Editor’s Note: This week, Melody introduces herself and—if you scroll down—she offers a personal review of TV’s This Is Us.
Where did you grow up and how did you end up here? I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri as a pastor’s kid. When my dad passed away when I was 12, my mom remarried a man who lived out in Phoenix so we moved here! You may know my stepdad as Pastor Bob:).
What’s your job? I am a third grade teacher at Madison Camelview Elementary.
Why are you at Roosevelt? I am at Roosevelt because I am grateful for the diverse family and vision of the church: All People, All Jesus.
How long have you been here? I have been involved at Roosevelt for about 12 years, since 2007 (but I took a hiatus in Flagstaff for college).
How long have you been a Christian? I grew up in the church as a pastor’s kid, so I have always known Jesus, but I started a personal relationship with God soon after my dad passed away.
What are your hobbies? I enjoy hiking with friends, camping/backpacking, traveling, and occasionally I paint water color cacti.
What is your favorite book? Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
What is your favorite movie? The Princess Diaries, forever.
This is Us, A Review
Being a Milo Ventimiglia fan (because Gilmore Girls), I had to check out the trending TV show, This is Us, when it came out. After a few episodes, I quickly drew some connections from the Pearson family to my own. Growing up, my dad was also the center of our family. He drew everyone together and prioritized family above all else. He created special memories for us in simple ways at the park by playing kickball, and around the family dinner table by playing Aggravation. And among friends, he always made them feel valued, important, and included in a friendship that felt more like family . . . much like Jack Pearson.
My dad passed away suddenly of a heart attack when I was 11 years old. Our family and community quickly had a giant hole in our lives that felt irreplaceable and irreparable. It was not without tears that I watched the scene where the Pearson kids are sobbing uncontrollably, watching their house burn, and are picturing life without their dad. Waking up each day as a child and being reminded that you no longer have your dad in your life — that feeling of loss is so strong and all encompassing. It is hard to get away from and I don’t believe you ever truly “move on.”
So it is an interesting plot point to me that This is Us follows a family dealing with the slow trickle down of grief over the span of their adult lives. My husband argues, “You have such an emotionally taxing job, so why are you spending your time watching such a sad and depressing show?” But I appreciate the way this show can take its audience into the hidden and public feelings, reflections, and honest struggle of the Pearson kids in their individual grieving journeys. I would argue, as a Christian, that this show can bring a healthy understanding of what grief is like outside the hope of Christ. That insight might be able to help Christians in their relationships with nonbelievers as they experience grief and suffering.
Like Jack Pearson, my dad was a joyful, enthusiastic, positive, and goofy who brought so much life and color into my childhood. It has been difficult to get through days, weeks, months, and years without him. But holding on to my faith in Jesus and His work on the cross, holding on to my hope in eternal life for those who believe in Him, was the difference between my life experience and that of the Pearson family. Each child has his or her own way of coping with feelings and grief. It seems like people often turn to vice just to suppress their feelings rather than experience and process them. In the show, Kevin turns to alcohol, Kate turns to overeating, and Randall tries to control every detail of his life to maintain order and the appearance of perfection. This is a great example of grief without hope. It is frustrating to watch the destruction and chaos they create in the show just from a lack of processing grief together. But even if they processed it, talked about it, and went to a counselor, there would still be no hope that they would see their dad again.
I enjoy watching This is Us and, after watching, I like to process the events with friends. As a believer, I think it is helpful to watch the show and contrast the world’s view of processing grief with the hope we have in Christ. If you have not experienced grief and loss yourself, it is also great insight into what people in your lives might be going through. Grief will never leave you, but it is something that, as believers, we have a great way to “cope” through Jesus. I ache for my friends who do not know Jesus and are experiencing loss. I’d like to think I am a great listener, but at the end of the day, our friends need the hope of the Gospel. Do you have any personal connections to This is Us?