Thoughts on Vegas

On the flight back from Vegas we sat next to a very chatty man whose very first question was “win anything?” I smiled and then told him that we actually hadn’t gambled at all while there. Taken aback he asked if we at least had a couple of good drinks. I laughed this time and told him that we actually hadn’t had any alcohol while in Vegas either. His eyes bugged out a little and he started taking us in again. I think he was briefly wondering if we could be very secular Amish people (I mean, Christopher’s beard is pretty beast these days). 😉 We told him that we weren’t against drinking or gambling, but that we just got busy with site seeing that we didn’t even realize that we were forgetting to partake in two of Vegas’s favorite past times. Eventually our seat buddy’s shock wore off and we continued chatting about other things throughout the flight.

fabulous las vegas

We didn’t go to Vegas planning not to drink or gamble. But we also didn’t go to Vegas in order to do those things. We have Tunica just south of us if we want to hit up a casino. There was just SO much that we wanted to do and see while we were in Vegas that we didn’t want to “waste” time in front of a slot machine.

venice vegas

I want to be clear: I have no issue with drinking (as long as the person doing it is 21 years old and not getting behind the wheel of a car). Personally, I don’t drink alcohol regularly and I’ve never been drunk or buzzed or light headed from drinking. I don’t say this to imply that I am superior to anyone else because I’m most definitely not. It’s just a personal choice I made a long time ago. I have the hardest time controlling the words that come out of my mouth sometimes (not bad things, just ridiculous oversharing usually, haha!) without the help of alcohol that the idea of being any more out of control of my words is not okay with me.

And I have no issue with gambling. To me it’s just entertainment. Christopher and I spend $20 to go see a movie in the theater. So for us to spend $20 on penny slots at a casino for an evening of fun seems totally reasonable.

gelato2

But it’s the excess. The inability to practice self control. The lack of moderation. There is so much excess in the American culture. This is my issue with not only drinking and gambling, but so many other things. We seem to be lacking self control in this culture where we live. We eat and eat. We spend and spend. This is something that I already know about the American culture (because my, oh my, I had a hard time with reverse culture shock when I first moved here), but Vegas was such an amplified version of this. So much excess.

christopher photographing ceiling

One afternoon in Vegas we heard a 20-something guy in passing talking to his friend and telling him that he didn’t understand how he could be in Vegas and still feel so lonely. I’m not one to hit someone over the head with the Bible, but I so wanted to reach for that young man’s hand and tell him about Jesus and the hope and peace that come with Him. And looking back, maybe I should have.

Excess doesn’t bring true fulfillment. Having everything that we think we want, doesn’t bring joy. Being surrounded by all the glitz and glamour of this world, doesn’t make the hurts of this life go away. 

eiffel tower2

Don’t get me wrong, Vegas was so much fun to visit! We’re glad we went and got to see one of those most iconic places in the USA. But it definitely brought up a lot of conversations for Christopher and I as we processed everything we saw. It reminded us that we don’t want to live in excess. That we want to be good stewards of what we have. And that we want to bless others around us.

fabulous las vegas2

I don’t want to come across as judgmental because truly that isn’t my intention (or even my place). We genuinely did have a great time in Vegas. This post is just me trying to sift through the thoughts and conversations Christopher and I have had since our trip. 🙂 Hope you guys have a stellar weekend!

Love Rach

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24 responses to “Thoughts on Vegas

  1. It is true that the United States is the land of excess. I don’t think Las Vegas could exist and succeed in any other part of the world. And while it is completely over the top, it’s an incredible thing in and of itself. It’s pretty amazing they built that city from nothing to what it is today. When you’re walking along the strip, it’s unsettling to see all the homeless people asking for money (although you’ll find this in any city…I just especially took note of this on the strip for some reason) and seeing people drink those enormous alcohol slushies that for sure will make them feel sick later was a turn off. I’m not against drinking or gambling, but I did very little of either while I was there (although we did find a really fun electronic roulette machine at the Bellagio. That was “our” game for three days). There is so much more that Vegas has to offer that your days don’t have to revolve around drinking or gambling if you don’t want them too. As long as you have self-control, Vegas can be a really enjoyable place, and I for one plan on going back! But, it is strange to think that while some people are experiencing the highs of the highs, others are experiencing the lows of the lows and they’re all crammed together on a 4 mile-long strip.

  2. I get what you mean. Justin and I dealt with a little reverse culture shock when we returned from China (though we weren’t really gone as long or completely acclimated to China, so I’m sure it was nothing like what you experienced!). Just going to restaurants and seeing plates loaded high with food and people “well-endowed” around the middle made me feel so sad as I thought about people (beggars, especially) who we encountered in China who had next to nothing. We have so much…and it only makes us want more! I can imagine INDULGENCE to be a huge trademark of Vegas culture. You hearing that lonely guy passing by makes me wonder if there are many Vegas missionaries out there–there must be, right? People in my campus ministry when I was in undergrad used to go witness to people in bars and standing in line for clubs on Saturday night. There must be people in Vegas who do the same thing? It’s a good reminder though…that even if we spend all of our cash and go for every indulgence possible, it’s still not fulfilling the way that Jesus is. 🙂

    • I wondered the same thing while we were in Vegas (about whether or not there were missionaries there). There is such a need for them, for sure.

      It really is so overwhelming to move back to the States after time in China. Even the amount of time that you guys were there was definitely long enough to make a life long impact! It changes the way you see things. It makes the excess here in the States so much more obvious.

  3. GREAT POST!!! Everyone is allowed to do what THEY prefer! I myself have never been drunk or buzzed from alcohol, but I do drink a frozen drink on special occasions because they taste like dessert to me. 🙂 I’m also not a gambler… I am frugal and if I want to actually spend money on entertainment, I want it to be something I will make a memory doing and not just waste it, ya know?

    Love reading your posts!

  4. I actually had my bachelorette party in Las Vegas (had bridesmaids all over the country and it was a central, cheap to fly to location for everyone), and I’ve never been a big drinker either, and even if you don’t hardly drink or gamble, there is SO much to do and see. We did a lot of the free and cheap shows and tours and managed to do a whole weekend for not a lot of money too! And the highlight was that we did a wedding-themed scavenger hunt that was so sweet of them to assemble. 🙂

    • That wedding themed scavenger hunt sounds like so much fun! What a great idea. 🙂 And you’re so right – there really is a lot of fun things to do in Vegas besides just drinking and gambling. We saw SO many wedding parties! It’s definitely a popular spot for bachelor/bachelorette parties!

  5. I had to laugh out loud at the part about you struggling with words while sober let alone if you were drunk. I’ve had my fair share of one too many drinks, but not in many, many years. I no longer drink, simply because I do not like the taste. Once every blue moon I’ll partake, but it’s been over a year now since my last sip!

  6. I don’t like the casino part of Vegas. It’s because I hate the smoke and it’s always soooo cold! I just don’t love casinos! I do love site seeing and I love the shows! We went to phantom of the opera once and it was fabulous! We also saw cirque du soleil. I forgot to email you back and tell you how many times I’ve been. I really don’t remember. My first time was when I was super young. We did all the amusement parks the and drove to universal and disney for the day.

    • Ahh, the Phantom of the Opera would be awesome to see live! That’s on the list of possible shows we might see on Broadway when we go to NYC. I’ve never seen Cirque Du Soleil, but I hear AMAZING things about them! ​

  7. Rach, I’m so glad you posted this!!!! I love that you guys went with your own game plan and didn’t fall captive to what that place is known for! 🙂 And that you got to share that with that guy on the plane as well as with each other. It’s super encouraging to see you guys walking in the wisdom of God!!!!

    Also…Thanks for sharing that conversation you overheard. That is such a reality check. We are ALL that guy. Thanks be to God that it doesn’t have to stay or end that way. 🙂

  8. I completely agree that as a nation we lack so much self control. I love that you wrote out exactly how you were feeling about it all. I am the same way about the over sharing from time to time so I get that. 😉 I am glad that you guys had a fun time doing what you really wanted to be doing, and not just what everyone else is doing.

  9. The excess in American culture is out of control. Personally, I think it’ll be our downfall someday. I’m not opposed to gambling per se, but I’m not a fan of it either. I worked at a casino one summer in college and I would see the “regulars” there, which made me sad. Sometimes they would bring their kids and the kids would hang out in the lobby while the parents went all zombie-like in front of the slot machines. And I’d see people come out far too often to hit up the ATM for more cash. Very sad.

    • Oh wow, that is so very sad. Our lack of self control leads to addiction so quickly. And the way that affects us and those around us is huge. I can’t imagine how sad it was to watch those kids just sit there and wait on their parents in the lobby. I can definitely see why gambling is distasteful to you. I’d feel the same way if I saw it day in and day out!

  10. “Excess doesn’t bring true fulfillment. Having everything that we think we want, doesn’t bring joy. Being surrounded by all the glitz and glamour of this world, doesn’t make the hurts of this life go away. “– how true are these words of yours! I’m sure this post will touch many!

  11. i like to go to vegas (it’s been a few years) and i don’t drink there or gamble. i have done both but obviously not to excess. i didn’t feel out of place or anything, but then again people don’t talk to me on planes, haha. it’s fun to visit.

  12. Oh girl, this post!! I love everything you said. I always considered Vegas “not for me” because I don’t drink as an activity (I’ll have like one drink…but rarely), and while I’m not against gambling, it doesn’t really interest me. So it really is neat to look at your Vegas posts and see that it doesn’t have to be about that (especially because there are so many deals on flights from here to Vegas!) I love everything you said about excess too…no amount of money/stuff/activities can change our hearts or fill the space that is meant for Jesus.

    • !!!!! Flights are cheap for you guys to Vegas?! Because they are cheap from Memphis to Vegas too!!! I am seeing a joint friend trip to Vegas in the future! I didn’t think we’d go back to Vegas, but if we had a reason to go (like hanging out with you guys), we’d totally go! 🙂

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