Among tv sitcoms, The Office is a gem.
Two of my best friends finished watching the series Saturday night. I loved seeing their reactions to the highs and lows of the Scranton paper company, and I was reminded how powerful the final episodes of the series are. But I was especially encouraged as I watched Jim and Pam.
(Heads up, spoilers will be coming, so you might want to cut out now if you haven’t finished watching the show.)
Jim and Pam’s relationship was compared to a fairy tale in the show’s finale, and that comparison fits fairly well. The two overcome a number of obstacles to even begin a relationship, and their journey doesn’t get easier once they start dating. But their love carries them through every bump in the road, every test of their commitment. They seem to have a flawless relationship. Then season nine arrives.
In the ninth and final season, Jim and Pam’s marriage hits an extremely rough patch. As the story advances, Jim begins working part time at Dunder Mifflin to begin a new business in Philadelphia, leaving Pam and the two kids to hold down the fort in Scranton. Distance and exhaustion take their toll on the couple, and the two who once seemed so in sync struggle to genuinely communicate. As trouble continues to build, the two appear to be in danger of separating. Yet when things seem hopeless, dry, and dead, the couple jolts back to life. After many episodes of struggle, Jim and Pam break through the wall separating them and begin to regain that old spark that seemed lost in an earlier season.
As I watched their story again, I appreciated how real everything was. Granted, the show is fictional; I get that. But Jim and Pam’s relationship in season nine showed a very different picture than the ideas of romance that seem so common in stories. Their story showed the reality of difficulty, the availability of temptation, and the need for humility and sacrifice in marriage. Pam even specified in the finale that their relationship didn’t always feel like a fairy tale, that there were times of pain and struggle, but that fighting through the difficulty is worth it.
As we approach Valentine’s Day, romance may take center stage, and that’s perfectly fine. But I want to highlight the story, albeit fictional, of a couple who fought for their family when it wasn’t the romantic choice. I want to highlight the example they set for staying faithful to each other even when backing out may have appeared easier. I want to thank the writers of the show for showing the beauty of commitment even through the storms of life.
As Jim and Pam embraced in the parking lot of their office building, select verses from 1 Corinthians 13 were heard as scenes from their wedding episode were shown.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7
This is love. And the beauty of love in this tv show is a shadow of the ultimate display of love in history. Love, seen beautifully in a man’s sacrifice for his wife, is shown perfectly in Christ’s sacrifice for the people of God.
As much as I love The Office, I want to recognize the greater truth it reflects, expressed in texts such as John 3:16 and Romans 5:8 and revealed in books such as 1 John. Let us who know the originator of love always be people of love. Let us always follow Christ in our faithfulness. Let us always reflect Christ in our humility. And let us proclaim the excellence of our loving God to all we meet.