Several years ago, on a news website, there was a blurb about a child star marketing math to girls, and I hesitate to use this word, as sexy. I knew who it was because of something I wrote on July 12, 2006 about this same actress from one of my favorite television shows.
During the past weeks, I spent several nights in motel rooms while traveling the Midwest. One thing I like about motels is that they have cable television, a luxury not found in my apartment. When I was a cable subscriber, there were always interesting shows to watch, even when my schedule couldn't afford it. On vacation, it fit into my relaxation mode. Last week, I caught a documentary on one of those entertainment networks. The program dealt with famous childhood actresses and the struggles they faced in growing up in the spotlight's glare. I was particularly fascinated by the insights of Danica McKellar who starred as Winnie Cooper in the series, The Wonder Years. Now past thirty and a UCLA graduate in math, McKellar lamented going through adolescence in front of a national audience. She told how her first kiss ever was in a scene with co-star Fred Savage, also thirteen, and how the film crew was more concerned with their schedule than a pivotal moment in her life. As the interview progressed, McKellar also made the point that some guys who courted her weren't really interested in her. They had a crush on Winnie Cooper, her Wonder Years' persona. They didn't like her but they liked who she pretended to be. Isn't that amazing? They preferred someone who didn't exist to someone who did, even though in a sense it was the same person.
We all fall into the Winnie Cooper trap at times. An actress follows a script, reciting words that are not her own. If she makes a mistake, the scene is re-shot or edited. The lighting and sets are controlled by others. And yet, we think we know the person, even though intellectually we know it is staged. We fall for an image we find attractive. Then, when we see close up, we find ourselves disappointed because the reality is never airbrushed as the make believe is. Most people disguise themselves at the beginning of a friendship or relationship. Like the studios, we can stage things to our advantage, afraid of what others might think if they saw what we see when we gaze in the unadulterated reflection of a mirror. We don't have to recast ourselves for the Lord. We can't fool him- he created us. He loves us whether we are in character or, dropping the pretenses, playing the role he wrote just for us. I had a strange sensation returning to my hometown in Nebraska. Only one person recognized me without advanced knowledge. Our Heavenly Father knows who we are. We don't have to give him clues. Psalm 139:15-16 phrased it perfectly:
"My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written for me before they came to be."
I can lose myself in my various roles as teacher or coach or part-time minister but at the curtain call, I'm just Steve. Hopefully, that's good enough for the audience in the theater of my life. If I play myself well, that's all that matters.
Applicable quote of the day:
"We get so much in the habit of wearing disguises before others that we finally appear disguised before ourselves."
Francois de la Rochefoucauld
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