Aurora’s Folly, Part 2

Last week, in Part 1, I wrote about Princess Aurora from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, and how short-sighted she was. When she discovered she was a princess, all she could do was cry over a man she’d only met once. And we are so prone to be like her. When God asks us to follow Him fully, all we can think of are the worldly pleasures we’ll lose instead of the eternal riches we gain.

Yes, such behavior is foolish.

It’s also dangerous.

See, after Aurora cried her first storm, her aunts took her to the palace where she would be presented to her parents that evening. They sneak her in carefully, lest the witch Maleficent spy them. Aurora is still miserable. Her aunts give her a gold crown, symbolic of her royal rights and royal duties. She looks at herself in the mirror, puts her head down on the table, and bursts into tears again, poor thing.

So her aunts kindly give her a moment to herself before she actually has to meet her parents and the man she’s betrothed to.

And it’s then, when Aurora is weak, sad, and not herself, that Maleficent comes. She comes invisibly with a bizarre, mesmerizing ball of green fire. Aurora sits up, entranced. Then she stands and follows the dancing green ball through hidden passages in the castle up to a tower where the ball becomes the fateful spinning wheel whose spindle is to prick Aurora’s finger.

By now, her fairy aunts are looking for her, calling to her. But Maleficent’s voice bidding her to touch the spindle is more powerful, aided by the enchantment. Aurora touches it and is instantly cast into a magical, ageless sleep.

You see, Satan is a huge proponent of hitting a fellow when he’s down.

Bad guys in stories sometimes have a sliver of conscience left. Satan doesn’t.

In fact, the devil’s absolute favorite time to strike is when his victim is already weak.

Aurora was weakened because of her grief. But it was self-imposed grief. Sorrow because she couldn’t have what she wanted exactly when she wanted it.

Following God requires us to give up the things of this world. And when we pout about it, or downright refuse to do it, we put a wedge between ourselves and the God who loves us so much.

What starts as slight discontentment can fester into self-pity, depression, frustration, even resentment or rebellion towards God. All of those things can quickly distance us from our Lord.

When we are not walking close to Jesus, we are dangerously weak.

And Satan is only too happy to attack when we have drifted away from our Source of power.

It’s easy, and tempting, to think that a little complaining or a little rebellion won’t hurt anything. After all, it’s such a little bit.

But little things grow. Ever watched a bruise on a peach consume the whole fruit with rot? Ick.

But with Jesus, there is always hope.

Even if the devil has come in our weakness and cast us into a horrid pit from which we have no energy to rise, Jesus can pull us out. We need only to call to Him in repentance, and He will come and rescue us. He won’t leave us even if we have to endure certain inevitable consequences.

Still, don’t you think prevention is more desirable?

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Here are the clips of Aurora’s arrival home and Aurora’s enchantment, in case you wish to see them. It’s a mercy I never saw the latter as a young child–would have creeped me out to no end.

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Aurora’s Folly, Part 1

I’ve mentioned before that I love the Disney animation of Sleeping Beauty. Today I’m going to pick on Princess Aurora.

In case you’re not familiar with the tale, Princess Aurora was cursed at birth by the witch Maleficent. Before her sixteenth birthday ended, Aurora would prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel and die. The good fairies changed the curse so that Aurora would only fall into a deep sleep until she was awakened by true love’s kiss.

So, being extra cautious, the good fairies take on their human forms and hide Aurora in a peasant’s cottage where no one knows who they really are. Then on her sixteenth birthday, the fairies send Aurora into the woods while they prepare a celebration.

And there Aurora meets a handsome young man and falls in love. (Which is actually a funny scene, but I digress.) Aurora finally has to hurry home, but she tells the young man to come to her cottage that night, meet her aunts and all that.

Aurora arrives home and her aunts kinda pop the news on her that she’s a princess betrothed to Prince Phillip.

Now if someone told me all of a sudden that I was a princess in hiding, I think I’d be shocked first and then wildly curious about the details. I think I might be excited about meeting parents I’d always thought were dead. I think I’d be apprehensive, but very intrigued to see what life for royalty is like.

But Aurora seems to miss all that. She bursts into tears because she’s told she can’t meet her handsome young man again. (Here’s the clip of the announcement if you care to watch it.)

Because she’s only sixteen and she’s lived in extreme seclusion, I give Aurora a break when I’m watching the movie. Today, I’m cutting her no slack: if ever a girl acted like a besotted, infatuated goose, it was Princess Aurora.

I mean, she was a princess!

Her father ruled the country. She could have anything money could buy. She had a mother and father after always believing herself an orphan.

And all she could think about was never seeing this man again, a man she’d met only once. (And, yes, I believe true love is one of the strongest things on earth. I even believe in love beginning at first sight. But I don’t believe you can know it’s true love after only a few hours. Maybe I’m wrong.)

Aurora had just been handed the splendor of royalty, yet she’s upstairs weeping on her bed because she cannot have a man she met only that day. Short-sighted lassie.

But, after condemning the poor girl thus, let me add that we can be just like her.

A Christian is a child of the King of Kings. The King who holds the stars. The One who created us. The One who shed His own blood to free us from sin, its power, and its punishment.

And yet we are reluctant to live sold-out to this King, our Father.

If I follow His laws to the letter…

…I won’t be able to watch all the entertainment of this world because it glorifies wickedness–wickedness which put Jesus on the cross.

…I won’t be able to do all the things my worldly friends do at parties because they pollute my body, which is the Lord’s temple (see 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

…I won’t be able to dress in all the faddish clothing because it places superficial value on the body and devalues the soul, thereby causing me and others to stumble.

…I must forgive everyone who wrongs me, no matter what they’ve done.

…I won’t be able to spend all my time on myself because the Lord will ask me to use it for His eternal kingdom, or simply to serve others.

…I will have to speak what people don’t want to hear because I must spread Jesus’ gospel and warn them of sin’s punishment.

…I’ll have to give up this or that because it isn’t edifying or it squanders time or it flat-out honors wickedness.

…I won’t be able to stay up late because I’ll get up too late to meet with Jesus the next morning. (Confession: staying up late can actually become an idol in my life. I spend the latest hours with novels or something for my own pleasure, then I can’t rise early enough the next day to read my Bible. I say I’ll do it later in the day, but I don’t always do it, and if I do, it tends to be rushed or even half-hearted.)

…I will have to reshape my entire way of thinking to align my life with the King’s laws.

We complain about all we have to give up.

But we somehow forget about all we gain.

We gain forgiveness of sin and a home in heaven.

We gain incredible power in our daily lives to overcome all the snares, temptations, and attacks of the enemy.

We gain incomprehensible peace in the midst of turmoil.

We gain joy we can’t explain.

We gain love for others that cannot be matched.

We gain a Father who cares for us and takes our worries upon Himself.

We gain a purpose we can never outlive.

We gain a Provider, Defender, Friend, and Savior.

And, yes, we gain pure pleasures that He gives us simply because He loves us.

How can we complain about what we must sacrifice when there is so much more to gain?

Are we as short-sighted as Aurora weeping over her royal birth?

All those things we’re giving up are only temporary anyway. The things we gain are eternal.

-Miss Darcy

P.S. Yes, I realize that the law of irony dictates that, after berating poor Aurora so, I’m destined to fall like a ton of bricks off the Eiffel Tower for a man someday. May God grant me grace. 🙂

Writing Is a Gift

A lot of writers feel insecure calling themselves writers. Can’t say I haven’t been there. After all, it’s hard to make a living as a writer–always has been. You can’t say, “I’m a writer,” and command the same respect as saying, “I’m a nurse,” because people have a lot of preconceived notions about writers. (Some of which are quite accurate, some of which are true for certain writers, and some of which aren’t true at all.)

But, when it comes down to it, all of that is beside the point. I’m a writer because I write.

And writing is a gift.

I don’t mean that the way we say, “He’s a gifted painter,” or “She’s a talented musician.” I mean, writing is a gift from God, wrapped in the plain brown paper of education and tied with a gorgeous colorful bow of creativity.

This is a gift partly for my enjoyment. Stringing words together in sentences, putting thoughts into coherent text, painting pictures with black marks on white paper, gives me a great deal of joy. (Why do you think I’m so apt to get long-winded, hmm?)

And if I never wrote for anyone except me and God to see, it would still be a precious, delightful gift that never grows dull.

But I do get to write for others to see. I get to try to amuse people, challenge people, encourage people, and bless people. That is a lovely gift. (Granted, I don’t always succeed, and that’s one difficulty of being a writer–we are never perfect, much as we’d like to be. And because we put our imperfections into the semi-permanence of written words, they can sometimes haunt us more strongly.)

Yet when I succeed in writing something people are glad to read, I’m delighted all over again with this gift.

Best of all, I have the opportunity to glorify God with my words. To unveil Him to this world. To capture a tiny facet of His glory. To point others, and myself, to the God who created language in the first place.

Hard to describe how I feel when I think about that. Kind of overwhelmed and kind of disbelieving.

Writing isn’t always a rose-garden gift.

Some days what I write wrings me out and I feel physically tired. Some days the words refuse to come–they feel clunky, they won’t fit, and I erase almost as much as I write.

But the Lord never said our gifts wouldn’t mean work. Contrary to popular belief, work is a good thing.

Then some days this gift feels like a burden.

“I’m not reaching my word-count goals.”

“I can’t say this the way I want to.”

“I can’t find the passion to write this.”

“I can’t get into this character’s head.”

But for me, and I can’t speak for any other writer, I’ve discovered writing becomes a burden when I’m focusing more on the gift than the Giver.

“God, I want to write for you. Why can’t I find the words? Why can’t I write better? How am I going to write all the stories You’ve given me?”

But it’s not about the words. It’s not about perfection. It’s not about what I can do.

It’s really about Him. He gave me a gift, just as surely as if I found it under the Christmas tree one year.

This gift is to push me to Him. To give me joy as I use it under His direction. To challenge me. To serve others. To glorify Him.

God gives us many gifts.

Family. Friends. Pets. Jobs. Possessions. Food. Land. Beauty. Feelings. Knowledge. Music. Skills.

But these are all to point us to Him, to inspire gratitude toward Him, to bring us joy in Him.

The gifts must never be more important than the Giver.

It doesn’t help me to pressure myself, saying, “You must write such and such for God. You must write more words for God’s glory.” But when my relationship with Jesus is in the right place, when there is nothing coming between Him and me, then I can write freely. And even if it’s hard work, it’s satisfying and good.

You can’t brag about a gift. (Well, you can, but it’s silly because you didn’t acquire it through any merit of your own.) But you can make use of a gift. You can revel in it. And you can talk about the goodness of the Giver whenever you get the chance.

-Miss Darcy

When I Grow Up

I’m twenty-two. An adult. Sometimes I don’t feel like it.

When I was little, I’d say, “When I grow up…” and I meant when I reached about the age I am now.

There’s a certain dry humor in that.

I’ve always wanted to be grown up. Mature. Respected.

But I’ve come to realize that however old I get (and I hope to get quite old before I leave this world), I don’t want to forget what it’s like to be a child.

  • How to throw myself into a physical game, playing hard until I’m hot, sweaty, exhausted, and perfectly happy.
  • How to transform brooms into horses and baby strollers into automobiles.
  • How hard and tedious it is to learn to read.
  • The drudgery of practicing an instrument before you’ve begun to master it.
  • The childish, but very real joy of saying or doing something particularly “grown up.”
  • How it feels to want to say something but have no grown-ups interested.
  • How it feels to not understand why your parents are arguing: you just hate the tension. Or worse, the subtler, but even more unnerving tension of an old grudge in the extended family.
  • How it feels to meet one of your mom’s old friends, and hear them say to her, “Oh, my goodness. Are these your kids? I haven’t met the youngest, but I remember this one when she was in diapers.”
  • The painful self-consciousness when you overhear your parents tell an embarrassing story about you before you’re old enough to laugh at it.
  • How it feels to compete with siblings for adults’ attention.
  • The joy of making a perfectly useless gift of questionable artistry for your parents or friends.
  • The scathing injustice of getting an equal punishment as your sister when you know she was more guilty than you. 😉
  • The importance of adults’ approval.
  • The way it felt like forever until you’d get older.
  • The small delights of ice cream, swinging at the park, hide-and-seek, and new school books.
  • The scheming to get more time to play with friends.
  • The begging of “the dads” or “the moms” to play with us kids instead of just talking.
  • The indignation when an adult won’t listen to your side of the story.
  • The wonderful feeling of your first successful bike ride without training wheels.
  • The frustration when your parents are lecturing and you know they’re right.
  • The uncertainty when you get older and you’re hovering somewhere between the worlds of children and adults.
  • The stupid rivalries between kids and how they somehow matter then.
  • How it feels to admire a teen or twenty-something and have them treat you as a cute kid, a twerp, or a nuisance.
  • How it feels to have a “big kid” or teen pay genuine attention to you.

I had a good childhood. And I don’t want to forget the good things. Or the bad things.

I want to keep part of my heart in childhood as long as I live.

(Side note to any teens or twenty-somethings reading this: Let me encourage you to engage kids. Listen to them. Treat them like equals sometimes [unless, of course, they’re acting up and you need to straighten them out]. Wear yourself out playing with them. Give piggy-back rides. Let them make an idiot of you once in a while. Be the cool teen, the cool young adult you would have wanted to play with when you were small. It’s fun.)

Now, as a Christian, I do not want to always be a child.

A Christian who never grows more like Christ. Never matures in knowledge. Never learns to display Christ in everything I do.

No, I want to be a Christian who matures.

I’ll never be a truly grown up Christian until I die. But I always want to be a Christian who is growing up.

Interestingly, the path to mature Christianity is counter-intuitive.

Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them,

and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

-Matthew 18:2-4 (NKJV) emphasis mine

Notice He says little child. I’ve known older children to develop a bit of pride. Don’t ask where I discovered that. 😉

But we must come to God as children.

With all a child’s awe at God’s power and grace. With all a child’s undiluted love for a good parent. With all a child’s unquestioning trust in a trustworthy caretaker. With all a child’s sorrow when struck with a true understanding of wrongdoing.

With all a child’s joy in the life given to them.

It doesn’t pay to be a grown-up too soon. Maybe when it comes to serving Jesus, it doesn’t pay to be a grown-up at all.

-Miss Darcy

Truth Frees

I have long loved the verse in John where Jesus says,

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

-John 8:32 (NKJV)

I always thought it referred to discovering Truth in the Bible, which frees us. And I still believe it refers to that.

But I also think it applies in a more general way. This hit me about three years ago.

Truth has the power to free us, whether it is the Truth in the Bible or a truth in our own lives.

Let me explain. There are people in my life whom I love deeply. But the relationships always felt one-way. As if I had to do all the work; I had to make all the compromises; I had to tread lightly for their feelings. Yet I still thought they cared about me, so I tried to put in the effort, you know?

Three years ago, one of these people blew up in front of me. I had long known he had a temper, but never seen it on display. He berated principles I hold dear, insulted people I love more than anyone, and basically mocked my whole lifestyle.

Not exactly endearing behavior. Rather shocking, in fact.

But…

I got to see the truth.

It hurt, but I got to see how he really felt. And it set me utterly free from his expectations. Now the relationship is completely on my terms because he showed himself unwilling to extend any amount of unselfish love.

There’s freedom in that. In living without concern for his opinion.

It wasn’t pleasant to see the already-fragile relationship fracture. But it set me free. More in my mind, perhaps, than anywhere else.

And it is good to live in freedom.

Sometimes when Jesus reveals to us the truth about ourselves and others, it’s ugly. When He reveals truth about Himself, it is beautiful. But either way, truth frees.

And it’s worth any pain it may bring.

-Miss Darcy

The Measurement of Success

The world has its measurement of success, and pretty much screams it at us constantly.

Money. Wealth. Things.

Fame. Popularity. Status.

Pleasure. Any kind. All the time.

But when you don’t plan to spend most of your life in one place, it’s important not to stockpile your treasure there.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;

but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

-Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV)

Writers usually measure success in sales. In number of positive reviews. In number of loyal readers. Or number of new readers who rave about your book.

And, to be honest, I would appreciate all those things when I finally publish. But I never want to forget how I measured success when I first started writing: success is giving someone a blessing, however small.

Souls touched for even a little good will be treasure in heaven, yes?

But the world’s measurement of success can be distracting from what’s important.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

-Matthew 6:24

I can’t afford to get distracted by pursuing this world’s success. Yes, I’ll do the best publishing job I can. Yes, I’ll market my books. And, most certainly, I want people to enjoy and be encouraged by what I write. I want it very much. But I must remember that people’s approval is not the main thing to aim for.

I want to write for my King’s approval.

Of course, I want His approval in my whole life, not just writing. But writing has become a big part of my life.

You’ve probably heard the verse about “well done, good and faithful servant.”

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.

-Matthew 25:21 NKJV (emphasis mine)

That’s what I want. To enter into the joy of my Lord.

-Miss Darcy

Awesome Creatures, Awesome God

I’m not really a “horse person,” if you know what I mean, but I love to see a fast horse run. Or a graceful horse dance in dressage. Even in our day, when humans no longer rely on the horse as in past centuries, we’re still fascinated with them.

To watch a horse race all-out inspires awe.

Raw power, speed, and tenacity, with fluid rhythm and natural grace. Maybe it’s just me, but I can’t help standing in wonder.

I think the reason horses hold such fascination for humans is simple. They really are magnificent. Even God thinks so. Here is what the Creator says of this member of His creation:

Have  you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder?

Can you frighten him like a locust? His majestic snorting strikes terror.

He paws in the valley, and rejoices in his strength; he gallops into the clash of arms.

He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; nor does he turn back from the sword.

The quiver rattles against him, the glittering spear and javelin.

He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded.

At the blast of the trumpet he says, ‘Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar, the thunder of captains and shouting.

-Job 39:19-25 (NKJV)

I read this and think, So that’s why I love to see a horse tear down the racetrack or perform an exquisite routine. Because the Lord made this animal amazing.

I love the last four chapters of the book of Job, when the Lord finally speaks and sets everyone straight as to Who has the authority. And why.

There’s no question about God’s authority when you consider His creation.

We can’t make a teensy little thing from absolute nothingness. But God made the stars; the snow; the horse; and (my favorite) Leviathan.

We meet Leviathan in chapter 41, and he’s such a cool creature I can’t help talking about him. He’s a water-monster, who is sometimes assumed to be a crocodile.

Friends, this ain’t no crocodile.

Leviathan laughs at javelins. Iron and bronze? He thinks they’re straw and rotten wood. Dare to harpoon him? You’ll never try such a battle again. He has a mouth full of terrible teeth. His heart is as hard as stone.

“His undersides are like sharp potsherds; he spreads pointed marks in the mire.” This beast has pointed scales all over him, even his undersides. You will recall that crocodiles have smooth bellies.

Ever wondered where the legends of fire-breathing dragons came from? “His sneezes flash forth light… Smoke goes out of his nostrils… His breath kindles coals, and a flame goes out of his mouth.”

The Lord says, “I will not keep silent about his limbs, his mighty power, or his graceful proportions.” The Lord is almost boasting of His Creation–and who has a better right to do so?

Of Leviathan, this awesome creature, God says,

No one is so fierce that he would dare stir him up. Who then is able to stand against Me?

Who has preceded Me, that I should pay him? Everything under heaven is mine.

-Job 41:10-11 (NKJV)

Friends, it is right that we should marvel at the awesome wonders God created in this world. And then bend our hearts to worship, not the creatures, but their infinitely more mighty Creator.

-Miss Darcy

P. S. By the way, I really hope God has Leviathans in heaven. I want to meet one of these creatures! (But not on earth, of course, even if Leviathan hadn’t gone extinct.)