I started watching the '90s sitcom "Friends" for the first time earlier this year. If you know me, you know how much I can't stand Ross and Rachel together (I could write a whole article on the reasons why), and you've probably heard me say the sentence, "I hate 'Friends' but I can't stop watching it," because that's the truth sometimes.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm only in season four, but I think I know enough about each character and about the plot as a whole to draw a few inferences:
Monica has obsessive-compulsive tendencies and an inferiority complex because of her relationship with her mother.
Rachel is incredibly superficial and tends to put her needs before anyone else's.
Ross has anger issues and an insatiable need to be right.
Phoebe practices some kind of weird paganism.
Chandler's a porn addict.
Joey's a moocher.
They're all so incredibly flawed, and I spent several episodes' worth of my time focusing in on that, in awe of how this show could possibly have been so successful when all these people do is vacillate between sleeping around, wallowing in self pity, struggling with unemployment and fighting amongst themselves.
But last week, it hit me. It's because, at the end of the day, no matter what happens, these six people are here for each other, and in spite of the fact that they're nearing 30 and aren't where they all likely hoped to be in their lives (hence "your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's DOA"), they love each other. And at the end of the day, that's really all we're put here to do.
When you change your focus and look at the good in each of these people, it's like this:
Even though the romantic relationship between Rachel and Monica's older brother continues to be rocky, Monica continues to give Rachel a place to live, and she continues to feed and entertain her friends despite having a hard time with her job.
Rachel is always the first person to listen to her friends' problems and give them a hug.
Ross continues to maintain a strong, working relationship with his ex-wife for the sake of their son and is still around to be a shoulder to cry on for Rachel, even though they have a volatile past together.
Phoebe always wants the very best for her friends and is constantly the most resilient person on the show. Even though she's experienced her mother's suicide and homelessness at a young age, she has the most giving heart.
Chandler has the best sense of humor of any TV character I know of, and he can find humor in any situation, including his parents' rough divorce when he was a kid.
Joey has been on failed audition after failed audition, but he maintains his passion for acting and is the biggest teddy bear of them all.
Now let's dig a little deeper...
There's a little bit of each of these "Friends" characters in all of us, but there's also a little bit of Jesus. We all have our flaws and our vices, but the God who numbered the stars and knows every thought we have and every action we take sent His son to die on a cross for our sins in the most painful way possible. When we choose forgive the blemishes in others the way our God forgives the very worst in all of us, we're likely to find caring hearts, a listening ears and shoulders to cry on.
I'm going to keep watching "Friends." I'm here for the highs and the lows, and, over 100 episodes in, I've finally figured out what it's all about, so I can't wait to see where it goes from here.