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Posts Tagged ‘Disney’

Beauty-and-the-Beast1

Beauty and the Beast has been my personal favorite Disney story for many years now.  If you know my husband, it’s easy to see why I identify.  Kidding! Ok, maybe just a little truth there.

The truth is, about 20 years ago, we both started out as beasts.  It was nothing but the Lord who has made us more like the Beauty and less Beastly to one another over the course of time and trials.

A lot of reviews have already been written about this long-awaited real-life remake.  Rather than do that, I just want to focus on one particular aspect that many might miss if they are not paying attention.

Belle is trying to reason through how the living objects in the castle must feel about their sentence of not being human again.  She says something to the effect of, “I can see why he (the beast) deserved this, but you – you did nothing wrong.”

It is at that point that Mrs. Potts pipes up like only a talking tea kettle can do and, from my perspective, speaks the most important line of the entire movie.  She quickly responds without even a second to bask in the expected hesitation, groveling, or self-victimization and says, “You’re right deary, we did nothing…” (when the beast was but a boy grieving over the loss of his mother and became the victim of an abusive, self-absorbed father.)

There is so much to learn from the attitude that Mrs. Potts’ character displays in that one single exchange.  Here’s what we can take from it and perhaps teach our children:

Firstly, no matter what your circumstance or how desperately unfortunate it is, you must never think of yourself as a victim.  A victim mentality will always hurt you.  Personal responsibility and owning up to our own failures in all circumstances is the key to being a person of character.

Next, if it is clear that someone else has been dealt a very difficult hand, we must consider their stressors over their responsibilities and act appropriately towards them.

For ourselves, we overlook the reasons we have to claim a victim status and rise up responsibly.  For others, we look for those same reasons and empathize when they act irresponsibly.  We do not compare circumstances, ever.  We do not compare reactions, grief, or evaluate and/or determine how any other person should be dealing with their own circumstance from an emotional standpoint.  The most important thing to do is serve them.  That’s what Mrs. Potts does.  That’s what her child does.  And, while they do not always agree with or even obey the beast in his unkind and ridiculous demands, they always seek to serve and help him in ways that are beneficial to him.

Finally, Mrs. Potts’s profound statement teaches us the often neglected truth that what we do not do is just as damaging as what we do wrong.  She says, “We did nothing…” (when this little boy’s whole world fell apart.)

That was an admission of guilt – a taking part in the making of a self-centered, unkind, now cursed, beast.  What we do not do for those who we know are suffering and being abused right before our eyes is what will convict and condemn us right alongside them if and when they become beasts in their own right.

Again, this idea does not erase personal responsibility for the beasts of the world.  Each man is wholly responsible for his own actions, always.  What this perspective does is it helps us to understand and own our personal responsibility toward those in need – namely children within our sphere of influence – before they morph into individuals who kill, steal, and destroy just like their teachers.

In other words, we do not get to dislike and avoid people we do not prefer and then turn around and blame them because they are bitter about it.  Our job is to see only our own faults and look past the faults of others in as much as we possibly can and love and serve them despite those faults.

What a great perspective to have.

– Own responsibility no matter how difficult your circumstances.

– Empathize, don’t criticize when others fail.

– Recognize that doing nothing is just as damaging as doing wrong to others.

That’s as true as it can be.

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heartrock

I always look for heart shaped shells at the ocean.  I remember God’s love when I find them.  When my husband and I went away for our anniversary a few weeks ago, he found a heart-shaped rock laying in the sand at the lake and gave it to me.  “He knows me,” I thought.  There is just something about being deeply known and loved anyway that is amazing.

We are not perfect.  For perfectionists and idealists like me, the weight of that reality can be exceedingly heavy on the daily.  We want things to be “right.”  We want people to be “right.”  We, for the love of God, just want to be “right.”

Right how?  Right in every way possible.  From thoughts to work to clothing to diet to beliefs, every single piece of life has to have order; reason; rightness.

Unfortunately, we live in a world full of the fall.  Things are wrong.  People are wrong.  We, too, are so often wrong.  In thought, in word, and in deed, we fail.  We strive to grow and change and sometimes we do.  But we fail in so doing.  We fail in the preparation.  We fail in the process.  We fail in ways we did not even think possible.  We get where we are going and we fail some more in new, more mature and modified ways.

I am not perfect.  You are not perfect.  The world is not perfect.  I know I am not the only one who is often overwhelmed with the weight of that reality most days.  Humanity is not “flawless” and anyone who wears that trending label is either insecure or in denial.  Be it pride or presumption, put that thought away.  Flawless will never,ever be a describing word for humans.

My biggest struggle – the strength and the weakness I go to battle with every single day – is a derivative of a perfectionist mindset.  How can I strive to be better while learning to be content where I am – where God has mercifully brought me for today?  How can I maintain motivation to be the very best I can while still remembering with great assurance that I really am ok with where I have come; where I am right this very moment?  How do I learn to accept myself without being prideful and where is the fountain I can drink from whose fuel feeds the hope that one day in my future life I will for even just one moment not feel so much like a failure?

Spoiler alert.

Disney answers with a fish.  “Finding Dory” lures us in with a fish who forever feels like a failure – a fish who feels anything but flawless.  Enter: Dory.  Enter: Lori.  They are one in the same.  Funny, the flawed fish is the figure who reels us in.  The forgetful fish is the kind of friend we all want to find.

The sequel to 2003’s “Finding Nemo” takes viewers from theater to theology.  For me, “Finding Dory” was the most thought provoking movie I have seen in some time.

Dory always forgets…everything.  From her direction to her dinner, Dory just cannot get it together and she knows it.  She perpetually apologizes because she knows it so much. Dory’s humility makes her dear but her deepness often also defeats her. The one thing this fish dreams of doing – the one thing she is trying so hard to keep remembering – is finding her daddy.  Dory lost her parents early in life and has made it her great ambition to find them.  Her fateful flaw keeps her forgetting (and, consequently, makes it her fault) but her tenacious love and dire determination given to her from her parents’ great example drive her to stop at nothing to dive in to her destiny.

After almost two hours of discovering and rediscovering herself, Dory does it.  She does not give up.  In the end, no failure or friendlessness or flaw keeps Dory from finding her fate.  When she finally finds her father and mother, she finds what most of us flawed failure fish flop around faithlessly forgetting.  Dory finds that despite all her flaws and failures, she is not forgotten.  Dory is deeply loved by her father and mother.  Because she does not forget them, she finds them.  Moreover, every single day since she left they have been waiting for her, laying our her favorite shells as a path to help her find home.  In them, Dory realizes that it is ok to forgive herself – to be herself – because being perfect is not paramount.  Dory does not have to obsessively say that she is sorry anymore.  Her worth is not based upon her performance.  Dory is loved because her parents love her and that is all.

Lori is loved because her heavenly Father loves her.  He is waiting for her to stop faithlessly forgetting and remember again.  You are loved because Christ loves you.  He is waiting for you to stop faithlessly forgetting and remember again.  Follow the path he has laid out.  Surely you will find him waiting.

We are not perfect.  There is just something about being deeply known and loved anyway that is amazing.

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cinder2

In her magnificent blue ball gown, Cinderella stood larger than life smack dab in the middle of New York City.  She was the first image we saw on the ubiquitous big screen advertisements near Time Square.

“Look how big she is!  Get a picture for the girls!”

While visiting a friend on Long Island, we decided to take a brief detour into the city before heading back home.  The last time we had been there together was on our honeymoon.  We ate gyros bigger than our faces and then hopped on a bus tour just to be silly.  We spent the day goofing around like the carefree twenty year-olds we’d been then.

“Welcome to New York City, the wealthiest city on earth…the most sought after shopping…the second largest library…the tallest building…the most beautiful models…the most talented performers…the most expensive condo…the most intricate architecture…”

As we passed landmark after landmark, the guide did not fail to paint each one better than the last.

We entered Greenwich Village.

“Over to the left is Grace Church, the most beautiful church in the world.”

I stopped.  I saw the church sitting sound, quiet, quaint amid the chaos.  She was beautiful; a haven of sorts constantly waiting to welcome with her elegant simplicity.  In that moment, I saw the stark contrast: man’s ignorance despite God’s immense, immense grace and beauty.

We stopped to shop in Chinatown and visited the World Trade Center memorials.  Five days later, it is not the big screens or the good food or the bustling people or the Chinese trinkets or the unique living spaces or the designer clothing that remain.  The image of that church alone is what lingers long in my mind.

After taking the girls to see the new Cinderella movie last night, I know why.  We all know the story of the girl who once was beautiful, loved, and adored but became the unfortunate orphan made to do all the dirty work; the rightful heir who was made into a slave by the evil ambition and fierce jealousy of those who hated her simply because of who she was.  Yet, after many years of difficult, humbling, harsh treatment she emerges as the most beautiful maiden the kingdom has ever seen.

“Why is it always the same story?”  asks my soon to be ten year-old daughter as we read the Bible together.

“What do you mean?”

“Every time it is the same.  There is always a good leader and a bad leader comes and gets jealous and tries to get rid of the good one.”

Ah.  The dilemma of good and evil.  Shall we ever escape its repetition?

We shall!  As Cinderella walked out to meet her king, so shall we.  Yet, Cinderella escaped before she left the place of humiliation and demoralization.  At the very end of Disney’s new old story, Cinderella does something profound.  Three simple words proved her character and the very reason why she was chosen.  Just as she turned to leave her lifelong prison, she uttered kindly, “I forgive you” to those who had done the unimaginable to her.

At the end of our story, we, too shall walk out of the most difficult life we could have imagined – that is, our own – and we, too, will be met by Our King if we prove faithful.  Not only he, but also the cheering fanfare of the most expensive and beautiful church there ever was or ever will be – that is, His people in all of their vast diversity.

If there were only one thing to see in New York City, I would will it to be Grace Church.  If there were only one movie clip to watch from Cinderella, I would choose to see her walk out in white to a million warm welcomers.  That way, I could put them together and somehow imagine just what it will be like when I, an often worn and ragged servant wandering among a sea of people, goes to be with my King to live happily ever after.

Until then, perhaps, we all ought to take Cinderella’s advice.

Have courage.  Be kind.  Forgive those who do not deserve it.  For that, friends, is how God’s beloved children experience true freedom.

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maleficent


Surprising as it was creative, Angelina Jolie’s new movie Maleficent captured my heart. Expecting a dark story line about a sinister witch, I came out reminding myself never to jump to hasty conclusions about either sketchy or squeaky clean characters until the whole story is told.

Disney hit the mark once again successfully finding a way to make identifying with their main character effortless and natural.  Let’s face it, unless you’re under 16 and going through a Gothic phase, Maleficent is an unlikely role model at first glance.  As a Christian, home schooling mom of three young girls who has never once been tempted to paint my fingernails with jet black polish, making Maleficent my mentor is no small feat.  Nevertheless, Disney managed to do just that.  *Spoiler alert* Here’s how:

Maleficent did do something terribly selfish and wrong as we were schooled by the original Sleeping Beauty  – this much is true.  It is what was done to her before that act that changes one’s heart about who she really is underneath.  An unimaginable evil had been done to her by the only man she’d ever trusted – by the only man she’d ever loved.  He had all of her and he stole the part of herself she held most dear for his own greed.

Maleficent took revenge.  She made sure the pain she had experienced did not pale in comparison to the pain she inflicted.  Still, two wrongs don’t make a right.  Maleficent learns as much after the fact.

When Maleficent was maimed by the one she loved, she was still very strong and powerful, but, she was no longer free.  She allowed the immense pain felt in her heart and the entrapment of her circumstances to turn her whole world black, color her decisions dark, and drive her to do evil.  She was no longer happy or kind or full of joy as she had always been before.  Because of the magnitude of what she suffered, she forgot how to be who she really was – the leader who protected others from evil.

That is the crux of the story.  That is how Disney wins.  Everyone wants to believe they are a good person who, once in a while, does bad things when seriously provoked.  No one wants to believe they are a bad person who is acting out their true character when evil emerges from within.  Unless, of course, they are innately evil in which case they may identify more with the king in this film.

It got me to thinking…are there really good people and bad people?  Is it really that simple?  Many will say, “Yes.”  I believe the answer is, “No.”  There are only changed people and unchanged people.  By the end of the movie, Maleficent was among the changed.  She was as beautiful as she had ever been inside and out, only now she was mature in her beauty and her character.  I guess she had to be an ugly duckling for a moment in time in order to get there.  I guess we all do on our way to forgiveness, grace, and maturity.  One cannot grow in grace if she need never find a reason to extend it.  She cannot learn to forgive if she is not first grievously offended.  One cannot learn selflessness without having to sacrifice.  She cannot fully mature if she is not tested and proven through a whole life of trials, failures, successes, blessing and adversity.  Even Jesus Christ in all his perfection was not fully mature in obedience until he walked through his suffering.

“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him…” ~Hebrews 5:8-9

Maleficent’s anger and and revenge only lasted a moment.  She was not the monster we all thought she was all these years.  She was simply hurt.  As the old adage goes, hurt people hurt people.  But she learned how to love truly through forgiveness, grace, and mercy…just like non-Gothic stay at home moms who love Jesus and are afraid of witches.  Matter of fact, I believe that is the only way it has ever been done.

Bravo, Disney.  Maleficent was magnificent!

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