October 3, 2007
Close to where I live in Atlanta are two malls with big name stores and lots of customers. Recently, a well known celebrity by the name of Britney Spears visited the one called Phipps Plaza. Why on earth would Britney Spears leave Los Angeles and come to Atlanta to shop?
“To escape stress, the paparazzi and to relax” was the answer.
Now I know you probably spend little time wondering “What's Britney going to get into today,” but since every newspaper and many television and radio talk shows cover her adventures, you may hear about her whether you want to or not.
During her visit to Atlanta, Ms. Spears was a brunette (rather than her usual blond) and somewhat incognito such that “unless you talked with her few realized it was really her they passed [as they were] walking.”
What else, you may wonder, did Britney Spears do other than shop while in Atlanta?
Well, apparently she made arrangements to go “clubbing” on the Saturday night of her visit. (I imagine we'll hear later how that went—let’s hope some ugly stories don’t come from that night.) Meanwhile, back home in Los Angeles, prosecutors filed a hit and run and driving without a license charge against her. Earlier in the week we learned she had to have daily drug tests to determine if she could keep her kids. We now know that Ms. Spears failed those tests and lost custody of her children.
Everywhere Britney Spears goes there seems to be bad news. When she walks out the door, a parade of photographers follows her to chronicle her every step. When she gets in a car, something goes wrong. Constant commentary on her life and her performance all bring back critical comments. So maybe a nice weekend in Atlanta was just what she needed?
But shopping and clubbing was all she wanted to do?
On a recent Sunday at church a friend was complaining that her daughter, after two years of marriage, was ”bored silly” and “wanted to go somewhere.” Apparently she was complaining to her husband that “we don't ever do anything.”
But then something wonderful happened in this marriage. The following Monday someone asked the husband what he and his wife did over the weekend. There was a beautiful dissonance in his reply when you consider it in the context of our hectic, overly stimulated culture: “We planted new fall flowers Saturday and just sat around and read, watched some television, and didn't do much of anything—it was great.”
When we recognize the gift of life, the gift of friends, the gift of a spouse, the gift of a job—all of which can be predictable, routine or even “boring” at times—we find voids filled and life more in balance. When we pause and challenge ourselves to see the manifold evidences of grace all around us, we know life is more than “not so bad.” It’s blessed.
Britney Spears, in spite of recent criticism of her work and life, has talent, tons of money and great potential. But sadly, on a weekend in Atlanta, Ms. Spears had nothing to do but shop and go clubbing.
We all know people, ordinary people, who seem to have nothing to do and just drive around, bored. I hope Britney Spears finds balance in her life and ultimately the God who alone can fill the void in her heart. I hope a lot of people who watch her life understand it’s not as glamorous and exciting as it might seem. Sure the attention must be a rush. But I wonder if she would love, if only for a Saturday afternoon, to sit around, plant flowers, read a book, and watch some television like regular ole Joes like me?
Maybe one day Britney Spears will get to experience regular life and enjoy it. Maybe one day we’ll stop being bored long enough to be content (cf. Phil. 4:10-13) and admit we wouldn't trade places with her for anything.
John Young is host of “The John Young Show” heard on WNIV in Atlanta. Contact John at email@example.com.