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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Zero to Sixty

We're cruising along at 36,000 feet, and the forty-somethings in front of me are making out like a pair of junior highers in the back of the bus. Not bad for two people who didn't even know one another when we left Philly three hours ago, and who (by the looks of it) will probably know one another a whole lot more intimately by tomorrow morning in Denver.

Then again, no matter how fast you go from zero to sixty, it still takes time to really know someone - there's just no shortcutting relationship. It's amazing how a little alcohol mixed with anonymity can bring out the deepest desires in people.

It's a little weird watching other people suck face, especially on a plane. It's kind of like watching an in-flight video without any headphones - when you can hear the movie, it all makes perfect sense, it becomes real and draws you in. But without any music, dialog, and sound, strange things happen: comedies become a lot less funny, dramas become a lot less dramatic. You notice all kinds of things that you never see when you are caught up in the moment.

And that's the funny thing about love (or lust) - when you are the one who's in it, unexpectedly kissing that mysterious women next to you, it all feels so natural and right, it seems to make perfect sense. Yet when you find yourself a spectator just a few feet away in a ringside seat, it takes on a decidedly different hue. It's like watching a train-wreck in the making - you can't help but gawk, but you know you really shouldn't, because you are of witnessing perfectly intelligent people make really stupid decisions they are going to regret later, maybe forever, and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it.

In some ways it feels a little like walking in on your mom and dad, when you should have been asleep hours ago but you decided you needed a glass of water and so you went to ask and... Hey, what are you guys doing?!? Eeewwww, GROSS! Only in this case, its not your mom and dad - there's no long term commitment to somehow sanctify the moment. Its glandular, pure and simple. And everybody knows it.

So where am I going with all this? I'm not really sure. It just strikes me as very, very interesting - a microcosm if you will. On the one hand, it's a great illustration of just how blind we can be to our own sin, how something which everyone else clearly sees as bad, can nevertheless feel pretty darn good when we're the ones doing the indulging.

On the other hand, it also says a lot about relationships - most of us intuitively recognize that we are meant for something better. What makes the glandular stuff really grand is when it occurs in the context of a deeper commitment - to one another, for the sake of one another, not simply for the sake of the immediate urge. Why is this the case? Because this is the way God created us - in his image. We are meant for something beautiful, transcendent, and that always occurs in the context of obligation to another.

It's also tremendously indicative of just how desperate we are FOR relationships - the alcohol doesn't produce this kind of behavior; it just unlocks the heart and removes some of the inhibitions. We are a people who cannot find fulfillment in ourselves, because we were not meant to.

The sad thing of all in this is that they're not going to get what they're really after. It's like the old U2 song - they still haven't found what they're looking for, and deep down everyone (both us and them) knows they won't get it this way either. Even sadder is the fact that most of us are more like them than we'd care to admit - put us in the right circumstances, and we'd probably do the same type of things (maybe worse).

This might be a good time to take a look in the mirror, to consider where we're really looking for fulfillment, and ponder what it must look like to those sitting a few rows back...


At 9:59 PM, April 20, 2006, Blogger rs said...

not only that, this story shows how much we live life on little scraps of meaning. If we don't live lives that are truly meaningful, then we'll take the one-night stands even though they leave us feeling empty later. Christians are no different, we just look for our scraps of meaning in more acceptable ways. Imagine what it will be like when we are finally completely fulfilled?

At 6:33 AM, April 21, 2006, Blogger goodnight moon said...

really disgusting, and yet convicting

At 7:51 AM, April 21, 2006, Blogger Ainsley said...

Excellent Post, Christian. May God be so gracious as to clear our blurry, nearsighted eyes from the scales - that we'll always have the "back 2 rows" perspective on our actions and sin.


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