One of my favorite shows growing up was Cheers! It was a fixture on Thursday nights. I would get home from my Boy Scout meeting, finish up any homework that I wasn’t putting off until Friday morning and be in front of the television by 9:00 to watch the show. Over time, it’s become more than a TV show – it’s an icon of pop culture and an important memory of the 1980’s for many. Think of Carla’s brawling nature, Cliff’s moronic wisdom, Frasier’s idiosyncrasies, Woody’s ignorance, and of course Norm’s witty commentary as he walked to a barstool that now resides in the Smithsonian.
I was living in London, England when the finale aired in the US. It was going to be aired in England, but not until after I flew back. Realizing this, I made arrangements to have the show recorded. My family also recorded the Tonight Show which aired after the finale. I’m glad they did, because for me the lasting memory of Cheers! was something I had learned in an interview with the writers on this second show.
Sam Malone was not my favorite character. As a teenager dealing with weight and esteem problems, his smooth talking, womanizing mannerisms were pretty foreign to me. I didn’t connect with the character, and in episodes the focused on him, I generally tuned out. Why this fascination with a guy who lacked depth and character? Then one of the writers described Sam, and suddenly some things made sense to me. Look at the character’s name: Sam Malone. If you run it together, losing one of the M’s you get – Sam Alone.
The writer went on to explain that this was not a coincidence. It was done intentionally to help bring an insight into his character. Sam – the former member of the Boston Red Sox, owner of the popular bar, local celebrity, handsome ladies man and the owner of a sweet head of hair was far from the great man he tried so desperately to be. In truth, the bravado, womanizing and bravado were nothing more than a cover Sam used to hide the simple truth of his life. He was alone.
It’s hard to feel sorry for Sam, mainly because he doesn’t let the emptiness of his life deter him from his attempts to fill it with the wrong things. As you look at the character you can see how jokes, sex, and immaturity have become his replacement for real discovery and growth. Of course, Sam’s shortcomings helped to bring humor to his character, but for many of us who live our lives in a similar fashion, the sitcom style happy ending is nowhere to be found.
What do we use to fill in the gaps of our life? We all have sensitive areas – places needing attention, repair and growth. Are we fixing them or merely filling them with temporary solutions to hide the pain? What do you use? Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, work, sex, hobbies, complaining, gossip, or simple avoidance are some of the many options we choose. These things can dull our pain and serve as enough of a distraction to keep us going for any amount of time. However, they do not provide an ultimate solution, nor do they align with the purpose God created us to fulfill. Consider again the words of Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” God doesn’t intend for us to go it alone – and He has made it possible for us to never have to experience it. The Spirit of the Lord has been sent to sustain us – to be there with us every day of our lives. In Him, we can overcome whatever life brings us. We align our lives with the will of God and we permanently fill in the gaps that sin and our shortcomings have created.
May the Lord of All who desires us to live our lives in the fullness of His promises keep us ever mindful of the joy that comes from seeking Him above all things, now and forever.