Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV
It was only a matter of time. Two or three episodes into my new TV fave&crave, When Calls the Heart, I could have told you I ultimately would blog about it. My reaction to the series has been both enthusiastic and multilevel. Check out my tweets and my new Facebook cover photo that’s a screenshot of Constable Jack Thornton in silhouette, looking very picturesque on horseback against a colorful evening sky. Yes, I am gladly calling myself a “Heartie” now!
Considerable credit for my viewing delight belongs to Erin Krakow, whose portrayal of Coal Valley’s young schoolteacher Elizabeth Thatcher is comical, poignant, and enchanting. As I tweeted, #IWantToBeElizabethThatcher. And of course there is handsome and heroic Jack, the red-coated Mountie, played by Daniel Lissing. The setting in a community where faith in God is readily talked about, the themes championing virtues and values like education, hard work, dependability, family and friendships – these have me comparing When Calls the Heart to Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.
There’s more I could say about this series as I binge-watch seasons 1 and 2 in order to catch up – for example, the heart-tugging episode where an older student with dyslexia is helped by three-dimensional dough shapes of letters in the form of objects starting with those letters (a C with a cat’s face on one end, a letter A with the features of an arrow). But the angle I want to focus on just now is the device of having episodes conclude with the main character debriefing her recent experiences by writing thoughtful reflections in her journal. You may recall John-Boy Walton doing the same at a writing desk in front of his second-story bedroom window.
I am not a daily journaler, but I often process unusual or stressful events by writing about them. Sometimes that writing is a hasty text message with various emoticons for emphasis. Other times, serious paragraphs result, like those I shared with a new confidant this week – a woman I chose to trust with the details of two disturbing personal encounters I had on consecutive days. If my reality was skewed at all by fictional scenes of Elizabeth Thatcher being in distress at the hands of a “bad guy” and being rescued in a very tangible way by Jack, I nevertheless had some honest-to-goodness justification for feeling vulnerable and in need of a protector.
So, my John-Boy Walton/Elizabeth Thatcher-esque journal entry summarizing this “episode” of my real life goes like this:
If you find yourself suddenly feeling you are in an unsafe place (literally or figuratively) with a stranger or an acquaintance, then you probably are. Trust your instincts. As my confidant said, ‘If the hairs on my arm go up, there’s a reason for it.’ Don’t overreact, but get to a safe place. As children we were told that if a stranger made us uncomfortable, we were to tell a trusted adult about it. The same is true for us as adults; we aren’t expected to face our fears alone just because we’re over 21. Finally, while I hope each of us has family members or friends we see as our protectors – in addition to knowing that law enforcement is just a phone call away (a blessing we do not ever need to under-appreciate), let us not forget about our ultimate Protector. Psalm 91 offers phrase after phrase describing the strength and the reliability of God as Protector to those who make Him their dwelling place.
The person whose counsel I sought (in addition to telling my husband) offered me reassurance and humor, and she asked, “Doesn’t life just always bring us the most interesting things?” It seems she has learned to see obstacles as opportunities and to navigate trials with grace, seeing each one as a new reminder of God’s sovereignty and sufficiency.
I’m no great living example of what James 1:2 prescribes, but I can’t deny experiencing a brief wave of joy as I decided that God had every aspect of my two awkward encounters under His control and that He allowed me not only to be reminded of the need for general caution and reserve in unknown waters, but also to know the blessing of conversation and counsel from someone I knew of, but now know better than I did before. And, here’s a nice bonus: I guarantee you some of my feelings and reactions will land, in some form, in my current novel. Sweet.