What If ABC's 'Desperate Housewives' Got Religion?

Spiritual direction for the wild and wacky women of Wisteria Lane

BY: Teresa Blythe


One reason ABC-TV's hit Sunday night drama, Desperate Housewives, is so frequently described as a "guilty pleasure" is that desperation--suffering from unbearable need or anxiety--is a spiritual state we know all too well. Watching these four housewives stumble around in it is amusingly familiar. As a spiritual director--someone who helps people search out where God is present and active in their lives--I sometimes see people in desperate situations, longing for change and wondering where God is in the midst of their brokenness and anxiety. So I feel for these housewives.

Of course, the women of Wisteria Lane haven't asked for spiritual direction. But if they did, what could I offer them so that they might progress from being 'desperate housewives' to being 'divinely centered women'--or at least a little less destructive?

Susan Mayer (Teri Hatcher):

This divorced single mother has unresolved anger at her ex-husband that taints her other relationships. Susan is awkward (falls naked into shrubbery in broad daylight), accident-prone (burns down a neighbor's house) and irresponsible (doesn't admit she caused the fire). At times, her teenage daughter seems to have more of a handle on life than Susan does.

What makes Susan desperate is her immaturity. If she were in spiritual direction, she would be asked to reflect on the benefits she enjoys by remaining childlike. Because her schoolgirl pratfalls get a lot of attention, she may be fearful of developing a mature sense of self. Perhaps she feels like a wounded child because her husband left her for another woman. To develop a new, healthy relationship with a man, she'll need to let go of anger towards her ex-husband so that she won't burden a new relationship with a lot of baggage. A good place for a spiritual director to start with Susan would be to have her visualize herself as the person God created her to be--her best self, the kind that would own up to her role in the fire and to her other failings.

Lynette Scavo (Felicity Huffman):

Lynette left a thriving career to become a full-time mother of four "high maintenance" children. Like many overstressed people who seek counseling, she needs to hear herself think. If she found time for spiritual direction, she would be asked to indulge in a good bit of silence, to breathe deeply and relax. She'd probably fall asleep during it (unless she took a few of her kids' ADD pills), but that would be OK . It wouldn't be the first time someone fell asleep while observing silence!

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