One of my favorite childhood memories involves my sister, a coffee table, and various versions of performer outfits ranging from ski hats and swim masks to mom’s and dad’s bathrobes, which trailed behind us like the perfect princess train. Our coffee table transformed into the perfect stage as we belted out our favorite songs. Here we could be wild and free, and well…epic. Eventually we outgrew the coffee table and moved the venue to car trips or the occasional sleep over when we came home from college for the holidays. Now we take great pleasure in teaching my nephew to sing our classic tunes – one favorite is Part Of Your World from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
In the first Princess post, I pondered what I could learn from studying these characters in a biblical context. In my job as a literacy coach one strategy I teach readers to think deeper about a text is to lift a line and say more about it. As I tried this on with my little mermaid’s bittersweet ballad, I realized her lyrics could teach me a lot about common pitfalls I find myself tripping over in my journey toward being a woman after God’s heart.
“I want more.” I do. I struggle with this. Whether it is wanting more vacations, more time with certain friends, more shoes, more sleep, it has been a life struggle to really see what I do have and not just what I don’t. God usually knocks me back into place through a series of people, events or encounters, sometimes humbling ones, that remind me of all that He’s provided.
For example, this past week several people I know lost their fathers. Mine is still here, and I am reminded to appreciate every movie, every dinner out, and every memory we make. I don’t know what the future holds, but God has a way of re-framing our circumstances to help us see what a good God He is.
This spring several ladies I know will get married. You probably know several too. (Spring has that effect on people!) God has reminded me recently how much time I have as a single to encourage others in their walks with Him. This happens over dinners, coffee, prayers, parties, retreats, boat trips. What a privilege! These are genuinely fulfilling and fun. I don’t know if I will always have a lifestyle that allows for them, and now I want to soak it all up while I do. Ask yourself: What does my singleness or current set of circumstances allow for ? How I might consider taking more advantage of it?
“The seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake.” Okay, this is really Sebastian, Ariel’s lobster nanny, urging her to look for the wonders in her own world. She can’t because she’s too busy wanting what some other girl has.
I didn’t always see my circumstances as I do now. I caught glimpses of certain people’s lives and I filled in the blanks. I had a name for them. The shiny people. The shiny person at work was the charming natural team leader who could win the crowd with their polished presentations and witty personality. The shiny person at church was the young mom who dropped her kids off in the nursery. Her perfect outfit looked like something out of a magazine, her kids carbon copies right down to the dapper combed hair and pretty pink bows. I imagined a life filled with pool parties, and date nights, and lots and lots of fairy tale moments.
About two years ago, God brought one of these shiny people into my life and we became the closest of friends. She’s a wife and mom with a strong faith, and lets me see behind the curtain. She shares the good, the bad, and the ugly. The other day we were talking about fairy tale moments. She admitted to having fairy tale moments with her husband, with her kids, and even with sleep! But not all the time.
My friend proceeded to share a conversation she was having with a young couple who is contemplating divorce. They are in their 20s. She shared specifics hard times in marriage and about her own struggles to love her husband through every day and all the time, to which the 20 something replied, “No one has ever talked this honestly to me about their marriage before.” God has given me a gift in this friend who faithfully uses her season to show both the beautiful and beastly sides of marriage to encourage others in their season. What a privilege!
“I want to be where the people are.” If you’re like Ariel and me, you want to be further along the road than you already are. It took some lessons in humility for me to get God’s point that the journey is the character building part. A friend reminded me earlier this week that we live in a society that celebrates arrivals. We reward accomplishments – earning the diploma or a higher salary, getting engaged , finishing anything. But there is also a great deal to be learned, gained, and accomplished in the process.
“The girl who has everything.” God is showing me there is more beyond a surrender to His will. There’s the fruit of joy. And I thought surrender took some doing! Joy is way more fun. I smile more. People notice. I get compliments and people open up their lives and I walk alongside them, feel their pain, am prompted to pray for them, share in their best moments, and get to be part of God’s plans. The hardest work I do in my own heart with God is always the most rewarding, because in due time it yields my best fruit.
What are you struggling to accept in your life? What is hard to admit in your prayers? Embrace it. Struggle with God can be fruitful. The other side of the struggle is worth fighting for. And don’t forget whose side God is on. He is not fighting with you, He’s fighting for you.
Renee is a single Christian woman who serves as mentor staff in the college ministry at her local church. She works as a literacy coach for a school district in San Ramon, California. Her hobbies include: boating, wake boarding, Zumba, riding roller coasters, and watching classic movies.