Marriage · Television

Thank You, Madam

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A miracle has happened for the second time. Todd and I have dialed in on a TV series that we both enjoy. At the same time. This may be overstating miracle status, but still, when most forms of entertainment require one of us to take one for the team, I get fairly excited.

What I’m saying is that Madam Secretary is the bomb and Elizabeth and Henry McCord are the fire. Not since Parenthood’s Adam and Kristina Braverman, have a TV couple pulled us both so completely into their story.

Here are a few details. IMDb describes the storyline as “a look at the personal and professional life of a Secretary of State as she tries to balance her work and family life.” Tea Leoni plays the Secretary of State. She’s gorgeous and classy in a sloppy way and yet you always see that the struggle is real to keep it all together. Henry McCloud is her hunky hubs who teaches theology at Georgetown, is an ex-marine and undercover NSA op. Stop and pause on what that little resume looks like:

I know, right?

The attraction to this story may seem weird because I hate politics. But this show is more about the workings of a healthy marriage under stress, parenting teenagers in the spotlight, and managing difficult work relationships. And its smart so I feel like I learn a little while laying on the couch. Bottom line? The writers are giving us a good story with an excellent cast. Complex world negotiations and confrontations happen to be the context.

Last night we caught up on this week’s episode and it has me thinking about the power of asking questions. In a nutshell, the US was on the brink of war with Russia because of an attack on Air Force One that EVERYONE THOUGHT they were responsible for. Elizabeth was to deliver a speech to the United Nations accusing Russia when the situation became less certain as they once believed.

Throughout the episode Madam Secretary did something that is so simple yet unbelievably hard to do. She stopped the train of forward motion, paused and began asking hard questions. She called the Chinese ambassador in and flat out asked him, “Did you guys do it?” She asked her staff, “What if we are wrong?” She confronted her husband. In humility, she swallowed her pride and put her job in jeopardy by canceling the speech until answers were more clear.

And she basically kept the world from going to war.

Although my questions won’t ever stop a global war, they might just cause me to avert wars within my little world. Its crazy how difficult this is to practice. When facts have been gathered and the wheels set in motion on a decision, pride makes us blind to new information if it threatens momentum.  Pride makes us deaf to warning signals that may come up along the way.

We just keep going with a decision because pausing to give attention to the questions knocking at the door can be embarrassing, risky and just too much trouble.

We often quote Andy Stanley’s best question ever at our house: “What is the wise thing to do?” It may be to simply pause and gain clarity, regardless of the point in the process or how many people are affected or how much crow we have to eat.

My husband is expert at this skill. It ticks me off most times because I like forward progress even if in my gut something says its in the wrong direction. I’ve realized in hindsight, on way too many occasions, that I should’ve asked more questions in the beginning. Rolling down the status quo railroad can lead to disaster if there isn’t someone brave enough to stand up and state they have serious questions.

Thank you, Madam, for the example and good reminder.  We’re deep into season two, but you can catch the first season on Netflix.

(I’m still trying to figure out the legal way to pull pictures off the internet to share. It feels complicated, yet taking pictures of a picture on my computer isn’t the best either. Obviously, still learning!)

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