Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lessons from unlikely places

I must confess a guilty pleasure... I love ordering entire seasons worth of DVDs through NetFlix and watching them one after another while I'm winding balls of yarn for prayer shawls. Right now I'm watching the first season of one of my all-time favorite shows - La Femme Nikita. If you've never heard of it, it's sort of a "Mission Impossible" (the old TV show, not the Tom Cruise movie) meets "Alias", with a touch of "24" thrown in. The story revolves around a female counter-terrorism agent, Nikita. Like Jack Bauer of "24" fame, she's a do-whatever-it-takes-to-get-the-mission-accomplished agent, with a heart of gold underneath that rock hard exterior.

In the episode I watched last night, Nikita was training another agent and trying to help her through a simulation in which she had to shoot-or-be-shot, in rapid-fire succession. The agent was growing increasingly frustrated because she kept getting shot and the harder she tried to avoid getting shot, the more the shots came. Finally Nikita stepped in and did the same simulation herself, also getting shot several times, but making it through the simulation.

As I watched, I had the same initial reaction that the agent-in-training had - why is it that Nikita was getting shot so much when she was clearly a very capable agent? When the test was over, Nikita explained that the point of the exercise was not to avoid getting shot - that was impossible - the test was how you reacted AFTER being shot. In other words, do you give up or do you regroup and keep fighting back?

Interestingly, I've been thinking about that episode a lot since last night and I realized that I'm like that agent-in-training in my own life right now. I'm in the midst of a series of tests, which I liken to those shots that are being fired in rapid succession from multiple directions. The more I try to avoid being shot at, the faster and harder the shots come. I had it wrong - Nikita is right... spiritually, it's not our ability to avoid tests and trials that matters to God, because He's already told us that trials will come in our lives. Instead, it's our ability to get up, dust ourselves off, rearrange that spiritual armor and fight back. As long as I continue to focus on the attacks, the pain they're causing and the seeming "unfairness" of it all, the more they cripple me and stunt my spiritual growth. But when I turn my focus instead from the actual problems to my reaction to them, things don't seem as overwhelming.
So, I no longer feel so guilty about watching tv while I work (LOL). This simple experience has reminded me that life is full of spiritual lessons. It's just up to me to be on the lookout for them. I believe that God is always speaking, in one way or another. It's up to me to make sure that I'm always listening.