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Confessions of a Soap Opera Addict

With only One Life to Live, I didn't want to spend mine in front of the TV.

My name is Lynette, and I was a soap opera addict.

I knew what most Christians think about watching soap operas, so I became a closet viewer. I truly believed that as a Christian I could watch them objectively without being impacted. Besides, didn't they demonstrate that sin and disobedience never paid? And who ever saw a soap opera character who was truly happy with his or her life?

My mother watched the soaps while I was growing up, so I felt as though I knew the characters personally. After all, I'd been through their miscarriages, affairs, divorces (divorces and more divorces!), even amnesia.

It wasn't until I married my husband, Philip, that I discovered I was addicted. He knew I was hooked even before I did, so he challenged me to stop watching them. At first I thought, No problem.Then noon rolled around and my hands started sweating in anticipation of turning on my television set. I realized abstinence was not going to be easy!

I couldn't seem to kick the habit. I even tried to hide it from my husband, but he knew me pretty well. Philip tried several different tactics to free me. His most creative approach? Disconnecting the TV antenna (this was a while ago, keep in mind) so that when I turned on the set, all I saw was static. Being as mechanically minded as I am, it only took me several days to figure out his trick!

But Philip's best approach—the one that eventually actually worked—was encouraging me to have a better daily devotion time. It didn't take long for Scripture to start convincing me, indirectly at first, that I needed a change. The first verse that spoke to me was 1 Corinthians 15:33: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'" Every afternoon I was being entertained by the soap characters' bad company!

Only after I stopped watching soaps did I actually see what an impact they'd had on me!

I still tried to justify my watching soap operas as a moral obligation to stay "in touch" so I could see what the rest of the world was thinking. How else could I relate to people? But Scripture kept speaking to me, so I decided to make a feeble attempt at breaking the habit. I decided to limit my intake to one soap a day, kind of like a "Soap Opera Diet." After all, when a person wants to lose weight, she doesn't starve herself, right? Unfortunately, it wasn't long until one turned into two, then three, and I was back into full swing again.

Almost without realizing it, I started allowing attitudes into my life that didn't come from God—attitudes such as dissatisfaction with my marriage and distrust of my husband. I was influenced by what the "soaps" showed love to be; the glamorous ways men treated women on these fantasy shows caused me to be discontent with my not-so-glamorous husband. Why didn't Philip bring me flowers daily? How many times had he ever planned a special get-away just for the two of us? When was the last time he ever told me I was the most beautiful creature on earth? How did I know he was reallywhere he said he was every day?

The more Scripture I read, the harder it was to justify why I was watching soap operas. The real clincher was when I read James 1:7, in which the apostle talks about being double-minded. If I, as a Christian, was enjoying shows that glamorized life without God, wasn't that being double-minded? And how did God feel about my soap viewing?

As I searched for what God desired in my life, I came across Philippians 4:8: "Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Soaps were everything butthose things, so I knew I had to make a decision that would affect not only me, but my family, too. By watching soaps every day, I was setting a pattern for my five- and three-year-old daughters—one, I realized, I didn't want them to follow.

I went cold turkey. It was difficult at first; I was tempted to cheat and just accidently turn the stations and momentarily see what was happening. I even used to daydream about going shopping in a department store during soaptime and hopefully catching a glimpse of one of the shows on a display television. Could I help it if the store just happened to have one of the shows on and I just happened to see it?I reasoned.

To keep myself busy during the prime soap hours, I planned activities to take me out of my house and away from temptation. Until I built up some resistance, I knew I needed some distance from our remote control. Many days, I loaded up my young daughters and took walks or visited a friend (one, of course, who wasn't watching soaps!).

When my girls' naptimes forced me to stay home, I started listening to music, writing letters, or baking. (We ate a lot of zucchini bread that year.) I even began to take Bible correspondence courses to focus my mind on Scripture. With my dependence on God to help me through this difficult transition, prayer became more of a priority. As I called out to God to strengthen me, I also began to spend more time in prayer for my family and friends.

Eventually my desire to watch soap operas died completely. Only after their influence were removed from my life did I actually see what an impact they'd had on me! All the years I'd watched them, I'd thought I'd been completely unaffected by them, but actually I'd subconsciously been absorbing attitudes. I realized that soaps were full of manipulation. People plotted, schemed, and devised ways to achieve their own selfish desires. Looking at myself, I knew that in some ways I'd absorbed their methods into my own life and actions.

Once the negative input I'd been feeding on was removed, I noticed a "cleaning up" of my own personal attitudes and outlooks. I'm thankful God helped me off the soapbox and into his Word, the cleansing soap of life!

Lynette Kittle is a freelance writer.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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