trials

Cinderella Story

Most of my friends believe that my favorite movie is Star Wars…all of them. Well, they are wrong. It is Cinderella, the version released by Disney in 1950. This is the only movie which I’ve watched hundreds of times and still cry at the same scenes. Yes, I just admitted this on the Internet. Disney’s Cinderella is deceptively simple. Looking at it as a kid, it was a simple fairy tale with the hero triumphant. As a teenage girl, I saw the story of the girl getting the guy. However, as an adult it became a different story. Below is what I consider the most emotional scene of the movie. It is not because we think Cinderella has lost the chance to go to the ball, meet the prince and change her circumstances.
All of this may have been what the writers wanted, yet there is more here.
Cinderella in the Garden

Leaning over a cement bench, she sobs the following through bitter and painful tears:
“It’s just no use…I can’t believe, not anymore…there’s nothing left to believe in…”

I imagine this is not the first time she has come to this garden in tears or pain. If you pay attention to the beginning of the movie, this is the same garden she and her father are shown in when he was alive. She may come here even when her stepmother and step sisters are asleep to feel a connection to her deceased father. What is clear is that this moment was her breaking point. Although she may not have been perfect, Cinderella is shown to be rational and reasonable up to this point. She has maintained her composure and dignity even in the face of humiliation and numerous daily set backs. Yet, it is the selfish, spiteful, and bitter tearing of her dress that finally breaks her down.
Does not life feel this way at times?
Of course many of us realize that tearing her dress is representative of all her hopes, dreams, goals, and beliefs being shattered and broken. How many of us have come to a breaking point when our world seems to come crashing around us? You, the person who has been optimistic and encouraging others, smiling through your own pain could not bear another set back. Yet, that set back came. The moment of crisis and the day of despair when what took years to build was stripped away in an instant were too much on your plate. In our darkest moments, how easy it is to say as Cinderella “There’s nothing left to believe in…”
I know it may be easier to quote James 1:2-3 than to believe it or to hear I Peter 1:5-9 than to take it to heart when in the middle of distressing circumstances. I know because darkness surrounds us all like a fog and the fog can be as thick as velvet. And the season can last longer than we would like leading us to pleading with the Father for the veil to lift from our life. Yet it is imperative and most urgent that you and I see beyond our present. Even as the Fairy Godmother said: “If you had lost all your faith, I could not be here. And here I am.” Your faith in its most honorable form is what God is after. He uses what we have, our heart, and our circumstances to get us where He needs us. The trying of your faith and the set backs, heart ache, heart-break, and pain on this side of life are the very things that can polish and perfect you, forcing you to stand out to our Prince of Peace.

Advertisements

Keep fighting, even when you run out of gas.

He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes. I cry unto thee, and thou dost not answer me: I stand up and thou regardest me not. –Job 30:19-20

Job’s story is one that many of us take for granted until we have trouble of our own. However, the magnitude of crisis Job faces in his life is the blindsided, uncertain and terrifying trauma of back-to-back events that are out of his hands. All of Job’s wealth had been destroyed in an instant, and he has more questions than answers. As we read through Job, we usually look at how his wife and friends respond. Often, we draw on the points of Job’s character and refusal to curse God, but do we notice how this trial has worn Job down at this point?
When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness. –Job 30:26
How do we deal with weariness, fear and uncertainty in the face of trials? A few of us have felt this way at some point in our lives. The bottom just seems to fall out from under us and it never seems to close again. We then notice that we’ve been praying the same prayer for not just a few months, but a few years. We feel as if our tears will stop only because there will be no more tears left to cry. It is in times like these that you must realize you cannot fight the battle alone.

A few weeks ago, I ran out of gas. This was not a simple trip to the store around my hometown in Alabama; you see, I ran out of gas in the middle of Washington, DC. My family and I were traveling and were now lost as we searched for our hotel. Once I realized I was out of gas, I felt helpless. We sat there wondering what to do and who to call on in this strange land. As we sat there, we each became agitated and impatient.

Questions began to turn to accusations:
Why didn’t you look at the gas gauge? Why did you take this route? Why didn’t you listen to where I wanted to go? Why are we here anyway? This wouldn’t have happened if I drove. We should have taken that other road. This is your fault!

Accusations began to turn to guilt:
It is my fault. I should have gotten the gas. If only I would have checked before we left. If only we would have taken that other road. If only I would have listened to your directions. If only I had left earlier. If only we didn’t get stuck in traffic.

Then guilt became despair:
We’re stuck out here and we don’t even know where we are. How are we going to even make it back to the hotel? We might as well sleep on the side of the road and just wait…

Sound familiar?

So often we go through these same questions when we are in the midst of trials that we think will never end. We begin to wonder why, how long, and where is God. After the questions are not answered, we either accuse or guilt ourselves into despair.

But hold on!

My insurance company has something called “Roadside Assistance.” This is a service that I pay into each month. No matter where I am, no matter what the circumstances, I can always call on “Roadside Assistance.” The only drawback about this service? I have to wait for them to come with help. They are not on every corner, but I know once I call, they are coming at some point.

And they did!

Once “Roadside Assistance” arrived with a gallon of gas, we drove out of this strange neighborhood to the main road in an attempt to correct our wrong turn. Here’s the punch line: our “wrong turn” lead us directly to our hotel. We had not only taken the right turn, but we were on the right road and safely in our warm beds within fifteen minutes of getting help.

God presents Job with a series of questions that cause him to take a somewhat pause, realizing his inability to comprehend the mind of God. This is what we must see in our trials, no matter how long and difficult. This is not to diminish what we go through, but to put it all in the proper lens. The road is tough. We wonder why some of the things and events that have happened were allowed and we start to wonder if we are on the right path. We may run out of gas as we travel and we may even want to pull over, park and either settle or give up. However, if you have made it this far serving the Lord, remember that you have assistance along this road and you can call on Him at any time. Have you called and He still has not arrived? Keep praying and keep holding on. It may not seem like it, but know that God is listening to your prayers. He sees your tears and knows what you need to make it through these times. Continue to serve, continue to work, and continue to minister to others. Are you wandering around in a strange neighborhood? Have patience, for even if you are in what seems a mistake, you are closer to your destination than you think.

“Fight”

I don’t write or speak openly about my faith with many people. It is mostly because I am an introvert and the backlash against anyone that speaks openly about any faith keeps me mum. My parents have always said faith is not a topic of dinner conversation, but that is another post all together.

As a result, many of the people I am closest to know that I am slightly geeky but don’t know that I am also very serious in the faith that I follow. However, not in the fanciful, extreme sense that is plastered where everyone can see. The posts on Facebook and Twitter that tell how deeply religious we are but the next post is a drunken night on the town or the extreme that use superficial words to condemn those that believe differently. No, this is religious perversion, not faith.

All of the above was not to condemn anyone, either. It was a revelation during a truly geek moment I had this afternoon that connected to the deep core of my faith. I was listening to the music from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as I was getting coffee and setting up to finish work. Most of the music was played during battle scenes and I never really listened to the words until recently. The song “Fight” came on and I listened to the words for the first time in almost 20 years. If you have never heard this song (if you watched MMPR, you have) the link is above.

As I listened to the words, I thought about how I have felt when I’ve faced a spiritual battle. The past two years have been a series of life altering changes that have brought me to my knees, in the most literal sense. Some of it has been due to my own ignorance; others have been so far out of my hands it has felt like the world around me was shaken to the ground.

At the beginning of this year, I undertook a project that pulled me out of my comfort zone. The thing is, this is a project that I had tried before and failed. However, before trying this time I consulted, prayed and waited. Then I received an answer to move. So I did. I moved completely on knowing and believing that the path was cleared for me.

It seems that when we do this, much like the physics of spirituality, there is always equal and opposing force. The closer I moved on this endeavor, the more opposition I began to feel. I began to feel as if this was a mistake and that I should turn back and let go of the dream. Tears and pain came, I prayed in earnest and two doors opened that I never imagined possible. So I kept going, but then fear crept in. I began to hear from friends and family “You sure you can do that?” to “You still want to go that route? I thought you had given up on that.” I started to believe them. Maybe I should give up. Why am I fighting for this so hard? Who is really on my side?

But wait a minute…

As I was listening to the words, it struck me. The Father is on my side. So often we feel like the beginning of the song:

So you fell into the danger…and you’re all alone tonight

Well you’re surrounded by the hurting type, 

And you just don’t care for the sight

However, if we just step back we would realize that we don’t have to do it all alone. We really must be strong and the power is on our side. Yes, the enemy will try to give us fear, but we can’t just run and hide. If we stand up and fight, we are not alone. Above all else, don’t give up or give in to fear. I have said that patience is not sitting around doing nothing but it is actively seeking the answer and taking the steps to move at the right time. This is faith and faith is fighting through the battles when you feel like you will lose.