We had denied ourselves the pleasure of this particular big family vacation for years. 18 years to be exact. We determined early on that we would wait until our youngest child was 5 years old to embark on this journey…..and well. We just kept having kids! So the excitement my family felt as we boarded the Admiral Joe Fowler early that morning was palpable. There was a promise that at the end of our voyage we would embark upon a land full of magical excitement, fairy tales and promises fulfilled. I had no idea then that this land full of princes and princesses…..flying elephants….pirates….talking mice, ducks and dogs would give me more life lessons than just “when my kids are all having fun at the same time they get along so well!! “ It simply promised to be “the happiest place on earth.”
I like happy!
As we drew closer to our destination, we saw it! The castle! It took our breath away. For our entire lives, we had seen pictures of this castle but the sight of this place that had only filled our dreams for so many years was truly…well…magical! There’s really no other word to describe it. The look on the faces of my 5 children was utter happiness!
I like happy children!
Everywhere we looked that week, there were happy kids. ( Well except for that occasional grumpy kid with ice cream smeared all over his face , evidence of no nap abounding. Come on Mom!! That 3 year old you’re dragging around needs some down time!! Mickey will still be here when you get back from nap time!) Big kids and little kids were dressed like Mickey and Minnie……like Cinderella and Prince Charming. Some of these “kids” were paid to be in costume. They’re the ones your kids are convinced are the “real” Jasmine, Snow White and Belle. They shriek with delight at having just had their picture made with these Disney super stars!
There’s nothing better than a happy kid!
Then there are the non-paid characters roaming around….holding their adult’s hand as they skip along, tiara in place, princess dress flowing out behind them, ice cream smeared all over their smiling faces. They prance around the park all day long with heads held high so those tiaras don’t fall, singing their Princess songs at the top of their lungs. In their little minds, they are every bit as much a true princess as the Cinderella they just posed with…..just as beautiful, just as worthy. And JOY just exudes from them!
I really like a JOYFUL child!
I hear so often, “Oh I just want to be happy!” Or “I deserve a little happiness in my life”….blah blah blah! That ice cream smeared , grumpy child likely started her day in a very happy mood. Then she got hot. Her feet started hurting. Her belly hurt from too much ice cream and well, the happiness was shot. She was a total grump now and it showed! Happiness is so fleeting! Why in the world do we seek it out so much??
But the little princesses. Oh the sweet little Princesses! They still had ice cream everywhere. Their feet probably hurt from those little princess shoes they’d had on all day. They were very likely hot as well because, well, it’s Florida in June. How can you NOT be hot then!? But the difference here is that they believed with their whole beings that they were princesses and no matter how hot and sticky and tired they were, that would not change. They were princesses, by golly…..
….and the JOY just exuded!
I want joy like that!! And I think most of us really would prefer joy over happiness. But how, you ask, can we cross over from just being happy to feeling pure, extreme, radical joy? It just seems easier said than done some days, huh?
We’ve all been there. The scenarios are endless. We wake up in the morning and we get our hair just right and we have the perfect outfit on. It’s gonna be a grand day! Then one of a bajillion things happens. 1) It’s raining and our hair is now a wet mess 2) We spill coffee on our white blouse 3) The baby wipes his sweet little snotty nose all over your black pants 4) We get bumped in the car pool line and the other person swears it’s all OUR fault 5) The teacher calls about little Johnny’s behaviour again 6) The hubster calls with bad news 7) The cat gets sick all over the freshly cleaned carpet……and the list goes one. The day that started seemingly happy seems to go down hill from there. But where’s the joy??
I don’t have the perfect answer and many days I struggle to find joy as well. But when I think back on our time at Disney and all those little princesses….those who in spite of the ice cream smudges, tired feet, and sweaty hair had a smile on their faces… I have to wonder if they carry a big old fat clue as to where we can always find joy?
And here it is…..the clue….”But you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…….”..Galatians 3:26
Did you grab that little tidbit? We are all sons (or daughters) of God when we believe in Jesus. He is a King. If He’s a King and we’re His sons and daughters, then what does that make us? Princess Jasmine can only wish her dad the king was as amazing as our Dad , THE King!
So we our His. We belong to Him as His children. When we belong to Him, He gifts us…..with things like love and peace and kindness and JOY, just to name a few.
Joy! Our goal over happiness! So think about this. What if…just what if…we woke up each morning fully and completely BELIEVING that we are truly Princesses? That we are truly daughters of the One True amazing, fabulous King of Kings and Lord of Lords? Now beware!! We don’t want to get uppity about this or anything. After all, our King is quite humble and He might ground us to our rooms if we get snooty about this whole Princess thing! But what if we woke up each morning and tapped the top of our heads to remind ourselves that’s where our tiara sits ….the one our King placed on our heads when we became His?
Think like a humble Princess! The smudges of life just won’t matter. You’re a princess! The aches and pains of life can’t get you down. You’re a princess! You have amazing potential! You can handle the hard things in life! You are worthy and beautiful! You’re never alone!
Embrace these things…….and guess what?
It might take a little practice but it’ll happen! The JOY will come!
Thank you sweet little ice cream smudgy wannabe Disney Princesses for this lesson. You’re precious!
(Disclaimer: None of the Disney pictures in this post were from our actual trip. The trip was taken before I had a digital camera so all my printed pics are carefully placed in a family scrap book that we still love to look at! The little princess in the final picture, however, is one I personally know …and she’s precious!)
(Disclaimer Two: If you’re a guy and you’re reading this, don’t claim the whole Princess thing. That would be weird! BUT please do claim your place as a PRINCE cause your Father is the King of Kings!)