Learning to Love at Chuck E. Cheese’s
I wrote the majority of this post eight years ago. I previously had a personal blog where I would review movies and albums, talk about sports, and rant about bad drivers. You know…the basics. Occasionally, I would delve into something a bit more “important” – like learning to love my neighbor, for example.
When I wrote this, I had recently been to a birthday party for a fully grown human man at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Yes, you read that correctly. A grown up – an adult – chose to have their birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Eight years later and I am still having problems fully processing that fact, which only reinforces in my mind the need to revisit this post. As you will see below, there is a streak of judgmental superiority running through me that needs confronting on a nearly daily basis.
Can I love my neighbor at Chuck E. Cheese?
I hate Chuck E. Cheese’s. Hate is not a strong enough word. I loathe it in totality. It is a loud, unpleasant, wasteful, soul sucking place that is devoid of anything remotely approaching decent, let alone good. It attracts the loudest, most unpleasant, most wasteful, soulless people in the world. They come in throngs, like Uruk Hai on their way to Helm’s Deep. (Nerdy Lord of the Rings reference for the uninitiated.) The patrons coalesce to form a massive, grotesque new organism that heats up the room and fouls the air with its presence. It is a destination I would not wish upon my worst enemy.
That moment my pride slapped me in the face…
Yet I am worse. I am proud, arrogant, and full of disdain. I do not love my neighbor like I should. Jesus said to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and if I believe that to be true then I am not measuring up. No. Scratch that. I am face first, firmly on the ground. I haven’t even started the process of measuring up.
I’ve known for some time that I am not a people person and I joke about it regularly. “I don’t like people” has escaped my lips many times. It’s all said in jest, of course, but deep down a part of me knows that it is true. Pathetically true. I am a Pharisee. I am convinced of my own worth and abilities and I am blind to the valuable human life right next to me. To my eyes, that Chuck E. Cheese’s patron doesn’t look like much on the outside, but inside, God created that annoying person playing Skee Ball in His image. That person is eternally valuable to God. He loves them enough that He died for them. And I look at them like they are beneath me – a waste of my time and energy!
If I am going to learn how to truly love my neighbor, then more visits to Chuck E. Cheese’s* are in order. If I can love people there, I can love them anywhere.
*Perhaps your Chuck E. Cheese’s is CiCi’s Pizza or Ryan’s Steakhouse. McDonald’s or Walmart. Or traffic. You get the point. It could be anywhere.
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5 thoughts on “Learning to Love at Chuck E. Cheese’s”
A couple of thoughts:
1. Everyone should watch Jim Gaffigan’s bit about McDonalds. It’s funny and a brilliant-yet-subtle commentary on our society.
2. I once saw an adult woman knock a kid down who was in her way while she was both playing skee ball and eating. It was gross, no matter how competitive a skee ball game may be.
3. This is a humbling article. Well done.
Several years ago at a birthday party I wore a t-shirt to Chuck E. Cheese that had the word “staff” printed on the back. A woman tried to hand me her child’s dirty diaper so I would throw it away for her. The last 10 years of therapy have been expensive, but I am happy to report that I am making progress.
Wal-mart is this place for me. I despise everyone in there.
Strong words, of course, Phill, but you make a powerful point, one that can have strong application to many places, people, hobbies, preferences, etc. To love like Jesus loves is where we all long to go, deep down, to be more like Him, but what we so frequently resist on the way. I’m thankful for His patience. Thank you for the article.
P.S. I’ve only been to Chuck E. Cheese a couple of times. I can take it or leave it. I much prefer to go with the grandkids rather than by myself.
I have been to Chuck E. Cheese three times in my life. Once when I was eight and the other two times as an adult with my nephews. When I was a kid, it was the most wonderful place on earth. As an adult, while I did enjoy playing video games with those little guys, it wasn’t a fraction of the paradise on earth I had imagined. It was with this realization that “I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.”