My favorite nursery rhyme is “The Three Little Pigs.” It is a story about withstanding attack. Regardless of the moral message we may garner from this tale, the power of the story lies in the pigs’ ability to nullify the huffs and puffs of the wolf who opposes them. Yet as beloved as the story is, it’s a lie isn’t it? I’m not talking about the whole concept of talking pigs and a wolf who seems more interested in architecture than appetizer. I’m talking about how we can never be immune from the huffs and puffs of the wolves in our own life.
I wonder if this is why the culture today is so enamored by the cult of celebrity. Is the rampant desire to ‘become a celebrity’ about building brick houses and escaping blowing wolves? In 2007, The Pew Research Center published a survey which revealed that 81% of people age 18 – 25 see becoming rich and famous as the most important goal of their future. Beyond happiness, love, and friendship, people want fame. I’m willing to bet that this isn’t just about financial prosperity and red-carpet parties. Rather, deep within, this yearn to be famous is about the desire for a life understood to be free from the regular problems and issues faced in normal life. The huffs of the wolf are silenced under the shimmering glamour of celebrity culture.
Celebrities after all, often seem untouched by the storms of regular life as is experienced by most people. For example, the problems and difficulties of teenage pregnancy seem almost non-existent when exchanged for the super-stardom of hit TV shows like ’16 and Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom.’ Sure there are scandals and problems, yet do these ever really damage the celebrity? Charlie Sheen still has a hit TV show, and despite Lindsey Lohan’s carousel of personal problems, she remains in the public eye. There is a sense in which the celebrity transcends the problems and struggles of every-day life. Controversies, as extreme as they may be at times, are simply the shop in which one purchases the materials to construct their brick mansions of ease and security. Despite moral outcry over ‘Teen Mom’ Farrah Abraham’s decision to star in her very own pornographic movie, magazines and celebrity news sites still depict her in glamorous places surrounded by beautiful people and having a grand old time. Also, she has now become a celebrity which others are now attempting to emulate (Courtney Stodden is apparently hoping to make her own pornographic movie). In the eyes of the culture, and to all us other little pigs, it seems that Abraham has escaped the big bad wolf.
It’s not a stretch to see why YouTube, Facebook, and other sites of self-promotion are so popular these days. When we watch things like Big Brother, Jersey Shore, or the Kardashians – where fame is simply a matter of being famous – it’s intoxicatingly easy to see that such celebrity status is really not all that far away.
Yet like all things Hollywood, it’s just a façade, and of course, the wolf does huff and puff doesn’t it? No matter how strong we build our brick houses, there are times where the house shakes a bit more than we would like. What is more, no matter the lying images that pepper magazines and celebrity reels, we instinctively know that the life of celebrity is rarely free from struggle and pain. We can never escape the things the life throws at us. Nor can we construct walls and houses that will keep us isolated from all that is big and bad.
Perhaps this is why Jesus sought not to provide an escape from the struggles of life. Jesus said “In this world you will have trouble, but fear not for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) This overcoming is not a blissful removal of all difficulties. There is no pie-in-the-sky escapism with Jesus. Instead of removing the stresses and the hurts, the wounds and the scars, Jesus enters into those places of our lives and bears those things upon himself. He matches our tears with his own and turns our wounds into his. Jesus so sympathizes with us who can be weak and frail, that it is in his wounds that we find our healing. It is allowing Jesus to enter into the deep and sometimes difficult places of our lives that we find strength to stand amidst the harsh winds and waves of our lives.
The fact is, brick houses that can be constructed can be taken apart. Troubles that we run away from will eventually find us once again; and all the fame that can we can garner for ourselves can be lost in but a moment. But the one whose love and grace is born in eternity and offered to us freely has the power to transform and redeem the most troublesome of times. And while the frustrations may continue, and our hard roads still seem long and unending, we will find that we journey not alone. His grace is always sufficient; His joy is the fountain of our strength, his presence is our peace and rest.
So the next time that the big bad wolf blows in your direction don’t simply turn away and run to the nearest celebrity magazine or your favorite star. Instead, turn to Jesus. Allow him to journey with you as you face that wolf head on; for the one who walks with us through valleys of the darkest shadows is also the one who prepares for us tables of rest and nourishment, and it is in his house that we find eternal peace and rest.