“Have Courage and Be Kind”

I’m not sure if anyone’s noticed, but Cinderella received a crazy amount of media during its opening week. I know I’m REALLY late to the game, but if you haven’t seen it, stop reading, go watch it then come back. Done? Okay.

Guys, this movie is excellent. Here’s the thing about Cinderella: it has all the usual components of a typical happy go lucky Disney sing along but touches a much deeper level than Cars or Toy Story. The first time I saw it, I was alone and enjoyed watching all the little girls in their princess dresses dancing in to find their seats. More than that though, I wondered if this movie could really live up to the expectations that Disney and Facebook had planted in my mind.images 2

I was ready with my producer mind to be disappointed with cheesy effects and sappy writing. I was happily proven wrong.

In our pathetic post-modern society, we’ve stopped believing that kindness can win, that love really does conquer all. We walk into the fairy tale expecting the happily ever after to come at a price, that somehow fighting and killing are required to come out victorious. Please understand, I absolutely believe that violence is often necessary. Our military and police forces are trained for this reason, but as a people, we have given up on kindness and forgiveness as commodities and traded them for cynicism and fear.

At the risk of sounding like a complete milquetoast, I’m going out on a limb and suggesting that humanity could do with a little less scheming and a little more honesty. America doesn’t need more female CEOs or women who scratched their way to the top; it needs women who can inspire others to greatness in the boardroom and yes, even the kitchen.

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A recent post from Rebecca uncovers the importance of stories like Cinderella “Somewhere along the way, our worlds grew dim, we got discouraged, and we forgot how much the fairy tale meant. Finding it again is as audacious as holiness, and even though we are tired, we aren’t too ruined for it yet.”

Movies like Cinderella bring us back to our original place of childlike wonder and the belief that good things can still happen in a broken world. We need to be reminded again and again that while there is evil in the world, we have been given the courage to overcome it.

This is why Cate Blanchett’s character is so perfectly essential to the success of this film. She is the perfect foil, what Ella could have become had she chosen to react differently to the horrific circumstances in her life. Instead, Ella is a light that exposes the darkness.

images That’s the big, dirty secret: a genuine spirit breeds fear in the fearful. A few years back, I experienced this myself. I watched a coworker crawl deeper and deeper into a fear that came only by my presence. That fear quickly grew into violence as the last shreds of his true nature and incompetence began to fall away. Like Cinderella, this part of my story didn’t end happily, but in the end I came out singing because I knew I had done the right thing.

Towards the end of the movie, Ella faces evil as she watches her stepmother literally smash her last hope at happiness. The heartbreak in Ella’s face is painful to watch, yet minutes later, she looks into her stepmother’s eyes and says genuinely “I forgive you.”

Guys, that is the grace that wins the world right there. To look into the face of evil and have the courage to acknowledge, forgive, and move forward. Forgiveness, like laughter, is contagious.

The story and the way it’s told bring us back to who we were meant to be as women: kind, courageous, strong without guile or bitterness. We’ve seen what happens when we allow ourselves to be consumed by grief, weariness and isolation. We become bitter, we shrink from our identities and hide behind performance. It’s when we move past the fear of being hurt again and dare to be kind in difficult moments that we embrace who we are meant to be and reflect God’s image back to the people we care about.

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PS: I just want to point out that Ella RIDES HORSES!!!!! That makes her my new spirit animal (along with Mindy Kaling and Kimmy Schmidt)

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