Usually, it is very hard to relate to most of the things characters in The Walking Dead are going through. And let’s face it, the world of the Walking Dead is so different than our world, that this is half of the fun – we get to imagine how we would react to these very foreign experiences that we see on the show. How would we survive this type of apocalypse? Who would we group with? And probably, most importantly for those of us who are Christians, what would our faith look like in this type of world?
This is exactly what my brother Jonathan writes about in his book The Zombie Apocalypse Guide for Teenagers. (If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it, especially for those who are fans of TWD. In his book, he examines how Christians might react in a world where the dead walk the earth.)
But this week on TWD, I am afraid that we encounter a character that we might relate to a little too much. Fans of the comics undoubtedly are excited that three of our characters (Eugene, Yumiko and Ezekiel) get to meet the fan favorite, Princess. While Princess is very eccentric, and possibly a little insane, we understand her because she is suffering from an extreme case of cabin fever. She tells us right when we meet her that she has not talked to any humans in over a year.
If you notice when this article was written, you will see that it is the 5th of April, 2020, a time when many people around the world are increasingly removed from human contact. We call it social distancing, but really it means that we are staying physically apart from each other because of the very scary Coronavirus. In our house, we have been staying in for about three weeks now and we haven’t ventured out much at all.
Just this morning, I spoke to a man at our church who has also been isolated for three weeks, but he lives alone. I noticed immediately how different his experience is than mine. I have my wife, kids and mother-in-law living here right now, and believe me, there is no loneliness in my house. But he has been by himself for just three weeks and he is going crazy. He also is someone who doesn’t have internet, so he is even more removed socially.
As I was watching this episode of The Walking Dead, I couldn’t help but think of this when Princess announces that she has been alone for a year. She must be out of her mind at this point.
Consequently, she leads Eugene, Yumiko and Ezekiel on a wild goose chase just so she can spend more time with them. But she accidently, almost kills them by walking through a land mine field.
Yumiko: Hey, you put our lives in danger back there.
Princess: For what? I didn’t.
Ezekiel: Let’s all just take a…
Yumiko: No, no, no, no, no. Our friends, our families, are depending on us. She may not have anyone left to care about, but we sure as h*ll do.
Princess: I’m sorry.
Eugene: Fleetwood Drive.
Eugene: We passed Fleetwood Drive earlier.
Princess: Uh, must’ve been a different Fleetwood. We’ve got like five of them all over the city… streets, avenues, roads – it’s super confusing.
Eugene: No it was most certainly Fleetwood Drive. I remember seeing the sign and saying to myself “Granddaddy used to drive a Fleetwood.”
Yumiko: You’ve led us around all day when we could have walked straight here?
Ezekiel: Is that true? (Yumiko draws back and arrow and aims it at princess) Yumiko!
Yumiko: You better tell us what you’re up to, and maybe I’ll leave you here alive.
Princess: Okay, okay, okay. I might’ve maybe sort of missed the turn onto Fleetwood earlier but only because I was having too much fun! And then I figured, we could take the scenic route instead of turning around and keep the fun going!
Yumiko: Into a minefield!!!
Princess: Which looks bad – I know. But I’d been through it like a billion times before, and I never thought it was gonna be a problem until is was. All I wanted was to show you the garage and then you’d be like, “Princess, you’re amazing! We want to stay and be friends!” But no… I screwed it up. I see that now. Yeah. Sh*t. When I was first here, by myself, I figured somebody else would show up eventually. Odds are, right? And then days turned into months. And it was so empty. But then I realized, this isn’t that different from how I felt before all this. This one time, someone told me, “You’re hard to love.” So maybe it’s me. Maybe I deserve this. And all day I kept hearing that little voice in my head – “It’s me.” And I know I should’ve turned around, or told you guys the truth, but I didn’t want that voice to be right. So… I am sorry.
Eugene: I have an all-too-familiar sense of how you feel. (he puts his hand on Princess’ shoulder) I’ve made poor decisions. Lied to folks. The inevitable alternative meant being left alone. No one wants that.
I love how Eugene reacts. If anyone in our group knows the weird things people do when they are lonely, it is Eugene.
But if there is one major theme on this show that is explored over and over again, it is the idea of finding family. Later in the episode, when Yumiko invites Princess to join their family, it is actually quite moving. Also, Daryl has an amazing talk with Judith about what family means in this universe.
But in our world, especially now in our situation, people all over the place are finding family. It is amazing how many people in our congregation who live alone are sheltering in place with others who live alone. We may even be inviting my friend who I mentioned earlier to clan with us here during this time.
But, for those of us who are believers, our family is a little different. Our congregation has been having online services, with me preaching to an empty room, but our body is not completely isolated from each other. I am not just talking about the technology that we have to communicate with each other either. I am talking about the unity in the body of Christ because of our mutual relationship with a God who never leaves us alone.
You see, God tells us clearly that He is always with us. Just look at the last words that Jesus spoke to His followers before He ascended into heaven.
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
We call this the great commission, because of the command to share the gospel. But, the part that I find the most encouraging is what Jesus says about His presence, even beyond the lifetimes of those who were there. He says, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (vs. 20) That doesn’t mean that he will be there just for those who were present at the ascension. It means that His presence is with Christians until the end of days. I don’t know about you, but this is very good news for all of us. It means that we are never alone, even if we aren’t around people.
Now, I am not saying that we don’t need each other because we have Jesus. As most of us are figuring out, gathering and fellowship are a very important part of the church. And if we haven’t figured it out yet, this Easter Sunday, many people are going to understand this even more (as we cannot gather together physically). But what is most encouraging to me, is the fact that, Jesus is always with us. And that brings a whole new perspective for the lonely. We are truly never alone, and that changes everything, then, now and until the end of time.
SEASON 10, EPISODE 15 DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:
- 1) Daryl can’t promise Judith that he will never leave her. Why do you think he does this?
- 2) Daryl also tells Judith that she will always have family around her who will do anything for her. Do you think that is was encouraging for her? Why or why not?
- 3) Princess has been alone for a year. Do you think that her reaction to meeting Eugene, Ezekiel and Yumiko was realistic? Why or why not?
- 4) Why do you think that Eugene seems to relate to Princess?
- 5) Do you get the feeling that maybe Yumiko and Ezekiel also relate to her? Why or why not?
- 6) Princess, doesn’t seem to know if she was crazy before a year without people. Do you think that loneliness makes you a little crazy? Why or why not?
- 7) Have you ever been lonely in your life? What did it feel like?
- 8) Do you find it encouraging that Jesus tells His followers that He will always be with them? Why or why not?
- 9) What does this mean to you in your life? Does this change the way you look at times when you feel lonely and distant from others?
Thom McKee Jr. is a husband, father, pastor… and film geek (and brother of Jonathan McKee). Thom lives in Northern California with his wife and two kids.