Happily Ever After…

And they lived “Happily Ever After.”  The stuff of fairy tales, the quintessence of dreams. How many stories did we hear as kids that had that same sweet ending? All those nights after listening to a ‘HEA’ story we’d slip off into quiet slumber knowing the world was a safe, happy place. How many Disney classics do you remember that didn’t have a sugar coated, all is well, happy ending? Exactly! Disney magic at its best!

Yeah, old Walt and his crew knew their way around a story, especially when you consider that several Disney greats were based on stories that originally had very unhappy and often tragic endings. For example, Pinocchio’s dream come true ending of becoming a real boy in the Disney version never happened in the original story. In the original Pinocchio is tossed into the sea and devoured by a school of fish!  In Jungle Book, Disney’s happily ever after ending is in sharp contrast to the everybody dies ending of the original story, and in Little Mermaid, instead of marrying her prince, the prince marries someone else and Ariel dissolves to death, but not before having her tail split by the evil sea witch causing her unbearable pain and a loss of a lot of blood. There are others, but you get the picture. A little rewrite magic goes a long way. The stories may sometimes contain a dose of  doom, gloom, and violence, but in the end everyone lives happily ever after. And we bought it! We were so naive… so innocent…

Eventually, like it or not, we grow up and begin to realize that life isn’t a fairy tale and not all things end happily. Those gloriously happy endings go the way of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. Remember how painful it was to learn the truth. There was always an older sibling, cousin or kid up the street or in school who knew and just had to burst our bubble. No Santa? No Tooth Fairy! Outrageous! What? Mom and dad buy our gifts and place them under the tree for Christmas morning! How dare they! How could they deceive us? How could they lie to us? But we get over it, And when we have children of our own we perpetuate the myth all over again.

If only all life events had fairy tale endings, if only everything ended happily, wouldn’t that be awesome? Lost your job? Can’t make the mortgage payment? That’s okay because in the end you’ll get to keep the house and you’ll have an even better job.be  Yeah right! If only… So, did all those “HEA” stories prepare us for the real world or did they merely color our childhood with a false sense of hope? I think they did what they were intended to do. They entertained and although they weren’t preparing us for the harsh realities of life, they did teach us how to dream and more importantly, how to hope.

We all know that the realities of life can sometimes be as sweet as any fairy tale and at other times be as mean and vicious as the evil queen in Snow White. But it’s that unpredictability and ambiguity that makes life worth living. It’s unpredictability brings with it things to look forward to as well as things to dread. Sometimes what we imagine will be the most horrible thing that could happen turns out to be  a good or even great thing. And sometimes when we expect a good outcome everything turns out badly.  The not knowing is perhaps one of God’s greatest gifts, for although it can sometimes be extremely painful, it can also be the source of wondrous joy! It’s unpredictability drives us and offers us the opportunity for optimism, risk-taking, hope and prayer.

So stop wasting time worrying about why bad things happen to good people or why God keep throwing us into precarious situations and just deal with the problm at hand. Keep a cool head, be optimistic and do what you can to help yourself. You can only do what you can do. This is not the Old Testament. You are not Job, God is not punishing you, testing you perhaps, but not punishing you.

In your lifetimes you will all be faced with challenges, both personal and professional. Perhaps you’ll lose your job or have some sort of crisis with a boss or workmate, maybe someone you love a friend or family member  will be gravely injured or become seriously ill. Whatever challenge you may face, no matter how severe, remember; God is only a prayer away. Your constant life companion and consoler is there when you need Him. He is the one constant in this unpredictable life of ours. He is our rock, our shelter from the storm, and more importantly, our happily ever after…

Just a Thought…

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