For 43 years, Ken and Barbie were the perfect polyurethane couple.
Sure, four decades is a mind-numbingly long time to go steady. But everybody assumed that Ken would ultimately get his act together and pop the question.
Then suddenly, in 2004, in a move that even TMZ didn’t see coming, Barbie dumped Ken.
In a press release, the folks at the Mattel corporation who craft her fictional biography (her real name is Barbara Millicent Roberts, and she hails from Willows, Wisconsin) reassured the public that Ken and Barbie would spend “quality time apart” and “remain friends.” But it was clear the fantasy was over.
Barbie, in the meantime, took up with an Australian boogie boarder named Blaine. Even I must admit that Blaine looks pretty hot.
Ken wasn’t the only one who was crushed by this development. Barbie’s sales, which have always been extraordinary – it is estimated that three Barbie dolls are sold every second somewhere in the world – suddenly took a nose dive.
After two years the folks at Mattel had had enough. They decided that Ken was ready to win back his girlfriend.
According to reliable toy marketing sources, Ken began to work out. His body is now buff. He’s into new clothes. He’s even become “spiritual” – all in an effort to rekindle the love that he and Barbie used to share.
Ken began to appear on billboards across the country: “Barbie, I want you back.” “You’re the only doll for me.”
On Valentine’s Day 2011 it became official. Barbie and Ken are once again an item. Mattel purchased billboards in which Ken proclaimed, “Barbie, we may be plastic, but our love is real.”
Of course, even someone with the IQ of a Barbie doll knows that real love is more than skin deep. It has little to do with whatever money, chemistry, or self-improvement initiatives we bring to the table.
But the idea persists in Western culture that you’ve got be lucky to find love. And if you’re not lucky – if you weren’t born with Barbie’s looks or Blaine’s amazing hair – then you’d better make your own luck by buying the Malibu Ken wardrobe or captivating others with a remarkable personality. Otherwise you may have to go through life alone.
And that would be a tragedy. All of us are desperate to experience true love. We know we cannot live without it.
Yet our own experiences of love are inevitably conditional. We tend to love others only as long as they love us back. There is a mercenary quality to our relationships. We love others in the hope and expectation of being loved in return.
It’s pretty clear what we need: More than anything else, we need someone who doesn’t need us.
There is only one such person in the universe. It is God.
God loves us for our own sake, not his. The apostle John puts it this way: “This is love: Not that we loved God, but that he loved us.” (I John 4:10).
From before the beginning of time, God knew us and loved us into existence.
Which means that the fantasy we have always yearned for, incredibly, just happens to be Reality.