There have been times throughout my life that I’ve seen or heard the stories of the high profile, hugely successful, and often adored news makers in our society and thought, “I could sure get use to his life.” I bet you’ve done the same thing. The stories of the rags-to-riches, every day man or woman who works their fingers to the bone, makes it big, and now lives an MTV Cribs kind of life fascinates us, makes us crave the experience of living the “good life,” and can also lead us to conclude that our lives are insignificant and boring.
If only I was famous. If only I could dance like Usher or Michael Jackson. If only I could hit a golf ball like Tiger Woods, play basketball like LeBron James, or hit a tennis ball like Serena Williams. If only I could sing like Josh Groban, Carrie Underwood, Beyonce, Chris Tomlin, or Lady Gaga (surely I didn’t just type that?) Invent something cool like Steve Jobs. Make a zillion dollars like Bill Gates or Warren Buffett. If only I had it made then I could be happy!! Have you ever had that thought? You might not admit it, but I know you have.
Over and over again God gives us reminders that “stuff” nor “status” will fulfill us or make us happy. In Ecclesiastes, we can read about the search for meaning that was undertaken by the richest man who ever lived, Solomon. He writes,
8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire! 9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless– like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11 NLT)
Solomon went for it. We think, “If I had… Then I would…” Well, there was no “if” for Solomon. He had all the resources in the world at his fingertips and he went for it. At the conclusion of his experiment he said, “It’s worthless, meaningless.” There is no sustaining satisfaction in the “stuff” or “status” of this life.
For those who get irritated at me always quoting from the Bible to try and hammer home my point, let me read from this morning’s news. “British Fashion Designer Alexander McQueen Found Dead.” There you go. I had never heard of Lee Alexander McQueen before today, but I’ve spent some time reading about the man and he was quite a “Star” from what I gather. A “creative genius” in the fashion industry. I’ve read that phrase over and over again.
He grew up the son of a taxi driver and school teacher, loved fashion, and made it big. No, really BIG. All of the high profile beautiful people wanted to wear his clothes to the Grammys, the Oscars, and other high profile functions. Here’s a sample of some of his achievements.
* Named head designer at Givenchy in 1996.
* British Designer of the Year. Four times between 1996-2003.
* Gucci Group bought 51% of his company in 2000.
* International Designer of the Year.
* Honored by Queen Elizabeth as Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire on June 13, 2006.
What a life! Success? Check! Money? Check! Fame? Check! Notoriety? Check! Then why did Alexander slip into his room, put a noose around his neck, and slowly slip away last night? Some people that I’ve read today have shared their ideas. First, his mother, whom he dearly loved, passed away last week. His dear friend, Isabella Blow, the woman who discovered him, died three years ago, also from suicide. Isabella drank “weed killer” after she learned that she had ovarian cancer. It wasn’t the first time she had attempted to take her own life.
I heard this past week that the number one reason women in the U.K. visit the Emergency Room is attempted suicide. It is the 2nd leading cause of men to visit the Emergency Room. I also heard that suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people ages 10-24 right here in Oklahoma. It’s not just high profile, seemingly successful people who take their own life. If you are like most people then any time someone takes their life it is a tragedy. An incomprehensible, unexplainable tragedy. But when someone like Alexander McQueen takes their life it raises a whole new set of questions. “Why would someone who has everything going for him take his own life? Why would someone who is living the dream of the masses choose to check out?” Alex Geana from The Huffington Post asks,
Much like the sudden and shrouded death of Heath Ledger we are left grappling, trying to understand what loneliness needs to overcome; so that someone this amazing would need to take their own life. Outside looking in. Lee Alexander McQueen had it all, yet he clearly didn’t agree. (Alex Geana, The Huffington Post, February 11, 2010
“Outside looking in. Lee Alexander McQueen had it all, yet he clearly didn’t agree.” Jesus had some advice for the people of His day. I believe His words are just as relevant and powerful today. Listen to what Jesus said,
36 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? 37 Is anything worth more than your soul? (Mark 8:36-37 NLT)
We can learn much from the lives of people like Lee Alexander McQueen and his friend, Isabella Blow. As successful as each were they were never satisfied, never fulfilled. We so easily become entrenched in the pursuit of those things and experiences that we believe will lift us above the mundane. Solomon was right, “Everything under the sun is meaningless” when it comes to providing for us “ultimate meaning and significance in life.” We have to look to the Son to find purpose, contentment, fulfillment, and salvation for this life and the one to come. Don’t let the lesson of Lee Alexander slide on by without you stopping to consider your own life.
In His Steps,
a lesson learned from Lee McQueen