When All You Have Is Now

Junior Seau had a smile that could light up a room even from the television screen. He was a hard-hitting, ferocious defensive lineman for the San Diego Chargers for twelve years before moving on to Miami and then New England. Successful, well-liked by fans and other players. Dearly loved by his family. And yesterday he was found dead, presumably the victim of a suicide.

The media is at a loss. He wasn’t doing drugs or out of money. In fact he was involved in the community, had his own foundation, was giving back to his school.

There was that little incident a few years ago when he was arrested for domestic violence and shortly thereafter drove his car off a cliff, but he said he fell asleep, so no red flag there! 🙄

In an effort to make sense of this tragedy, the media finally grasped the idea that maybe, just maybe head trauma was causing depression which could lead to suicide. The salient fact was the number of football players and hockey players (also a violent sport, we’re told) who have committed suicide within the last few years.

Interesting that no corroborative numbers were presented from the sport of boxing.

But here’s the point. The members of the media were grasping for an explanation. From their perspective, Mr. Seau had it all: fame, good looks, money, health, love, respect, usefulness. He was only 43, so hardly over the hill. He had all kinds of time to enjoy the life he’d worked so hard to create. It just doesn’t add up. Unless there was a medical reason for such a sad outcome.

Of course I’m no doctor and I didn’t know Junior Seau, so I’m not pretending that I have inside information or that I understand what went through his mind. I have no knowledge whatsoever about what was behind his death.

I do know that the media wouldn’t be at such a loss for influencing factors if they believed in something more than the good life. Did it never cross their minds that maybe, just maybe Mr. Seau had accomplished all his goals and found that he had nothing? Or perhaps he’d been living for football for so long that when it was gone, all the other things he tried to fit in its place left him empty?

Our Western culture doesn’t want to consider that the thing we idolize might actually fail to satisfy. So few people actually “make it,” so we hold those up as our role models: Oprah, Magic, Bill Gates. And when someone breaks into that elite group, we think surely they have attained happiness — the thing the rest of us are still pursuing.

I wonder if that might not be some of the fascination with celebrities — how does it look to have it all, how does it look to be in position to be happy?

Because the rest of us have Monday mornings and car payments, mortgages, laundry, and not enough time to work out. We have doctor bills and angry bosses and loud neighbors. The rich and famous — they can simply buy peace and quiet. Or party til the drop if they’d rather. Surely that’s the life. Isn’t it?

That’s sort of like saying life is good if you can eat chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of your life. As much as I love chocolate, I still know that I would not be satisfied if my steady and exclusive diet was something so lacking in nutritional value.

But our culture doesn’t look at “the good life” in such terms. The sad thing is, ninety-nine percent of the world looks at those of us in the US as having the good life. We actually illustrate the fact that having cars and smart phones and laptops and iPods and flat screens and houses and twenty pairs of shoes and, and, and … doesn’t satisfy. If it did, we’d stop trying so hard to get the next gadget, the next goody. We’d be content and start living within our means. We’d be more generous and worry less about losing what we have.

But no. We want our now to be better than it is, because that’s all we’ve got. If we die young or die poor, then we haven’t made it.

Sadly, that philosophy misses the mark because this life is not all there is. It’s much easier to be content in want or in plenty, as Paul said he was, if you know you have eternal riches stored up for you in heaven. The good life here or the suffering life is really one and the same — training camp for the real dance.

Published in: on May 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm  Comments (8)  
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  1. Well said, Becky. So sad.

    And the assumptions regarding concussions are nothing more than that and really quite unprofessional to use them to achieve a purpose they can’t prove. Depression knows no limits. Injuries can affect depression but not necessarily cause it. All kinds of people suffer with hidden depression. Highs and lows. Sometimes the lows get the best of the best because of reasons you describe above, because of chemical problems in the brain, and/or because the enemy of our souls is so good at deception that sometimes he wins the battle.


  2. Just finished “The Art of Divine Contentment”, by Thomas Watson (c.1620-1686) from Soli DEO Gloria Publications. I would highly recommend it in spite of some difficulties with archaic word usages.
    Chapter 1 begins with
    “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Philippians 4;11.
    May it be so with all who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and name Jesus as Savior and Lord.


  3. Looking back, and I hate to admit it after this post, but my depression bouts could have been remedied by money. Both times it would have extricated me from bad deals and decisions. Instead I had to remind myself over and over that the life situations were temporary and insignificant in the big picture of life. Even with too much money, I believe, at least for me, depression would come in a different form. Vanity.


  4. Good post. It’s so hard to look past today. I was raised in the “immediate gratification” world. And what happens when the immediate world is not gratifying? How depressing.


  5. Nicole, you’ve hit the heart of the issue. They are speculating because they are at a loss to explain what happened, but it isn’t fact and they’re wrong to turn someone’s death into their cause. I think there’s a “if we can understand it, we can control it” mentality. I suppose it’s to be expected. Without Christ, how else would you make sense of sin and suffering and tragedy?



  6. Sue, that’s it, precisely. We believers need to follow Paul as he followed Christ instead of following our discontented culture. It’s so easy to do as Sally pointed out. We’ve grown up being told we deserve a break today, that the world is our oyster, that we can do, get, be whatever we want. When we realize the truth, it’s hard.

    But with Christ we have exactly what He wants us to have, since He knows what is good for us.

    Interesting that you just finished that book. The Truth for Life radio program feature was a book on contentment last month, too. It’s a good topic!



  7. Bob, looking back there are definitely things I would change too, and a lot of them would have disappeared if I’d learned to be content, to trust God’s will and way, to rejoice in Him as all the treasure I need. Thankfully God doesn’t expect us to begin new birth fully grown. He wants us to “grow up in respect to salvation.” Every thing we learn spiritually is something to celebrate rather than something to mourn because we didn’t know it sooner. 😉



  8. Sally, I’d say it isn’t hard; it’s impossible. God is greater, though, than our culture and the habits we’ve learned. He can take people out of sinful lifestyles, and does all the time. Just recently I met a women who was joining my church. She’d grown up in a false religion. Then ten years ago she met the man who would become her husband. He introduced her to Jesus Christ and her life is radically different. She is so vibrant, so passionate in her faith. It’s such an example of God’s power. And of course we know what he’ll do for someone in another culture he can do for us, too.



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