Life Expectancy, Part 3
Connie’s world is turned upside down with an unexpected phone call. Whit, Eugene, Wooton, and Penny are there to support her as she figures out what it means to trust God through times of suffering.
At June Kendall's house during the funeral reception, Connie asks Whit what will happen to her mother's house. Mr. Whittaker informs her that it is included in her mother's will and that they need to go over the details of the will. Penny remarks that they could live here instead of in the apartment, but Connie says it's just too much to think about right now. As Penny and Connie continue to talk, a guy walks up and says he's sorry for Connie's loss. Connie thanks him, only to realize that it's Jeff Lewis! They strike up a conversation; Jeff tells her that he became a Christian and that he is also now a pilot. They make plans to catch up later once Connie feels up to it. Penny volunteers Jeff to help put up the chairs with Eugene and Wooton, and as Jeff leaves to go help, he tells Connie that he will be praying for her. Connie cautions Penny (who comments that Jeff seems nice) not to get any ideas.
The next morning, Penny is about to go to work, but feels as if she shouldn't leave Connie alone, and becomes more worried when Connie reveals that she is reading a book about suffering; Connie shoos Penny out the door, claiming that she is just fine. Penny tells Connie not to obsess over her thoughts about suffering and what Jules said to her a few days earlier.
Connie enters Whit's End and begins a conversation with Eugene about suffering and death, and Eugene says he will have to get back to her on that subject because he doesn't have a ready-made answer. He asks Connie why it's so important, and she explains that her curiosity is partly because of Jules's previous comments. Connie leaves Whit's End and goes to J and J Antiques to talk to Jason, who now works there for Jack and Joanne. Jason and Connie go to June Kendall's house to talk about the estate sale, but it quickly morphs into Connie's obsession with suffering. By the time they both leave, she has Jason all worked up and worried about his own father.
When Jason shows up at Whit's End, he is horrified to see his dad lifting a heavy box with Eugene's help and tells Whit that a man his age shouldn't be lifting things. Jason is further horrified to find out that it has been two years since Mr. Whittaker has seen a doctor for a checkup, and begs him to be more careful. Jason finally admits to having had a talk with Connie about suffering, to which Eugene replies that he might have guessed as much. Eugene then quickly leaves Whit's End to have a talk with Connie, and Mr. Whittaker turns to Jason asking what this is all about. Jason hesitates, then asks if he and his dad could talk about his mother and older brother, both of whom have died. Jason and Whit walk off to talk, but we never hear the conversation that happens between them.
Connie, who is now back at her mother's house, is sorting through everything, remarking on how much there is to go through. In pops Wooton, who quickly sees a "Precious Mementoes" salt and pepper shaker set, and Connie gives them to Wooton. Wooton voices his concern that all of this must be hard on Connie, who tries to shrug it off. But Wooton won't let her off the hook that easily and goes on to say that it must be affecting how Connie feels. Connie looks Wooton in the face and corners him about Penny sending him over to check up on her. Wooton can't deny that Penny sent him over, but points out that it's normal to wonder about suffering once someone has lost a loved one. Connie asks what the reason for suffering is, and Wooton replies that it is to remind us how good things are when we aren't suffering. Before Wooton leaves, he offers to take Connie the miniature golf course, but Connie—though she appreciates the thought—declines the offer.
Connie answers another knock and finds Eugene standing on her mother's front porch. Eugene asks show she is doing and Connie replies that she is running out of tissues; to Connie's surprise, Eugene informs her that there is a box of tissues under the sink in the guest bathroom. She asks Eugene how he knew that, and he tells Connie that he and Katrina visited Connie's mother on a number of occasions. Their conversation morphs into the topic of suffering, to which Connie reassures Eugene that she hasn't lost her faith in her reaction to her mom's death—it's just a discussion. Eugene asks if his answer to her earlier question is not needed; she tells him that it isn't, but she is curious as to what he would have said. Eugene explains that when Christ suffered, He redeemed our sufferings to give them meaning and purpose--to bring us closer to Him and to remind us that we are made for greater things than this world.
"He did not die to remove our sufferings—on the contrary, He told us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. In that command, He was telling us that we will indeed suffer, but the suffering could lead us back to God—in the same way His suffering leads us all to God."
Connie asks Eugene if Mr. Whittaker briefed him before he came over. To Connie's shock and amazement, Eugene replies that his wisdom on the subject came not from Whit, but from Connie's mother. When he and Katrina found out they could not have children, they received help and counsel from June, and Connie realizes that she didn't give her mom enough credit for her wisdom and dissolves into tears. Eugene quickly goes to the guest bathroom to retrieve the tissues.
At Whit's End, in Mr. Whittaker's office, Connie is signing a mound of papers, complaining of hand cramps. Whit asks Connie if there is something they need to talk about, alluding to her obsession with suffering, and points out that she's discussed it with Jason, Wooton, Penny, and Eugene, but not with him. Connie tells Whit about her encounter with Jules and her half-sister’s view of life being a "food chain". Mr. Whittaker points out that without God, life is just a food chain—without the Holy Spirit, we cannot grasp the purpose of suffering or even appreciate God's comfort when we suffer. All we can grasp is the pain, and that is meaningless. Mr. Whittaker reassures Connie that she can say a lot of things to Jules, but showing her is better—by being available to her as a friend or even as an older sister. Connie later e-mails Jules, discussing the concept of life as a food chain, and explains that she is willing to be the big sister that Jules hasn't had.
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Heard in episode
|Connie Kendall||Katie Leigh|
|Penny Wise||Kimmy Robertson|
|John Whittaker||Andre Stojka|
|Jeff Lewis||Gary Reed|
|Eugene Meltsner||Will Ryan|
|Jason Whittaker||Townsend Coleman|
|Wooton Bassett||Jess Harnell|
Mentioned in episode
|June Kendall||Connie Kendall|
|Jules Kendall||Connie Kendall|
|Jerry Whittaker||Connie Kendall|
|Jenny Whittaker||Connie Kendall|
|Lily Graham||John Whittaker|
|Katrina Meltsner||Eugene Meltsner|
- VERSION DIFFERENCE: [view] The album version is extended with Jason Whittaker, at J and J Antiques and at Whit's End.
- This episode features the first appearance of Jeff Lewis since #111: “First Love”.
- This is a main episode in The Ties That Bind (Saga).
- Eugene refers to his and Katrina's discovery that they could not have children, which occurred in #706: “To Mend or Repair”.
- The Precious Mementoes salt and pepper shakers are probably a reference to the popular Precious Moments line of ceramics.
Penny Wise: <clears throat>
Connie Kendall: Oh...Penny, Penny, uh...this is Jeff; Jeff, this is Penny. Penny's my best friend and roommate, and Jeff was, well...my first love.
Penny Wise: Ahh...first love.
Jeff Lewis: Well, I guess so.
John Whittaker: You really think you can create an environment that is so secure that I'll never get hurt or sick or die? Look, we either believe we're in God's hands or we don't. Now, which is it?
Jason Whittaker: Good point.
Wooton Bassett: Well, I think it's to make us realize how good things are when we're not suffering.
Connie Kendall: Really?
Wooton Bassett: Sure. It's like, you know when you've been swimming, and you get out and your eyes burn. And you feel kind of cold and half wet and half dry and your bathing suit sticks to your skin. And then you have a nice hot shower and you get into dry clothes and you feel all cozy and comfortable.
Connie Kendall: Yeah.
Wooton Bassett: Well, you couldn't really appreciate the feeling of being cozy and comfortable unless you felt uncozy and uncomfortable first.
Connie Kendall: That's such a Wooton-like answer.
Wooton Bassett: It's almost impossible to answer questions about things like suffering when they’re in the midst of suffering. That's like trying to explain the nature of water to someone who's drowning.
Connie Kendall: You've got a lot of water metaphors going on today.
Wooton Bassett: Yeah, I'm in a rather aquatic mood. When someone's drowning or in pain it's better to help them and show them love than to talk a lot, I think. Though come to think of it, I'm doing a lot of talking right now when I should be taking you to Putter's Miniature Golf.
Eugene Meltsner: When Jesus suffered, he redeemed all of our sufferings. He gave them meaning and purpose to change us, to bring us closer to Him—to remind us that we do not belong to this world, but are made for greater things.
Connie Kendall: Okay...
Eugene Meltsner: He did not die to remove our sufferings. On the contrary, He told us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. In that command, He was telling us that we will indeed suffer, but the suffering could lead us back to God in the same way that His suffering led us all to God.
Connie Kendall: Eugene, did Whit brief you before you came over here?
Eugene Meltsner: No, not at all. Everything I just said came from your mother.
Connie Kendall: My mom said all that?
Eugene Meltsner: Well, I paraphrased, of course.
John Whittaker: No matter what you say, you can't expect her or anyone who doesn't know Jesus to understand how God uses suffering in our lives any more than you could expect a small child to understand the necessary pain of a flu shot or an operation. Children can only trust their parents or doctor, or resent them for causing the pain. Apart from love and trust, what else is there?
John Whittaker: Here's the hard part. No matter how we explain it, without the spirit of God in our hearts, we can't grasp the purpose of suffering, or even appreciate the comfort God gives us when we suffer. All we can feel is the pain. And all we can conclude is that it's meaningless. We're just part of a food chain like Jules said.
Connie Kendall: Then there's nothing I can say to her?
John Whittaker: You can say a lot of things, but showing her is better.