I took my sweet little kindergartener to see Aladdin tonight. It was great, and she squealed with excitement throughout half the movie.
As we watched Aladdin and Jasmine soar through the sky on a magic carpet, I recalled watching the animated Aladdin movie with my little sister in the 90’s.
Back then, as a teenager, I was so full of hope and excitement about how my life would turn out, whom I would marry, where I would live. I had watched the romantic scenes, thinking that once I found the “right” man, life would be a constant romantic high. I was sure my future husband would always see me as beautiful and we would love each other eternally.
Now I know different.
Romance comes with a high at first, but, like a high from a drug, the thrill is short. These little highs of romance remind me of eating dessert. Think about a time when you really really wanted chocolate cake–maybe you were on a diet or trying to eat healthy, but you seriously craved chocolate. When you tasted the first few bites it was amazing, but with each bite you could taste it less and less. At the end of the binge you’re left with nothing but regret, which tastes worse than anything.
That’s how romance is. It draws you in, promising a thrill that probably beats the high of winning the lottery. But that exciting feeling doesn’t last. You might feel little sparks of it at times, but–just like the piece of chocolate cake–it doesn’t last long.
So many things in life are fleeting like that.
Every time I go on vacation I spend months planning for it and dreaming of smelling the sea breeze, but when we get there it seems to go too quickly and it’s not as exciting as last time. It seems like it’s over in a flash, and I don’t realize how much fun I had until I’m back home!
It’s like that with my kids. I have little moments now and then where I feel this echo of eternity. I’m lying on the sofa with a toddler asleep beside me, or I’m riding along in the car laughing hysterically with my teenage daughter, who has decided she actually likes me today.
I think, “I wish this moment could last forever!” And I feel like it should for some reason, but it doesn’t. The toddler wakes up and throws a fit, or the teenager retreats back into her glares when I remind her of her chores.
These moments, like romance, are fleeting.
I do still have romantic moments. Sometimes my husband caresses my hand in church or we dance and gaze into each other’s eyes at a wedding. But most of real life is not like a magic carpet ride. It’s every day, plain, difficult, boring, and maybe even pleasant sometimes.
When I taught high school I used to tell my students, “Everyone seems to think that life is like your favorite TV show, with some bad commercials thrown in once in awhile. The fun parts are the show and the hard times are the commercial breaks. But actually, the hard times of life are the show part–the longer segments–and the fun (and romantic) parts of life are the three minute commercial breaks.” It sounds depressing maybe, but it’s true.
The carpet rides are the exceptions.
I say all this because I’ve accepted that this world is not my home. As Christians we are not supposed to get too comfortable here. We are only passing through.
Therefore, I can accept that this world is not going to satisfy me. I will not find lasting happiness, fun, romance, or perfect hair. Nothing lasts on this earth, and nothing here completely fulfills our souls.
The only complete happiness will come in heaven. And until we are there we will feel incomplete. We will long for a longer kiss or another taste or more time with our kids.
C.S. Lewis wrote that we long for heaven, because that’s what we were made for. The reason it feels like those beautiful moments should last forever is that they should. And they will. Eventually. God gave us these desires and has even allowed us to live in this world of temporary pleasures so that we will long for home and for Him.
These teasers are getting us ready for the best place we’ve ever lived and teaching us to crave Him and His help to make it in this world.
One of my favorite verses is Psalm 27:4 which says:
“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.”
The Lord is beautiful and being in His presence is like all the Christmases and birthdays we’ve ever had. No chocolate cake or romantic stroll compares.*
So next time you watch a romantic movie and sigh and think, “Why isn’t my life like that?” Remember that you were made for more. You will have that happy ending one day, but right now all we get is little tastes of Heaven.
*(Note: This is if you’ve got a relationship with Jesus. If you have questions about that, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)