As with most things that are culturally-relevant, I’m a bit behind the game. As in, entire world-wide trends will come and go, and I’ll miss them. Or an earthquake will happen next door, and I won’t notice. This usually results in me hollering at my husband, “Why didn’t you tell me about this?!”
He’s all, “There is this thing called the news. You can watch it. Or, just be generally aware.”
No, no, I can’t. It’s his job to tell me All the Things and it’s my job to post funny kid pics on Facebook. Our roles are clearly defined.
Regardless, there’s no use pointing fingers now. We finally got ourselves sorted and Redbox-ed up Cinderella, a mere eight months after it’s release. We cozied in, cued up the magic, and…I fell in love.
My crushes on particular shows or movies aren’t unheard of; when I like something, I tend to really like it. Bonus points if it carries a powerful lesson that should be learned on this earth. And Cinderella did this in abundance.
If you’ve watched the movie, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go watch it. Even if you don’t have kids. Even if you’re not into cartoon princesses coming to life. The wisdom and smarts pour from the screen throughout the film, but the single most resonating truth shared was the advice Ella’s mother spoke from her death bed, “I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind.”
I think the easy part is being kind. As adults, we generally know how to do that. It doesn’t mean that we always do it, but from a young age, most of us learn basic concepts of the Golden Rule, treating others as you yourself want to be treated. Case in point: don’t scream, “Ew! Your lunch box is ruined!” when the darling girl next to you pukes during lunchtime. Not that this is a current example of appropriate behavior we are addressing in our home…
Nope, the far, far trickier element is the having courage bit. I’ve written a lot about living fearlessly. And how this somehow became a bit easier after my mother died; the worst already happened, you see. Scary things? Less scary. My rock and my centering force was already gone; losing anything else seemed inconsequential.
But there are days, friends, there are days. There are days when I am yanked back to the morning I first clung to our kitchen counter and forced myself to take breaths in and out. That morning I finally called my doctor and said the cautious, precious words, “I need help.” The morning I finally started taking Effexor and began my journey to a more peaceful relationship with this earth.
There are days I still call my husband at work and whisper, “I can’t breathe,” and he is all, “I am in a meeting with important people. I love you and care, but can you make it quick?” I love him; he’s a good guy. I would recommend him, but he’s already taken.
So I try, really try, to be courageous and to keep doing what I need to do–you know, raise kids and put food on the table and such. To put one foot in front of the other. I work to drown out the unmanageable and handle the manageable.
I hear the tenet of my faith, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage–I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33), and realize how much Ella’s mother’s words parallel this. There’s going to be bad things in this world, sometimes huge and awful. Sometimes less dramatic: the piled-up dishes or difficult kids that makes Mommy feel like her last straw has snapped.
The hard truth, the core truth, is that it all boils down to courage: can we keep going even when we’re scared or overwhelmed? Even when we don’t know what the end result will be or how we will get there? This is what bravery, what courage, IS, friends.
We may never be fully fearless, as we are human, but we can fear less. We can keep trying and walking forward.
If you’ve ever paused in your life and wondered, “Am I doing this right?”, I can reassure: if you are chancing errors to the hope that you are nailing it, you are on a good path, a very good path.
The thing is, this life is short. We too often screw it up. But we are given the chance, while we are here, to pour out the good and do it the best that we can. To pour out the kindness, the hope, the courage. To embrace the whole of who we can be while being decent to other people on this earth.
Ella’s mother had her secret exactly right. Be kind. Have courage. And friends, if you do this, you’ve nailed it more than you could ever know.