I write to you after spending three very magical and tiring days in Disneyland. We’ve done princesses and rollercoasters and traumatized our children (the older ones on Tower of Terror, the youngest one on the ladybugs in the Bug’s Life area). Hopefully, the happy memories stand out more than the few minutes they spent in tears. Sorry, kids! (as a funny side note, my cousins Mike and Paul Barker traumatized me at Disneyland when I was two by taking my brother and I on Pinocchio.)
As I was thinking about my blog post while in The Happiest Place on Earth, I contemplated on the fairytale that life, and especially life within Mormonism, seems to be. You go to church and everyone seems happy and are constantly talking about all the good we can be blessed with, even when life is hard. We talk about how happy the gospel makes us and how it completes our life. We get married in buildings that look and feel like castles and even tell our youth to wait for a prince who will take them to the temple. After that, you’re simply supposed to live “happily every after”. The end!
We seem to forget about the villains and danger and peril that happen along the way. Or we minimize them because “we have the spirit to help us. ” And while that can certainly help bring us peace in our hardest moments, I’m not sure it’s going to win a battle for us. To do so requires more personal action than just prayer.
I think that there are a lot of people who believe that as long as they are being righteous, they get their ride into the sunset. The unfortunate reality check is that there is a lot of bad stuff that happens to people. Does this mean their fairytale is ruined?
No. It’s just part of their story, or, their fairytale.
While watching the newest Cinderella film a few weeks ago, I (along with millions of others, I hope) was struck with the message that Cinderella’s mother left with her. “Have courage and be kind”.
And then suddenly the brakes were forcefully slammed on and everything went dark around us. As quickly as we stopped, we were zooming backwards, seeing the sunset we were driving toward get further and further away so quickly. And then our car was redirected to a dark and dreary forest. I felt so sad and helpless. Goodbye happiness. Hello depression forest.
Looking back at the four years of driving on our new road, I’ve been able to more clearly understand, though not perfectly, that it can’t be rainbows and unicorns and sunsets all of the time. And it’s likely that those happy things are more of an occasional mix in, to give us some relief from the hard stuff and get us through what is coming.
BUT, the good news is that we can still have rainbows and unicorns and even riding into the sunset, it will just be mixed in with many battles and villains.
The loss of our sons was a years-long near-constant battle with a gigantic dragon. For now, four years later, it is a dragon that sleeps for long periods and then returns for yet another battle. I’ve come to accept that it is an unslayable dragon that occasionally demands a fight, and I’ve gotten used to fighting. Yet, it still takes a tremendous amount of courage to step out onto that battlefield.
Many us have unslayable dragons. We know these dragons well and the energy it takes to fight even a little battle.
I hope that all of us can remember to have courage in our hardest battles and, beyond that, that we will be kind, as all around us are fighting battles as well.
Life certainly is a fairytale.
Whatever the ever after may be.
Thank you for opening up your heart. I hope you find joy someday. I know my Disneyland has changed, but not nearly as deeply as yours.