Yesterday someone sent me an article on ESPN.com describing the great disappointment experienced by Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors and Bob Myers, their general manager, after losing the NBA Championship to the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were the defending champions and after the fourth game held a 3-1 lead.
In the article, Myers, being very reflective says: “People think winning a championship fixes everything. In fact, it doesn’t fix much. It doesn’t fix much of anything for anybody.”
The analogy Myers presents is this: You are given a new Ferrari, the car you never thought you’d ever own in your lifetime. But then, all of a sudden, someone hands you the keys and tells you to enjoy the ride. The initial elation is indescribable, but then reality sets in.
“So you drive it for a week or so, and you say, ‘Wait, this was supposed to solve all my problems,”
He is revealing a truth that many people have discovered, when you get or achieve the ultimate and it lets you down. It does not satisfy nor does it produce the happiness you thought that it would. It makes you wonder, if this does not satisfy me, what will?
I think this explains the words of the Pulitzer Prize winning author John Cheever when he said:
“The main emotion of the adult American who has had all the advantages of wealth, education and culture – is disappointment.”
Someone who has made a similar observation is Cynthia Heimel in an article she wrote in theVillage Voice, which is a popular magazine that features investigative articles, current affairs, culture, the arts and music in New York City.
Heimel writes about the people she knew who were trying to make it as actors and actresses on Broadway. It was a struggle performing at auditions while holding down menial jobs. She said they truly believed if they could only make it on the stage, then they would be whole and complete. They were like so many New Yorkers, stressed, driven and always tired. But when they finally made it and became famous, they became very difficult, unstable people. Heimel observed that they did not become arrogant as you might expect, but they became much more unhappy and discontent than they used to be.
“I pity [celebrities]. No, I do. [Celebrities] were once perfectly pleasant human beings . . . but now . . . their wrath is awful . . . More than any of us, they wanted fame. They worked, they pushed . . . The morning after . . . each of them became famous, they wanted to take an overdose . . . because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything okay, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and . . . happiness, had happened. And nothing changed. They were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable.”
Heimel clearly felt sorry for these people. Then she made an interesting statement: “I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you, He grants your deepest wishes.”
All of our worldly desires, even when they are met, do not produce lasting satisfaction. As Tim Keller put it:
“If you expect this world to give you happiness, you will be utterly disappointed, because you are asking the world to give you something it cannot give.”
As a counselor on our staff has put it, “people are driven and ruled by unsatisfied desires, and they are desperately looking everywhere that they can in hopes of finding satisfaction.” He goes on to say the prophet Jeremiah was spot-on when he wrote:
“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, Broken cisterns that can hold no water.” – Jeremiah 2:13
We forsake God, the fountain of living waters, and we construct a life strategy of making our own cisterns and filling them with water that will satisfy us. The problem is this: all of our cisterns leak. They cannot hold water. We are continually thirsty.
Lawrence Dutton is a member of the Emerson String Quartet, which is a wonderful classical music ensemble. He did all the right things – started playing early, went to Julliard, and had all the right accomplishments along the way. One year he and the quartet won two Grammy awards. It was a remarkable achievement, but Lawrence said that after the initial euphoria of the awards, he was deeply depressed for a time because he felt he’d done it all. How much higher could he jump?
Do you see what happened? He was seeking satisfaction in his life through his music. He was buiding a broken cistern that could hold no water. It left him empty and depressed.
But then Dutton became a committed Christian, and everything changed for him. Though he won four more Grammy’s, they were inconsequential because he had found and drunk from the fountain of living water and experienced true satisfaction. A Grammy award remains a great honor to Lawrence Dutton, but he no longer looks for it to satisfy him.