The newest Pure Flix Original series, "Eleanor's Bench," starring Karen Abercrombie as Eleanor Thomason, a juvenile court judge, is full of important lessons about following God’s calling, practicing self control and learning from your past. Eleanor’s journey illustrates how discovering ourselves reminds us that we are enough and deserving of God’s love.
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We come to learn that Eleanor wasn’t always a juvenile court judge and we hear more about her origins, her family, her neighborhood and her past pains and regrets, as we get deeper into the season. Her hands are currently pretty full between her current caseload, assisting her father as he is getting older, her rekindled friendship with Tyree and the ongoing events of a former case of hers that hits a little too close to home.
We wanted to expand on some of the important lessons highlighted through Eleanor’s life as the series unfolds.
Episodic Lessons from “Eleanor’s Bench”
Episode 1: Your Past Doesn’t Define You
Though Eleanor grew up in a tough neighborhood, she didn’t let that stop her from chasing her dreams. When she was of age, she was able to get a good education and make her way up the career ladder into a high-profile law firm in Washington D.C. She didn’t let the fact of where she came from limit her belief in herself and her goals for her life. All the while, when asked where she came from, Eleanor is not afraid to talk about her humble beginnings. She’s proud of who she is today and knows that her upbringing shaped her.
Episode 2: Sacrifices for Family
In the second episode, we’re introduced to a case involving a teenage girl named Star, who is suffering from behavioral issues because her family cannot afford the medications she needs. In Eleanor’s courtroom, she presses Star’s father to make the necessary financial sacrifices to support Star. Eleanor’s instruction serves as a reminder that family members are worth the self-sacrifice.
It reminds us of God’s love, which is also sacrificial. When Jesus died on the cross, He sacrificed Himself for the love of His people – each and every one of us. When we sacrifice for family, or any member of God’s people, we are showing what God’s love looks like to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Episode 3: Be a Chain Breaker
There can be many cases where children believe – or are asked to – follow in their family’s footsteps. These situations can be either beneficial or detrimental to their life’s journey. For example, Eleanor hears John’s case in her courtroom. Both John’s father and his uncle have been in prison for many years. When Eleanor hears his case, she asks if he wants to wind up with the same fate as his family or if he wants to make a new beginning for himself.
Eleanor’s job puts her in a position where she can challenge these children to break the cycle. When we, too, feel stuck or obligated to follow a path we feel uneasy or uncomfortable with, we should not be afraid to take a stand for ourselves and make a change. Change can be scary – because it usually means we’re stepping out into the unknown. But when God is calling for us to step out in faith or make a change, we should follow His voice and guidance, knowing that He will be there every step of the way with us.
Episode 4: Moving Forward Requires Making Amends
In this episode, Eleanor confesses to Heather the promise she made to her childhood best friend, Natasha. Before Natasha was killed, Eleanor promised to always look out for Natasha’s daughter, Jewels. Jewels is the mother of Drayvon, whose case Eleanor has been watching unravel in court. Because of the new charges against Jewels, Eleanor feels like she failed not herself, Natasha and God.
We can all likely remember a time when we felt so guilty and at fault for something that it overwhelms us and we don’t ever think we can move past that guilt. But God’s mercy is endless, and He tells us it’s never too late to ask Him for forgiveness. And if we feel the need to ask someone else to forgive us, we shouldn’t ever be afraid to ask for it. Because if our loved ones and those we hurt know God, they, too, believe His mercy and grace should be poured out to all of those we know.
Read Also: 5 Healing Prayers for Forgiveness
Episode 5: We Can’t Change the Past
Eleanor is crushed by the weight of what’s currently happening with Jewels and how she feels personally responsible. She begins to have nightmares and episodes of panic and anxiety that cripple her. Racked with guilt, Eleanor doesn’t know if she can forgive herself for the missed time she didn’t spend taking care of Jewels.
In moving forward and healing from past wounds, we must accept that we cannot change the actions and decisions we made in the past. It’s easy to let our minds endlessly replay what happened and all the ways we would change it. But, we can’t do that. Replaying the past over again in our minds isn’t healthy - spiritually or mentally. God doesn’t want us to be stuck on one thing we cannot change. He wants to help us learn how to accept it, ask for forgiveness and be renewed by His mercy and grace.
Episode 6: It’s Never Too Late to Start Anew
After multiple times of trying to visit Jewels in prison, Eleanor successfully is able to establish contact and gift Jewels a Bible that had belonged to her mother, Natasha. Eleanor is able to ask for her forgiveness during her visit. She also continues pursuing her relationship with Drayvon and the process to foster him while Jewels is detained. Through praying for God’s mercy, taking steps to move forward and learning what giving herself grace looks like, Eleanor is able to shed the guilt she harbored for her past and step into a new beginning.
This episode’s lesson is a culmination for the season but brings great perspective and depth on how we can't let our past define us.
Eleanor believed that her upbringing in a violent neighborhood was the past she escaped, but she learned that she was really running from broken promises and failed expectations. We can’t let our past define us and we can’t be consumed by what did and what did not happen. We can break the mold and set out to do something new to become who God intended us to be. When we don’t dwell on the past, we know we can always start again with God’s mercy and grace. The hope given to us by God is what tells us that it is never too late for a fresh start. Eleanor’s ability to accept God’s forgiveness is what allows her to start anew.
Those are the lessons we’ve found in the Pure Flix Original series, “Eleanor’s Bench,” which starts streaming only on Pure Flix June 30, with new episodes dropping every Friday. To learn more about this powerful original series, sign up for the Pure Flix Insider email newsletter.