Sunday, July 14, 2013

What Disney Could Teach the Church

Our whole family was driving around today, listening to the Tinkerbell soundtrack. Cadence convinced me to check it out on our last trip to the library. I'd read the song list and knew what we were in for, but as the lyrics played I was compelled to say, "What the heck does that mean anyway? 'I can fly to my heart?!' Just a bunch of fairy mumbo-jumbo." I whispered this to Brian because Cadence was enjoying it from the backseat. He laughed and I felt justified and cool. You know, the skeptic who knows better. The kid who's already "over" Santa. Just waiting for all the starry-eyed dreamers to catch up. 

Then I remembered what I'm reading in a book called The Journey of Desire. In it, Eldredge claims that most Christians have inherited a twisted version of Christianity's teaching about desire - so twisted, it's now backwards. Here's the truth:

Christianity takes desire seriously, far more seriously than the Stoic or the mere hedonist. Christianity refuses to budge from the fact that man was made for pleasure, that his beginning and his end is a paradise, and the goal of living is to find Life…Christianity recognizes that we have desire gone mad within us. But it does not seek to rectify the problem by killing desire, rather, it seeks the healing of the desire, just as it seeks the healing of every other part of our human being.

However, many of us have heard something more like this: kill desire and take up your duties. The weird thing is, Jesus's story about the prodigal son teaches that the dutiful ones (older brother), don't experience God's embrace, while the younger, who's desires took him down a destructive path, eventually did. A.k.a. the stupid dreamer. The romantic. The princess-crazed little girl and the ninja hero-boy. The ones I easily inwardly scoff. 

What's happened to me? When did I get hurt so badly, I decided it was too risky to long for something? When did I start looking down my nose at romantics because I believed myself enlightened? And when has enlightenment ever meant giving up? We're told to be ready to answer the question, "Where did you get this hope you have in you?" (1 Pet. 3:15) but if we've killed our desires, or at the very least hidden them, no one will ever ask us this. 

So I ask myself, have I killed my desires? Well, no. I'm a romantic in hiding. I have dreams I hesitate to tell anyone--even Brian. I feel saying them out loud will be embarrassing if it doesn't work out. And painful. Speaking my desires might make the longing ache more and who needs that? It would just be easier to keep these on the down low. But then again, desire's the only reason we get anywhere, ever, including God's embrace. 

So a few weeks ago, we were at Disneyland and I was surprised. I was going out of the goodness of my heart, for my childrens' sakes. I didn't expect to enjoy it much myself, but wanted them to experience it while they were young and the magic was still alive. And then, something strange happened.
Me and Merida :-)

I was star-struck. 


From wanting my own picture with Merida to singing along with the songs, I was swept away. From a girl whose favorite movie is Defiance and enjoys a good Grisham, I did NOT expect this. Once we were eating our lunch where we could watch parts of movies on a huge screen. I heard someone singing along and turned to see a middle-school boy. What is happening? When do boys that age sing voluntarily, let alone in public? Then I started wondering what this song means to him. Did it tell him there were other creative people in the world? Brave people, who would spend their days creating music and scenes and characters to embody their desires? 

Maybe Disney tells people there's a place for them - for their dreamer selves. While they're there, it's okay to unwrap their childlike notions and celebrate them. Maybe church, if we understood that Jesus doesn't have a problem with our desires, could do the same. 

There's another way to be. 

I've been thinking about that when I'm in a yoga pose that felt unnatural ten months ago. It feels good now that my body's learned it. There's another way to be. Unfamiliar doesn't mean it's not meant to be. And if I've been a skeptic my entire life, I don't have to stay there. I can become a dreamer. I can learn to live a life full of desire. I thought about this way back when I read Half-Broke Horses. The lady in the book approached life from the opposite angle I do, but as I watched her, I thought it would be helpful to adopt her attitude in certain situations. Like the ones where I look in my bag of tricks for an appropriate response and come up empty. Then it's time to try on someone else's "way to be." All wise people borrow from others and change. So I'm determined. I don't have to stay a scoffer. There's another way to be.

P.S. Just so you know, I get a small commission if you follow the link below and purchase the book. 

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