Monday, June 2, 2008

"Trapped in the Magic Mirror"

Stories are powerful things. Even Jesus knew that the power of a parable could provoke deep thoughts, change hearts, and transform lives. Likewise, the every day stories we hear have a great impact on our thoughts and behaviors. The things that we read, watch, and listen to make an impact, whether positive or negative (and whether we know it or not!).

So, imagine the possibility that “harmless stories” (such as fairy tales), have contributed to a destructive mental process in your mind. This is something that I have been thinking about as I have begun reading the book “Trapped in the Magic Mirror” by Deborah B. Dunn. In the introduction, she says “fairy tales have an uncanny ability to illustrate values and beliefs and to mold how we think.”

With that being said, shouldn’t we be aware of the messages that they are sending? If you really think about it, they aren’t illustrating very positive concepts. The romantic fantasies and pretty painted pictures of “happily ever after” make for a big disappointment when every little princess eventually finds out that “prince charming” isn’t always what he’s “supposed” to be.
All the hyped up romantic stories, movies, music, etc. all encourage these ideal fantasies of what blissful relationships are supposed to be like. We’re all programmed into thinking that we really can have a fairy tale life. Just like the stories and movies, we are convinced that when we find true love, we’ll be swept off our feet and carried off to paradise forever with our perfect mate. We’ll sing, smile, and share a beautiful passionate kiss before the book closes and reads: “and they lived happily ever after.” Though, in all actuality, it should read something like: “and they lived normally ever after…..through the good AND bad times and through times where the prince got yelled at by the princess for forgetting their anniversary, spending too much time with his royal buddies…etc. and through the times the prince nearly went bankrupt after the princess ran up royal credit card debt, gained 50 pounds from bearing royal heirs….etc..” In other words, life has no perfect endings and the media lies to us.

Of course, these perfect stories, movies, etc. don’t make money off of the honest truth of reality. That’s why they alter our perceptions and expectations by appealing to our emotions and creating these ideal feelings. Therefore, people everywhere (particularly females) get sucked into believing all the unrealistic fantasies. Then, suffer intense heartbreak and disillusionment when they finally have to come to grips with reality. After the honeymoon is over, and real life begins, they realize that relationships are more than just “sweep you off your feet” moments and feelings.

Even when confronted with the reality that life is no fairy tale, some of us still cling to the impossible ideas of trouble-free fairy tale marriages and happy endings. I know that I am guilty of this. I was raised on way too much fantasy. I was a fairy tale fanatic!! And, as a result, my poor husband has often had to deal with my impossible dreams of unrealistic romantic fantasies that never end up being like the stories and ideas my mind was programmed with from childhood on up. I’ve always had a big imagination, and so, I often spend too much time in my head thinking/wishing for things that aren’t there. Then, I end up getting disappointed and let down when my dreams don’t become realities.

So, why would I frustrate myself that way? Well, it’s for the simple fact (as the author affirms) that fantasy is more fun that reality. With fantasy, we are in control and the sky’s the limit. In the real world, we are met with endless roadblocks and disappointments. Therefore, we avoid it at all costs by living in our ideal world of what the author calls “romantic thinking.“ She defines it as “thought processes that allow us to see what we want to see instead of what is really true.“ Sure, that may be fun for a while, but where does it get you? The author says: “an obsession with romance becomes a weapon that breaks our hearts, ruins our marriage, and ultimately destroys our spirits.” Boy is that ever true!! Relying on unrealistic and excessively high expectations is always a prescription for a broken heart. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have suffered in the past because of my “romantic thinking.” I always picked the wrong boyfriends, got horribly disappointed, and then wondered where I went wrong. Even now, I have struggled because marriage is a LOT harder than just a teen romance. Satan works extra hard to cause problems in a marriage, and man has he ever reeked havoc on ours over the years! No fairy tale every told me that communication break-downs are a certainty or that having kids makes things tougher or that the financial strains and the responsibilities of life can complicate things. The list just goes on and on….

Well, now that I know and recognize the truth, that should make forsaking the lies easier right? Wrong!! Putting down that lying magic mirror that shows you what you want to see is a struggle no matter who you are!! EVERYONE has times where they wish that something/someone was different and that things could be the way they see it in their minds. Think about it. You KNOW it’s true!! How many times have any of us thought, “if only he/she would do this….” or “if only this were different….”? I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have thought things like that!! But, as we all know, you can’t change anyone or anything; you can only change yourself.

In order to change, we need to quit picking up that magic mirror. In fact, we need to SMASH IT!! The key to doing that is to unlearn the crap that we have learned and learn the stuff we are supposed to learn! In other words, de-junking our minds and re-programming. The best de-junker and re-programmer is God. Through prayer, surrender, and repentance, God cleans us out. Then, He fills us with the good things of His Word. He renews our minds and retrains our brains to think with the mind of Christ. Through Him, we are taught that the ultimate goal in life is to love him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). True fulfillment and bliss is found in nothing or no one other than Christ. If you aren’t satisfied with Him, you will be satisfied with nothing else and will always crave more of whatever your heart is fixed upon. You’ll always want what you can’t have and what you think that you’re missing. You’ll always be searching for whatever you think will fill the void.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of this book and sharing its contents with others. If any of this has spoken to you as it has to me thus far, I encourage you to buy your own copy so that you can read along and take it all in. There’s so much wisdom and insight packed in here, and I can’t possibly articulate it all without going on and on or quoting it word for word. So please, consider reading it for yourself so you don’t miss anything that might particularly speak to you!! I pray that your heart will be as blessed as mine is!!

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