Life, Salvation History, and NBC’s The Office

What’s the common link between Dunder Mifflin, the Bible, and life?

I know I’m way behind the times, but I finally watched the finale of NBC’s The Office. Maybe before I couldn’t bring myself to see the show end; maybe I didn’t have faith that they could wrap up a story I’d been following for eight seasons, but I finally took the plunge and found myself coming to an incredible closure with the show. Not only did I cry like a baby, but my heart opened to a profound truth.

I haven’t felt like blogging for a while, and it’s largely due to the enormous changes happening in my life. I’ moved away from my childhood home, left family and friends, and embarked on a fresh chapter of my life where the future is completely uncertain. The truth is I’ve never been more scared in my life. I’ve lost sleep to anxiety, wasted time with a hitherto unseen level of procrastination, and generally dropped off the face of the map (to avoid those regions where There Be Monsters). I ask: How can the future be any good? How can I make sense of my past? I give myself hopeless answers to these pointless questions and then stop living so I don’t have to face the present moment. A paradigm shift is long overdue.

The final season of The Office ended with a line that’s reminded me of what it means to be alive.

“I thought it was weird when you picked us to make a documentary. But, all in all, I think an ordinary paper company like Dunder Mifflin was a great subject for a documentary. There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kinda the point?” – Pam Halpert

Truth be told, I’ve spent the majority of my life like a crappy prequel to a Disney Princess movie, waiting for the next riverbend, magic spell or Prince Charming to come along and change things so that I can finally start living life. Today I was reminded of why this kinda misses the whole point.

The storyline of The Office is kinda like the Bible. The Office follows a bunch of horrendously normal (and crazy – and therefore normal) office workers as they show up for a 9-5 job at a smallish paper company. Scripture likewise follows a small, insignificant, bickering ethnic minority with their clannish squabbles and ridiculous shenanigans as God leads them, slowly and gently, forward through history. And the Christian side of the story begins in a backwater hamlet called Bethelehem, where the power of Caesar is challenged by a pregnant woman and her arranged-marriage husband who can only afford a feeding trough for their newborn.

My life – and your life – is kinda like The Office, and also just somewhat like Scripture. It’s a simple story about simple people in the real world who mostly sin, suffer, and make fools of ourselves. And for some reason we miss the point. This sinfulness, suffering, and foolishness is so incredibly beautiful, but we get myopic.

And the truth is I don’t know how to express what I want to express here. I started this post in a rush of enthusiasm, but I’m realizing that I’m not a sufficient writer to end it properly. So allow me just one more quick chance to express the thing on my heart right now:

My cousin is getting married soon, and I almost called him up to tell him I’m not going (because I’m afraid of my extended family). I just realized how utterly foolish that is. Life is so short and so beautiful as is, and has to be taken as is. Yes, I will probably get some unsavory comments about my long hair, and my parents will probably pull me aside and berate me for not being able to act macho enough. It’s a small price to pay for being alive, as me, as transgender, as beloved by God. Right now I don’t regret anything in my life. Sure, I hope to sin less in the future because I hope to love God with all my heart, but all the painful closeted moments before this one led to the present, which is where God is. Every breath that I take is sustained by the loving force of an infinite Being who says, every moment, that my life is worth every moment before. And my life may be a small thing, but that only makes it all the more beautiful.

I’m sorry – I don’t think I was at all clear in this post. Just know that your life, at its craziest and most boring, is a love letter from God. The present moment is like a good season finale: it brings closure to the past and the future. I think it’s one of those things that you see or you don’t. It seems trite to tell a person who’s going through a rough patch to “chin up cuz God loves you.” It seems like that’s insufficient to make complete and total sense of life, but it isn’t. The fact of God’s love is more than sufficient. In fact, it’s complete overkill.

Again, sorry. My heart has things to say that simply don’t translate into words. I hope you get the gist nevertheless.

8 thoughts on “Life, Salvation History, and NBC’s The Office

  1. In all its simplicity, your post was really beautiful (I think that was part of the message you where trying to send right?) The part that really struck me was where you said that your life is like a Disney prequel because that’s how I, and I bet most people, have been living their lives, daydreaming and whatnot when all the beauty in our lives passes by unnoticed. Thank you for opening my eyes to that reality. I’ll be praying that everything goes well with your family; you’re brave for even going, so don’t let anything discourage you. Sending blessings your way 🙂

  2. Thanks for this Anna. As with all of God’s messages, yours transcends the spoken word. The essence of the Spirit is felt, making your post completely clear.

  3. a simple life–such a dear thing when your family needs you to be something you cannot be and never were. To show up for an important family life cycle event takes poise and means a lot years later when the smoke clears. If you are out to everybody who matters then you aren’t going to upstage the bride and groom’s big day. Have your ‘elevator speech’ handy for great-Aunt Cynthia and the groom’s obnoxiously drunk former college roommate, and practice this handy answer to the inappropriate question: “That’s a pretty personal subject I’d rather not get into.” And have some champagne.

  4. You were really quite eloquent, as far as I am concerned. It reminds me of the study group I’m in at our parish right now called Consoling the Heart of Jesus. It’s written in contemporary common language encouraging us to come to Jesus from where we are because Jesus comes to us where we are.

  5. Pingback: Life, Salvation History, and NBC’s The Office | TogetherStyle

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