Today marks exactly three months since I packed all my necessities (and some extras) into my Kia Optima and headed to Louisiana to begin a new life (stopping for a night in Gator Country on the way, of course).
I remember lying in bed the night before my newfangled adventure tossing and turning with nerves and excitement. The whole transition to New Orleans happened fast…so fast that I didn’t have adequate time to explain the situation to a lot of people…they sort of just had to hear about my soon-to-be endeavor through word of mouth. This mustn’t have been too surprising, though. I tend work that way. I’m usually headed out the door the second I hear God’s call…sometimes even before He’s given me the green light...I know, I’m working on that…
Needless to say, I do extremely well with change. New things excite me—new adventures to be had, new people to be met, and new thrills to seek keep me on my A-game—focusing on everything but myself—which, for the most part is a great thing.
I was wide-eyed and bushy-tailed during my first week in New Orleans. I explored like a pioneer on a perpetual treasure hunt. Everywhere I turned, there was a new gem to collect and appreciate. To make matters more interesting, I’ve had friends rolling through here every couple of weeks, which has reignited my thrill for the city each time.
Thrills always come at the beginning. They awaken excitement and open potential doors of possibility. But as my three-month mark passes through, so does the reality that every-day-New-Orleans just isn’t as exciting anymore. And isn’t it this way with everything in life? New romances, new friendships, new hobbies, even new foods? A fading thrill is a natural part of life—a fun aspect of it—but nonetheless, one that can cause frustration.
C. S. Lewis talks about this concept in Mere Christianity when exploring the idea of “being in love.” He says, “In this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last. The thrill you feel on first seeing some delightful place dies away when you really go to live there.”
We can get frustrated at the idea of losing a thrill. I can walk around New Orleans and choose to see the same things over and over again, allowing myself to become accustomed to the things that I once marveled at. But Lewis continues with an interesting point, “If you go through with it [the thrill], the dying away of the first thrill will be compensated for by a quieter and more lasting kind of interest. What is more (and I can hardly find words to tell you how important I think this), it is just the people who are ready to submit to the loss of the thrill and settle down to the sober interest, who are then most likely to meet new thrills in some quite different direction.”
After reading this quote, I couldn’t help but rest in the truth in what Lewis is saying. Initial thrills are great, often pursued, but what about those quieter, more lasting kind of interests? If we are willing to submit to the initial thrill, how much sweeter will the deeper, more sober interest taste? Lewis continues, “…the man who has settled down to live in the beauty spot will discover gardening.”
As I sit at a coffee shop on Magazine St. and look out onto road that filled my stomach with butterflies three months ago, I can’t help but feel a sense of peace at the fact that the more time I spend here, the more quieter thrills I discover, and the deeper my appreciation grows. What once was an umbrella of over-stimulation and newness, is now a profound admiration for the little things…like the Tempeh Bacon sandwich at Hivolt that blows my taste buds out of the water, or the fact that Mojo plays old school R&B jams after 9pm, or the $5 coal-fired pizza special at Amici’s on Thursdays, or the fact that City Park has free Wi-Fi and electricity plugs outdoors that allow me to watch a movie under the stars while swinging on my favorite bench, or the sound of hundreds of Black-Bellied whistling ducks that play a symphony for me at Audubon Park, or the abnormal amount of Gator fans at Dat Dog every Saturday for college football…I can go on forever about my favorite little things about this city. But these new, little and lasting thrills only come with settling down and getting to know the more intimate aspects of the once-newness.
What’s the best part of it all? The reality that these small and sobering thrills will never cease. New ones will surface every once in a while as I explore more intimately. This naturally leads me to think about relationships. What a beautiful journey it is to get to know the innermost parts of someone…their quirks, their small joys, the way they raise their eyebrows or hold their fork as they eat. Marriage, if done well, can be an overwhelming journey of intimacy and new thrills.
As I walk with Jesus as His bride, I can’t help but think about the fact that I get this for the rest of eternity. Each moment is a chance to get to experience the Creator of the Universe in a deeper, more profound way. There will never, ever, be a day where I will stop learning about Him. His attributes are infinite, His Word is timeless, His mercies never cease. He can be found anywhere I decide to look. He is a fountain in which I can forever drink from…where I can find an abundant supply of fresh love, joy, and peace. Wherever, however and whenever I seek, I am sure to find.
Dear saints, God is so different, so contrary, so set apart from anything we know. Let Him thrill you each and every day. Meditate on His words, and let them come to life through a conversation with a friend, a blowing of the wind, a quack of a duck, a tune from a song or a taste on your lips.
Rejoice in the fact that because He is a God who always was, always is, and always will be, His thrill of you will never cease. It never has and it never will fade. He feels the way about you now that He did from the beginning of time—intense enough to die for and strong enough to redeem.