Since I haven’t taken the time to wire up my totally awesome 10 year old, tube TV with the curved screen to the DTV box, my wife and I tend to watch quite a bit of Netflix (and no we didn’t go for that Quickster crap either). One night when trolling the new TV show releases we found this show “Life Unexpected” that looked interesting and we started watching (The one negative of TV shows on Netflix is that most of them are not being made anymore so you end up getting into something that only has 26 episodes which you’re already halfway through…)
The whole story of the show is based around a male and a female who had a “one night stand” in high school; the girl got pregnant and decided to give the baby up for adoption. Well, like 16 years later this girl tracks down her father and mother seeking “emancipation.” Due to some medical problem early in her childhood, she was never adopted and had been bounced around the foster system. Long story short the birth parents (who were not a couple) are given joint custody of the daughter after she flops at her “emancipation” hearing.
Sure enough, like any good drama, there’s a love triangle, and this one is between the birth mom, the birth mom’s boyfriend, and the father who’s suddenly back in the picture and brings back old feelings. So there’s this back and forth drama in multiple episodes about who loves who, who is “meant” for each other, blah, blah, blah. Well, finally the mom and the boyfriend –turned –fiancé get married—only before the wedding the father is struggling with feelings for the mom, who herself is struggling with feelings for the father. Well, conveniently neither one is willing to admit it to the other, yet the day of the wedding the mom sits in the church with her daughter unsure of her desire to marry the other guy. It’s the wise beyond her years daughter who reminds her mom that just as she had this fantasy that her parents would marry and they would live happily ever after, these feelings by her mom for her father were also a fantasy. She reminds her mom that “what you have with (the fiancé) is real.” After all, “it’s not having feelings for two people that matters, it’s what you choose to do about them”
The episode comes to an incredible end. Sure enough the father makes one of those dramatic attempts to get to the church to stop the wedding only to get stuck in traffic; he bursts in through the double doors of the church just as they finish their vows. There he stands, there they stand, looking back and forth at each other; we see the father’s desperation, the groom’s bewilderment, and the bride’s... Well, we’re not sure—until she turns, looks at the groom, and kisses him. What’s captured in that shot is nothing short of spectacular.
More powerfully than my words can ever express, the images display that love is ultimately a choice. By turning away, by looking at her groom, by initiating the kiss the bride showed that despite whatever feelings she may have had, she was going to CHOOSE to love this man. It’s quite beautiful.
What struck me was how counter-cultural this episode was, for feeling are equated with love in our entertainment culture; love is something that just happens, it’s almost accidental—“I fell for you.” Feelings are almost always portrayed to be this overpowering force which can’t be defeated (Seredipity) and happen suddenly (Failure to Launch, The Proposal). Oh, and that cliché of running into the church almost always works (Made of Honor). Yet this episode demonstrated clearly and powerfully that love is actually a choice!
This is an important reminder for all of us in marriages or committed relationships. “Feelings” for another will develop and crushes will happen – these same experiences we laugh about from our childhood we take seriously now. It’s Crazy; yet so many of us buy into it every day. “But I felt something, there was a spark;” are we slaves to our feelings? Do we not have a brain?
I would bet that everyone who has ever been in a long-term committed relationship has at one time or another had feelings for another person outside of that relationship. Yet, “it’s not having feelings for two people that matters, it’s what you choose to do about them.” We are presented with a choice, who will we choose to love? We can go after the fantasy or we can stick with what real. Choose wisely.
(If you’d like to watch the episode I’m referring to its season 1 episode 13 of “Life Unexpected” on Netflix. And after watching just that one episode you’ll understand why it’s not still being aired on the CW, it’s not nearly trashy enough for that network!)