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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Life's Meaning and Mindy McCready

If Only I was Rich, Famous, Successful?

I don’t about the rest of the world, but there seems to be such a drive here in the United States toward success as defined by wealth, fame, popularity and/or power.  It comes out in the forms of the “if onlys”…..if only I had more money, if only I could get that lucky break, if only I could be on stage giving that concert, if only I could play professional sports.  It kind of sums up in the form of “If only my life was as easy or wonderful as all these famous people we see in the movies and on the television.”  The assumption is that when these “if onlys” turn into realities, I would be happy, fulfilled, have no more problems, find life easy and meaningful.  But, really?

The news broke with another tragic end of a famous person the other day, with the apparent suicide of Mindy McCready, a country music singer from down in Arkansas.  This on the heels of the murder of the model Reeva Steenkamp with her boyfriend, Olympic star Oscar Pistorius charged as the killer.  While Major League Baseball passes over names for the Hall of Fame due to the use of steroids and Lance Armstrong is stripped of honors for the same.  They all sound so happy, so successful, such easy wonderful lives, don’t you think?

No, fame, wealth, power and popularity are not all they are purported to be.  Partly because even the people that have them, are still just people.  Regular people, with regular struggles, as well as other struggles that come with the things they have acquired.  Too many of us are pursuing illusions that promise happiness and fulfillment, but can only provide emptiness and hardship.  Now, don’t get me wrong, any of those success attributes can be a good thing, and can be used to accomplish a lot of good.  And, I believe it is important that we DO strive to be and do our best, as I believe only our best is honoring to God.  But true happiness and meaning in life has more to do with what is within us, than external trappings like what we have, where we live, or whether society considers us successful. 

I want to think about Mindy McCready.  It is truly a sad thing when a person as talented and apparently well loved by people as this woman was.  I don’t know her, am not a country music fan, so am not going to be speaking about her life as if I know her.  Like many of you, I only know what I have read and heard in the news.  It seems she’s had some troubled relationships in her life.  Lots of people have these problems, and they are hard, they break your heart.  They report at one time, she had been engaged, and then that relationship ended.  Those of you who have been divorced know two things about that:  1) you know how hard it is to lose someone you love so dearly; 2) you know that, hard as it is, it is better to have a broken engagement than to marry and end in divorce.   It would be interesting to know how many divorce/broken engagements lead to suicidal behaviors.  It is certainly an extremely trying time in life. 

In regard to Mindy, the news also says that her recent boyfriend committed suicide himself not long ago, and she was in deep grief over that…..and who wouldn’t be?  That is a tragically tough thing to experience, and now her loved ones are experiencing the same thing.  Finally, they reported that she has spent some time in rehab, and has had some other difficulties since her boyfriend’s death.  All these things apparently overwhelmed her to the point that she just could not take it anymore.  Or, sometimes, people commit suicide believing that, in so doing, they will join the loved one they miss.  Sad.  Tragically sad. 

Might I suggest that her hardships and tragic death can remind us that all these things beckoning to us promising happiness and easy lives are simply not the answers we need in life.  If they were, she would never have had the problems she had.  I would suggest that what matters is what it is we hang on to for meaning in life, and what we turn to when we need help in times of hardship.  Perhaps for poor Mindy she invested too much of her life’s meaning in other people, like her boyfriend who died.  Perhaps in her hardship, she turned to those prescription drugs or whatever other things she needed rehab from to get her through. 

As I said, I don’t know her personal life, so cannot speak for sure, yet one can’t help but wonder whether things might have been different if she had more actively sought the help she needed at the feet of Christ.  It is possible she tried, but didn’t feel like she got the answers she needed…..that happens to even the best of us at times.  But it is at that point we must persist, continuing to seek God through His word and His people, until God comes and meets those needs.  You know, it is in those hardest of times that God will give us the greatest strength and the deepest meaning…..if we honestly and diligently give Him that opportunity.  It is possible Mindy did try, I am not saying she didn’t.  But it is clear she also let other things cloud up her life to help her get by, rather than following Christ in obedience and self-discipline.  What is even more sad is that, because she apparently was such a success, it is even possible that there were Christians in her life who didn’t bother to tell her about the Lord.  They may have believed she didn’t need God, or that she already had her act together, or that it wasn’t the right time yet…..and now it is too late for her. 

Join me in prayer for Mindy’s family and friends, who must be suffering terribly in this time of loss.  And while thinking of her, look around yourself to see if there are others nearby who might be successful, but are struggling in their lives.  Perhaps now is the time, and you are the person God can use to change their life path forever.  Will you speak up?  And, also look within.  What are YOU chasing in life, where is YOUR source of strength and meaning?  Are you caught in the same mistakes that so many in our society make, believing that wealth, power, fame and popularity are the path to happiness and meaning?  If so, you need to take a second look at those all around us whose lives prove that the answers are not to be found there!  God alone can give the life meaning we all need.  I encourage you to give Him that opportunity.

TL:dr  The death of Mindy McCready can inspire us to evaluate what really is important in life.

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