I am not going to say that reality television shows are of the devil. I’m not. Really. I will say that aside from a few dance or singing competitions, I don’t watch much reality television because they usually leave me wondering “what the hell is wrong with people?” My wife on the other hand can’t get enough of them. She, like the rest of us, are drawn to story. We all have them, we all relate to them, we want to see them told well. If there are characters, we want to get to know them. We want to identify with their situation. Which brings us to Ruby.

Ruby follows the journey of Ruby Gettinger, Sunday School teacher, lover of life, and a person who cherishes her friends and family. She is also 500 lbs and has been diagnosed with diabetes. Flat out, her doctor has told her that she will die unless she finds a way to transform her life and bring her weight under control.

“I know who I am inside. All they see is a shell.” –Ruby

Ruby radiates happiness. She knows herself and has such a warm personality. She has a good spirit about her and that’s what draws the viewer in. The world, we come to appreciate, is not made for her or for obese people in general. Even the chairs in the doctor’s waiting room—who treats obesity—has chairs too small for her. She hears the snickers and sees the stares, but that hasn’t stopped her from wanting to be accepted for who she is, as she is. She dreams of things many people take for granted: To shop without getting tired; to paint her own toe nails; to sit on a guy’s lap. All put on hold because of her struggles with the beast.

“This is your life. This is your last chance.”—Doctor

The beast is her obesity and all the things/temptations that contribute to it. It’s the relentless, seemingly unstoppable, enemy within; her nature she struggles against. We all have “a beast” within us that keeps us from living as we ought to be living. An insidious part of us that takes root, feeding on our weakness, and expresses itself in any of a number of destructive ways. We become slaves to that beast, like addicts, and any addict will tell you that they are no longer in control, that the addiction is in control. The need for sating that addiction becomes the new law that lives in them and runs their lives. More than any mere moral rule, it has a physical aspect to it. It lives in addicts, indwells them, ever enticing, threatening, and bullying. So there is a need for transformation.

“This is about me transforming.” –Ruby

For her lifestyle change to occur, Ruby realized that her emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual aspects were tied together and that she needed a holistic approach. We’re too quick to attack the obvious signs of the beast and too often fail to address the underlying issues contributing to it. Then we wonder why the beast seems to go into hiding only to come back on us that much stronger the next time.

Her journey is very much relational. We rarely struggle alone, and our trials impact those around us. Her friends had inadvertently enabled her. They loved her and wanted to see her happy yet ended up unintentionally hurting her. So part of her transformation involves leaning on her friends to help her. To be a part of a community, like a church, to walk beside her.

Also, she becomes a disciple. She has a few folks who step in as mentors or teachers at whose feet she sits at and learns/follows. Doctors, pastors, trainers, and a psychologist, each addressing an aspect of her problem. Looking at the scope in which she begins to tackle her problem, we realize there is no quick fix. It’s a hard road, a true journey that won’t happen all at once (and would be dangerous to her health and well-being if it did). Personal growth, in this case, the weight loss, happens in small increments.

“I don’t want to live like how I’ve been living.” –Ruby

Reality shows are about characters and if you care about them, you watch the show. With Ruby we have a sweet, charming, and funny “character” engaged in a compelling struggle. We all have people we love, who are important parts of our lives who may struggle with weight or self-image problems. Sometimes it helps to know that you don’t struggle alone. Despite my disdain for reality television, I’m probably going to end up watching this show whether I want to or not. It’s right up my wife’s alley.

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