One of the most beautiful monologues (and our first look into Randall’s life) is when Randall has located his biological father and goes to see him. After he knocks on the door he tells his father:
My name is Randall Pearson. I’m your biological son. I’m 36 years old. Thirty-six years ago you left me at the door of the fire station. Don’t worry, I’m not here because I want anything from you. Because I was raised by two incredible parents and have a wonderful family of my own. The car you see parked out in front of your house cost $143,000 and I bought it for cash. I Bought it for cash because I felt like it and because I can do stuff like that. You see, I’ve turned out pretty alright, which might surprise a lot of folks considering the fact that thirty-six years ago my life started with you leaving me on a fire station doorstep with nothing more than a ratty blanket and a crap filled diaper. I came here today so I can look you in the eye, say that to you, and then get back in my fancy car and prove to myself and to you and to my family who loves me that I didn’t need anything from you even after I knew you were.” In that moment, the audience believes that Randall can handle everything on his own. It is his self-sufficiency that is enough for him to live his life apart from his father. His father replies, “you want to come in?” Randall quickly says okay.
It is easy to put a wall up when someone has wronged us. If anyone had an excuse to harbor unforgiveness, it’s Randall. Yet he tears down that wall in order to enjoy the last few moments he has with his father.
The Bible is clear: if we don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you. Sometimes it is easier said than done but it is possible. No matter what has happened to you, it is possible to get past that pain, forgive those wrongdoers and walk in freedom.
Doesn’t that sound wonderful? It is, and you can do it.
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15
I know direct people can be harsh sometimes. Hearing something that is difficult to hear is never easy and can put further strain on a relationship. But people who care enough to point out when you are on the wrong path are a gift from God.
Yes, a gift.
Randall says what is on his mind when he first meets his father He intended it to be harsh, but instead it allows a new relationship blossom between the two. Kate tells Toby the hard things like she has to put herself and her goal to lose weight ahead of love and it results in Toby chasing after her on Christmas only to collapse and have heart surgery to fix the physical (and maybe the spiritual) aspects of his life. Rebecca and Jack say what they need to say and it results in an official separation between the two.
Sometimes the results of telling someone what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear is a loving gesture because it helps them get back on the right track. It is similar to a gardener that prunes his branches. In order for growth to occur, dead leaves and weeds must be clipped so it doesn’t impede the good fruit that will result. It is a gesture that affirms that the person is putting your wellbeing ahead of his/her own need to be liked and approved. Both of these ideas need to be present to speaking the truth.
I know I have had to speak the hard truth into other’s lives. Sometimes it results in a person becoming better and maturing in their spiritual walk as a result. Other times, I have lost relationships and friendships. It’s never easy to grieve the lost of a friendship after telling someone something difficult and it often comes at the cost of losing a friend. But the reward of watching someone become better because of the pruning needs to be done is priceless.
have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.- Ecclesiastes 1:14
Kevin, a 36- year-old actor, is tired of the Hollywood life. Meaningless sex, superficial acting jobs and the single life had taken its toll. Desperate to find a job that bring meaning to his life, Kevin struggles to find someone that will believe in his work. But finding that person is harder to find than he thought. His Manny director says, “Kevin, I know you care about the character, and I also know that you are a thirty- something actor whose biggest role previously was a three episode arc on Nashville. So say the line or find another job. Because believe me when I say that I’ll have you replaced by Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds or any other handsome Ryan faster than the time it takes for you to get to your car. Trust me, my ratings will go up.”
Unfortunately, Kevin knows the void he feels in his life did not come overnight, but rather when he was a child:
“You know where it all went wrong for me? It was 1986. They were sending The Challenger in space. Do you remember the Challenger? Christa McAuliffe… she was going to be the first teacher in space, right? She was going to change the world. I don’t know how, but at least in second grade you could feel that. The middle of the school day the teacher brings in a TV. We’re all sitting there watching the launch, right? We’re all just sitting there. A bunch of seven- year- olds just watching and then boom! The whole thing just explodes. Little pieces of sweet Christa McAuliffe all came raining down on the state of Florida. It was awful. Maybe that was when I realized trying to change the world just leads to being blown up into little pieces all over Florida. Maybe that’s how I wound up as the Manny.”
Kevin wants his work to matter. He wants to make a difference in people’s lives, not produce superficial fluff that is only for cheap entertainment. He chases after this in his work and in his love relationship. Later in the season, we learn that Kevin had a wife whom he cheated on and he is working hard to reconnect with her. However, a call from Ron Howard makes him question if he should take a job on a new movie or stay to work on his relationship with Sophie. Will he receive the love he desperately seeks? Will he create meaningful work for his fans to enjoy?
Do you ask these questions too? We all do. God has a plan and wants you to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. What do you need to do to find that meaningful love and create the meaningful work you desire?
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.- Matthew 14:16-20
Rebecca’s life since she has met Jack has been about taking leaps of faith. Recently rejected from a music producer, but not wanting to give up her dream of singing, she takes a chance on love and meets Jack. Adamant she doesn’t want kids, she becomes pregnant after a tryst in a bar bathroom after the Super Bowl. Presented with an opportunity to sing again, she takes it only to have to put it on hold once again after Jack’s addictions become an issue.
Sometimes a leap of faith yields great rewards. Other times we wind up falling flat on our faces. But taking a leap of faith when we believe Christ is doing something in our lives is always a success. Too often we evaluate success based on how much money we make, how much education we have received or how many accolades we get from others. But to God, being obedient I the small things allows God to multiply our efforts for his glory. In this passage, Jesus asks them to give him what little they have. Because of their willingness to give Him what they had, he in turn is able to multiply enough to feed every person present—and still have some leftover!
In what area of your life do you need to take a leap of faith? Is it in your finances? Is it to pursue a ministry and give up your lucrative career? Is God asking you to take a leap of faith on someone whom God is calling you to marry?
Give what little faith you may have. Take a leap and meet Jesus, in whatever he is calling you to do. He will take and multiply that faith into an area that will change lives for His glory.
Sibling rivalry is nothing new. From Cain and Abel to Joseph and his brothers, jealousy and brothers go hand in hand. It’s no surprise to see the Pierson brothers be jealous of each other. This is displayed between the brothers as early as eight years of age. The first glimpse we get is when Randall and Kevin get off the bus to go to school. The kids call Randall “Webster” and Kevin has to make a choice between defending his brother and being accepted by his friends. He chooses to join in, wounding his brother and driving a wedge between them. This continues as they fight over having their own space and spills over into their adult lives where Randall has never seen an episode of his brother’s comedy and Kevin can’t tell Randall what he does for a living. They barely speak and when they do it is to help Kevin in a crisis. This all comes to a head when Kevin sees that a black actor has replaced him on his TV show. “Replaced by another black guy,” he says. Another fight ensues where words turn into fists, culminating in a scene where they are both sitting in the car. Randall says to Kevin, ““You are right. Mom did favor me. She showered me with attention and took my side more times than not and I ate every bit of it up. I ate it up like Kevin. You want to know why? Because the one person that I wanted to hear from it the most…”
Just like Cain and Abel were fighting over God’s love and approval, so Randall and Kevin were still fighting first for their parents’ approval and then each other’s approval. Little did they know that Randall and Kevin already had their father (and earthly fathers approval.) They didn’t have to do anything to earn it.
Are you fighting for a family member’s approval? Perhaps you are still struggling to find you role within your family dynamic. Maybe the roots of sibling rivalry have made their way into your family. Whatever the case, you don’t have to live that way anymore.
Your heavenly father loves you the way you are. You don’t have to do anything to earn His approval. His approval came when He created you in His son’s image.
Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace.- Psalm 37:37
Have you ever wanted a do over in life? Have you made mistakes you want to erase? The characters from This Is Us can relate. Kevin wants a do- over in his relationship with Sophie as well as in his career. Jack wants to take back his last drunken binge and his push for Rebecca to tell him he is enough. Kate wants a do over in her quest to lose weight. Randall wants a do over with his dad.
It may seem like your past has already dictated your future, that whatever has happened has already closed the book on your life. Yet with God, there is always a chance for a do over. Here are some things you can do to make sure you get a chance to rewrite your past:
Repent- the best way to earn that do-over is to turn away from sinful choices and walk towards the right choices. Do you need to ask for forgiveness from God? Is there someone you have to apologize or make amends with someone but you are too stubborn to do so? Tomorrow is never promised. Take the opportunity to say what you need to say to your loved ones today.
Live in Community- how will you know what path to take towards repentance without mature people around you? So often we think we should live the Christian life alone. Yet from Genesis to Revelation, people are put two –by- two so they came to rely on each other. Who do you have to rely on to help walk with you in life?
Walk in the Light- 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” God is all light, In Him there is no darkness. God knows all of our sin, but if we try to keep it hidden, we deceive ourselves. By confessing everything to the Lord and having an accountability partner we can walk in the light and change our future.
Your story is not over; there are still chapters unwritten. You may not be able to change the past, but you can change your future Do what you need to do to change your past and inevitably your future.
Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment...”- Matthew 22:36
Randall had a good life. Adopted by two wonderful people. Put in a good school so he can reach his potential. Became a successful weather commodities trader (whatever that is.) Married a wonderful, strong woman. He’s a father to two great kids. He had everything at his fingertips. He even found his biological father and opened his home to him after he abandoned him as a baby.
At the end of season one, we learn Randall wants to adopt a child, to pay forward the love he received as a child. But there is some difficulty with this. Beth, his wife, is unsure she wants to go through with this. He asks his mom how she knew adoption was right for her. In gut wrenching honesty, she tells him her husband kept pushing her and telling her it is the right decision. He was right, but it took her a long time to realize that.
Paying forward the kindness, love and kindness you have received is not easy. In fact, you may pay it forward to someone who doesn’t deserve kindness, or love. But paying those attributes forward helps make the world a better place.
Paying it forward takes work.
But because of it, you’ll be better.
And everyone else will too.
Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.- James 4:14
Despite the fact he was only in Randall’s home for a short time, William took time to enjoy the little things in life. He had daily conversations with the mailman who delivered the mail. We realize this when the mailman asked Randall, “Is your father ok?” when Randall responds he had passed away, the mailman tearfully explains, “when I didn’t see your dad on his daily walk, I got worried.” People within his Narcotics Anonymous meetings also asked about him and were devastated when he passed. Randall, on the other hand, receives a generic typed card signed “The team” and a case of pears (of which he is deathly allergic.) Randall realizes he has spent so many years of his life dedicated to a company who don’t know him anymore than they did ten years ago.
William enjoyed the little things in life. Donning his favorite hat, he’d walk in his neighborhood saying hello to he neighbors and taking an interest in their lives.
This is one way in which William transforms Randall’s life. Randall is learning that the most impotent things in life are not things but rather the people that surround you as you go throughout life.
What are the little things in life you are missing—the little flowers that pop up by your home. A moment to play fetch with your dog. Enjoying the laughter of a baby. These are the moments that are fleeting yet make life so much more enjoyable. When we take our last breath, it won’t be the degrees hanging on our wall or the large savings account we will reflect on, but the memories we are lucky enough to have made during the fleeting moments that comprise our lives. Make the most of them.
May we all have the same impact William had on the people in his life.
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.-1 John 3:16
From the first episode, Jack is a man who is willing whatever is necessary to protect his family. From remaining optimistic when his wife goes into labor to putting his dreams on the back burner, Jack’s life revolves around making sacrifices. Jack served in Vietnam, and fixes neighbor’s cars for pennies. He dreams about owning his own construction company. But after he meets Rebecca and the demands of having a family takes its toll, he sacrifices his dreams to buy a house for his family.
Often life demands we make sacrifices, too. In fact, Jesus was someone who made the ultimate sacrifice for us so we could have life. Making sacrifices for those we love emulates Christ more powerfully because it is a part of His nature.
As a mom, I understand what it’s like to make sacrifices. I often have to put down what I am doing because my husband or kids need me. It’s deflating and often frustrating when I have to put myself aside for the sake of others. But the life of a Christian means a life of sacrifice. Jack appears to take his sacrifices in stride.
Rebecca, on the other hand, has also made sacrifices. But her resentment boils over when she finally takes time for herself and pursues the singing career she put on hold once she became pregnant. During their big fight at the season finale, Rebecca confesses that simply being a mom and a wife were not enough for her. Jack reciprocates his frustration by getting her to admit she feels this way.
Sacrifices should come with no strings attached. Sacrifices should be made out of love and an attentiveness to others’ needs rather than your own. An action done out of guilt or necessity is not a sacrifice.
Analyze the sacrifices you have made in your life. Were they done out of guilt or need? Or were they done out of love and selflessness?
If there was ever a time I loved This is Us more, it is when they had Sly Stallone (AKA Rocky, one of my favorite movie characters of all time) guest star this season. From telling Kate she was the next Adrian to having a heart-to-heart chat with Kevin, Sly is loved and embraced by the This is Us community too. One of the most memorable quotes from this episode is when Kevin refers to the death of his father as "being a long time ago." Sly, in a warm yet challenging moment says, "In my experience. there is no such thing as a long time ago. There are only memories that mean something and memories that don't." Such powerful and true words.
It is obvious Kevin is suppressing his grief over losing his father. Whether he is directly (or indirectly) responsible for his father's death (as implied by the last scene of the first episode of the season where the camera lingers on Kevin's leg clearly in a cast) remains to be seen, but we as viewers are well aware that Kevin's denial of his loss will prove detrimental to his future, and may have played a role in his past transgressions.
Which begs the question: are there any memories you are repressing and telling yourself it was a long time ago? What memories mean something to you, and which ones do you dismiss as being a long time ago? Do you think your repression has proven a detriment to your emotional and spiritual well being? As you recall memories from your past, have you fully dealt with the emotions tied to them? Like Sly said, there's no such thing as a long time ago. Putting off your emotional pain can cause a rift in the health of your future.
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