humanity. You can break our hearts a million times, but as long as we know you’re trying, then you pretty much have a free ride on the rollercoaster of our hearts. If you cross the line though and make no effort to make things better, then you just burned the bridge that has undoubtedly helped you get past the problems of your past. There aren’t very many people in our worlds whom Amy, Haley, and I don’t like or trust, but they’re there, and it takes a long time for them to make things right, if they ever can at all.

Take Tim Fleming, Kit Bailey, and Chase Powers for Amy; they’re all kind of jerks to her most of the time, but they do try at times to be on Amy’s good side, so she gives them chances—to her own detriment at times. The same is true for Chris Keller and Haley James, he’s a jerk, but he tries, so Haley gives him chance after chance to get in her good graces. I’ve got my fair share of people who keep digging themselves into a hole in my life too, but they shall remain nameless and undescribed, because the thing about having faith in everyone, is that we don’t intentionally speak negatively of anyone, because we want them to prove our doubts wrong—note how I said intentionally, because it does happen, but we’re human (yes, even fictional humans) so negativity does come out sometimes.

After faith, there is trust. While Amy, Haley, and I have faith in everyone, we trust very few people. Amy trusts Jack, Lou, Mallory, Tim, and Ty. Haley trusts Lucas, Peyton, Brooke, Clay, Quinn, and Nathan. I trust my best friends, that I speak of often on this blog, Stephanie, Shelby, Allie, Holly, my siblings, parents, and grandparents.

We trust, because even though we’ve been hurt and broken, sometimes by the people we trust most, we know that—no matter how it may feel in the moment—these people would never intentionally hurt us. Amy and Ty have had more than their fair share of break ups and fights, but they’re always there for each other. Tim left Amy, Lou, and their mom when Amy was only five years old and didn’t return until she was fifteen, but she knows that had far more to do with him and his problems than it did with anything else and once he came back, even in his own misguided steps, he has always been there for her. Haley and Nathan came close to divorce a couple of times, but they fought through it, and even when it was his fault, Haley knew that Nathan loved her with his whole heart. My siblings and I have fought like cats and dogs, my mom and I have had fights and arguments that people would eat up if we were on reality TV, and my dad and I have had a rocky relationship at best for a large majority of my life. Despite it all though, I trust my family with all that I am, because even when we’re spiteful, I know that we’re always there for each other.

Finally, even though we trust a select few, Amy, Haley, and I rely on next to no one. After a while, Amy and Haley both realized that if they want successful, happy relationships, then they have to realize that they not only have to have faith in and trust Ty and Nathan, but that they also have to rely on them to be their rock. Other than Ty and Nathan though, Amy and Haley really don’t rely on anyone. They trust their family and friends enough to go to them for advice and support, but at the end of the day, they fall back on being strong and independent women with 99% reliable relationships—even then though, they sometimes fall back on relying on themselves instead of trusting Ty or Nathan.

Like I said, I don’t have a boyfriend, so I don’t have the security of a promise to love and rely on someone through the good and the bad of life. I trust my best friends with everything in me, but I’ve had too many people fail me to really rely on the fact that they’re here to stay. Even if I did rely on that belief, I still wouldn’t rely on them when making decisions. I mean, I talk things out with them and ask for advice, but at the end of the day, it’s me I rely on. It’s just not who I am. I’ve got a heart full of hope and a head full of nope. I know in my heart that at this point in my life, I’m kind of stuck with the best friends I have, mostly because they’re stuck with me, but in my head, I can’t bring myself to rely on anyone. Why should I? After all, the main reason I hate change is because I hate uncertainty and there’s no better way to live in uncertainty than to rely on someone else to do or be something for you.

So, that’s what I’ve been thinking about the past few weeks. Trust comes in different levels–confidence, faith, trust, and reliance. Most of the time, I have confidence in myself now, but because I’ve failed myself so many times, I find it hard to trust and rely on other people not to fail me. Still though, because I believe in the light, I give them the chance to fail me anyway. I only trust a few people enough to let them into my heart though, and I haven’t found the one person I’ll let myself rely on as much as humanly possible. That’s okay though, because at the end of the day, my confidence comes from the Lord, because He has proved that He is faithful, even when people aren’t, He has proved that I can trust in Him more than I trust in my select few trustworthy humans, and He has proved that even more than my “Ty” or “Nathan,” I can rely on Him without fear of Him failing me, because He will never leave, nor forsake me!