My Guilty Pleasure: Lessons Learned from The Bachelor

The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have become my ‘guilty pleasure.’ Yet every week I tune in wondering why anyone would think going on the show is a good idea. I’m flabbergasted to see so many men and women my age think they can actually find love, lasting love, while cameras are rolling as they travel across the globe in the most unnatural relational scenarios.  And yet, I tune in every week. What is it about this show that keeps me and countless others coming back for more? What draws people to seek “love” in such an unloving environment? While I have my theories, I’ll leave you to ponder this for yourself. But I will say that I DON’T think it’s because we “just enjoy a good love story” and want to see a happily ever after.

A lot could be said about the shows’ shortcomings and poor track record of long-lasting, committed relationships. Yet for all its faults The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have taught me some valuable lessons. They’ve taught me about the culture I live in; we long for love and acceptance. And they’ve taught me about my heart’s condition; I am far too comfortable with watching others fail.

Culture of Love

While I suspect that not every person on the shows is there to find true love, the fact remains that the goal of the series are to “help” men and women find love, something which consumes our culture. We sell love as the cure for all ailments. All you need is love. Unfortunately love inevitably fails us. So we move on to the next love. Until that love fails too, and so we continue in an endless, vicious cycle. The love we rightly long for appears hopelessly out of reach. Why is that? Could it be that we are looking for love in the wrong place, or more likely, the wrong person? There is One who offers us the unconditional love we long for. Christ offers us a love that will never fail. He promises His love in sickness and health, in riches and poverty, for better or worse, until death calls us Home to His presence.

Failure of the Heart

I have discovered that watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette makes me feel better about myself. This season as I watched the shortcomings of Courtney and Ben I was the self-righteous Pharisee in the parable told by Jesus. I rejoiced that I was so much better than them. I was critical of their motives and decisions, basing my opinion of them on a few edited minutes of footage put together from hours upon hours of daily life. My attitude did not show the love I have been freely given by Christ. He sees my every thought and motive turned into word and deed; and He stays faithful to His loving promising to never leave me or forsake me.[1] And He’s called me to share this amazing love that He’s lavished upon me.

While it’s debatable whether true love is found on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, finding true love is possible. It’s a love that promises to never fail you.[2] God has not offered you a red rose that will eventually wither away. He has offered you something of infinite value that will never die; the crimson blood of His Son shed for you. Will you accept His love?

[1] Hebrews 13:5

[2] John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 8:31-39


Questioning the Purpose of Life in Toy Story

Have you ever noticed that children’s cartoons often have very adult messages? Recently my niece has fallen in love with the characters of Disney Pixar’s Toy Story. When she isn’t watching the three animated movies, she assumes the role of Buzz Lightyear, running through the house declaring, “To infinity, and beyond!” When I first saw the movies I loved the heartwarming, and often comical, story. Now having seen the movies more times than I can count, I’ve realized that they are much more than the favorite cartoon of my three-year old niece. Through the eyes of a few toys, the human heart’s longing for purpose becomes clear, and I think, the answer to where that longing is found.

As Buzz, Woody, Jessie, and the rest of the toys face their insecurities surrounding their ‘toyness’ and worth, we face with our own human longing for purpose. For example, in the first movie Buzz Lightyear has no idea he’s a toy, believing he’s actually a space ranger on a mission to protect the galaxy. As the story unfolds Buzz discovers who he really is to the undoing of his understanding of reality.

In despair he tells Woody, “I’m just a toy; a stupid, insignificant toy.”

And into his brokenness Woody speaks words of truth, “Look, over in that house is a kid who thinks you are the greatest, and it’s not because you’re a space ranger, pal. It’s because you are a toy. You are HIS toy.”

Buzz had to learn that his purpose and worth was found in fulfilling the role he was created for. He was a toy created for the purpose of being loved and played with by a child. His meaning was found in acknowledging his toyness. As he embraced this reality he found joy, contentment, and peace. When Buzz accepted the love of the child he was made for he found the significance he longed for.

I wonder how often we are like Buzz Lightyear. We have grand ideas and plans surrounding our identity and purpose. Yet there inevitably comes a point in life when we’re confronted with the reality that we’re not all we thought we were. We’re not capable of what we thought we could do. And like Buzz, we’re overwhelmed with our smallness and seeming insignificance. Like Buzz we need to discover our created purpose, our reason for being. Because it is only when we fulfill our created purpose that we find true contentment and peace.

So what is our created purpose? Where do we find our meaning? St. Augustine once said, “Thou hast created us for Thyself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in Thee.”

This echoes Paul’s word on humanity’s created purpose: “… that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’” And, “All things were created through him and for him.”[1]

Buzz found his worth in accepting his created purpose of being a beloved toy. Likewise, we need to find our worth from accepting our created purpose. We were not created to rescue the galaxy. We were made for so much more. Where is your heart seeking its worth and rest?

[1] Acts 17:26-28; Colossians 1:16