One Sunday morning I was taking my dog Walter out for a walk. As I was on the corner of the block, coming out of my apartment building I saw a guy dressed in a T-shirt and shorts walking with a young woman who was dressed quite nicer. She had on high heels and a short, red dress. Not exactly a Sunday brunch dress.
She could have been heading to a number of places, but I assumed what I guess most anyone else would—those were the clothes she had worn out the night before. She was taking “the walk of shame.”
One of my groomsmen recently said, “Taking dating advice from Jon is like taking financial advice from someone who just won the lottery.” He was joking (I think?) but I won’t deny that there is truth in that statement. So I don’t come at what I’m about to say as a relationship expert, or even someone to look at as an example. I come only with my heart and thoughts.
I’m in my late twenties and only recently married. I’ve lived in 3 different cities in the past 4 years. I know many people who married much younger than I did, and I know plenty of people around my age and older who are still single. I would never say that the married people are doing life better than single people. I would never say that they have accomplished more.
Even so, it seems we are in an age of meaningless, easy dating like never before. Apps on apps on apps of access to single people in your area. Dating sites that you mocked the thought of ever using in college become what you spend your evenings surfing through. I’ve seen people swipe through pictures on their phones faster than I can count.
Perhaps we have gotten really good at swiping right or left and become really bad at getting to the heart of the real matter.
I’m not even anti-online dating. I just think that we are by nature creatures that lack focus. We need constant distractions. Distractions from what the real issue is. The one we really want. The one we really need. We settle for distractions because it’s an easy, quick fix, but it never lasts. Using the same treatment to temporarily numb the pain or forget it for a while. It’s like being emotionally drunk.
We buy the right clothes and makeup to present ourselves in the best possible way. We spend money on cover charges and cab fare to get to the places where we want to display the versions of ourselves we’ve put so much effort into being. We buy drinks to get the courage to converse with strangers. If that seems to be working, we buy more drinks to keep the high going. If all goes perfectly, we end up in a bedroom with a companion for the night, and pay for their cab fare home.
And then we are alone again.
It’s quite an expensive way to be lonely.
I think it’s funny that we blatantly call it the “walk of shame” and wonder why it doesn’t fulfill us. When has shame ever made anyone feel good about themselves? When have shameful acts ever produced meaning? How many times will we keep trying the same methods that bring us the same results? Especially methods that leave us with less than when we began.
Some say that the definition of insanity is this: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you really want a healthy relationship in your life, it might come with some painful or annoying steps and changes. It might mean saying “no” more often. It might mean saying “yes” more often. It might mean that you have a lot of lonely walks home.
I feel like this sort of issue involves more than just one-night stands. We all seek out “one-night stands” in different areas of life. The desire to be successful in our career. The desire to be viewed as important. The desire to keep up with our friends and peers. There are many different types of quick fixes to much deeper problems.
It’s everywhere. It’s been described as a God-shaped hole in all of us. It’s the matter of being made for something more and choosing to be satisfied by so much less. And I guess it’s not really even satisfaction, it’s just a distraction.
You might meet some people that don’t seem to struggle with these sorts of desires, and I would say they are usually in denial or delusional. It’s a human desire to want to feel respected and accomplished. But it is human error to feed that desire with the kind of easy walks of shame we are presented with daily.
You are worth more than the approval of someone that will eventually stop texting you back. You are worth more than what your paycheck says. You are worth more than meaningless distractions that never work out. All of our hope for true purpose in this life cannot be found in a walk of shame.
Purpose is not defined by power. I believe that your purpose is defined only by the One who made you. And according to God, you are worth loving just as you are. You will never be less loved than you are now even if you never made another dime.
He’s walked out our shame for us already. He is the only one that could truly ever take it away.