Reel Life: Derek and the Joy of being Pure in Heart

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Release Date: 2012

Cast: Ricky Gervais, Kerry Godliman, David Earl.

IMDB Synopsis: With Derek, Ricky Gervais forays back into comedy with a sensitive format that sheds awareness along its humorous path. Styled in mockumentary fashion, Derek is the story of a man who works in a British nursing home, helping to care for its residents. While Derek could be said to suffer somewhat, lacking in some mental faculty, this remains debatable throughout. The story takes place primarily within the nursing home, yet does venture beyond those walls into the world of the norm. The character subjects vary from typically aged to otherwise different-from-norm. Derek’s primary colleague is Hannah, who has apparently worked in the home for some time and exhibits great care toward her subjects.

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A dear friend recently introduced me to the BBC series Derek with the following information, “It’s all about kindness.” Well, of course, I was intrigued. I mean, what shows do we normally see which focus on the subtle strength that is kindness.

As I sat down to watch it, practically every episode had me on the verge of tears. There were two episodes where I may have actually cried like a small child! There were poignant lines and heart touching moments galore! Of course, it is British television…so the language and content was inappropriate in other places. However, to this girl, the heart of the show could be summed up in Derek’s own words, “Kindness is magic.”

One cannot watch this show without loving Derek. His sense of humor, his unfailing optimism, and his willingness to always see the good in others makes you wish that you were friends with him in real life! He possesses the spirit of a child, always excited for tomorrow while exceptionally thankful for today. As I followed this rag tag group of friends through two seasons, it struck me that Derek is simply “pure in heart.”

His friend Hannah describes him as being “too good for his own good.” He is quick to love, quick to trust, quick to hope, and quick to forgive. He always sees the best in people, most often the same people that the world rejects. He serves others without thought to himself. He refuses to focus on the bad that this world sometimes has to offer. Pure in heart.

Those three words have been a huge theme in my life as of late, coming up everywhere I look. In my most recent Children’s Church lesson, we taught on the Beatitudes. In Matthew 5:8, you read those familiar words, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.” I have been thinking about that a lot lately, and I have come to an important conclusion.

Do you want to know why I believe the pure in heart will see God on the other side of eternity? Because they SEE God everywhere on this side. The pure in heart see God in every moment, every person, every struggle, every song, every breath, every thing. They see His hope, His love, His justice, and His glory acted out in the mundane and the ordinary.

One of Derek’s friends, Kev, is not a stand up guy. Inappropriate, drunk constantly, and just a mess, Kev spends most of the show performing cringe-worthy antics. Everyone around him thinks he is a loser. Only Derek believes in the person he could be, seeing a goodness hidden under layers and layers of booze and brokenness. And would you believe it, near the end of the second season, Kev performs one selfless act, one good deed that shocks them all…with the exception of Derek. Kev knows that he is flawed. He knows that he has been lazy and taken too many shortcuts in his life. He comments that Derek, however, took the only shortcut that works: Kindness.

This sort of kindness, this sort of purity in heart does act like a shortcut. When relationships and life get rough, it shortens the gap between us and others. It helps us cut past the fortresses and the wounds to the heart. I also believe that it makes the distance we sometimes feel between us and our Heavenly Father oh-so much shorter! He can’t seem distant if we see Him everywhere we look!

So, this has been my prayer as of late, “Lord, make me pure in heart.” I want to see Him everywhere– in every meeting, every child’s smile, and every conversation.. When I look back on days passed, let me be able to say that I saw Him in the most mundane moments. Let me be able to say that I saw His heart for others. Let me be able to say that kindness, gentleness, and love were my only shortcuts through this life.

Let me be pure in heart.

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