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Scary Movies, Downton Abbey, and My Tender Heart

**Spoiler Alert** If you  haven’t watched the season finale of Downton Abbey, and you intend to do so, don’t read this until you have.

About 7 years ago I stopped watching scary movies. Though I liked the thrill and rush of being scared during the movie, I couldn’t shake the fear for months after I saw one. It was paralyzing and left me checking behind every door and suspecting that even people I knew well may not be who or what they seemed. To this day, I can’t forget some of the horrific scenes from the movies The Cell and Gothika. (I don’t recommend them, btw.)

It was easy for me to stop watching scary movies because I realized my reaction to them wasn’t healthy. It stopped being entertainment, and started to disrupt my life.

On Sunday evening, I watched the season finale of Downton Abbey. After experiencing inappropriate amounts of sadness related to Matthew’s death, I wondered if maybe it is time to abandon television, too.

The thing is, with scary movies and even with DA, my exaggerated emotional responses aren’t just about the loss of the characters. (If it were, I could get over it much more easily.) I’m upset that these things being portrayed in this movie or television program can happen, have happend to people just like you and me. New mothers lose their lives in childbirth. Families are torn apart by car accidents and senseless murders. Children get terminal illnesses.

I’m a very emotional person with an overdeveloped sense of empathy. I envision myself in the shoes (and shirt and jacket and pants…) of the person at the center of the story line. Long after the show/movie/book is over, I keep coming back to it, reliving the highs and lows. After Matthew’s death, I started getting nervous about my husband Mark driving. And to what end?

These programs are causing me to worry, when I know it is senseless to do so. God is in control, and whatever He permits in our lives is for our good.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this. I guess I’m just thinking “outloud,” wondering if I should direct the attentions of my tender heart to something more worthy of such emotions.

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