Have Courage and Be Kind

There really is nothing new under the sun.

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  Ecc 1:9

I recently saw the gospel message presented with peasants, princesses, and pumpkins. It was a timeless message and was as clear as glass…a glass slipper. Disney-Cinderella-Shoes-964x644Well..maybe it wasn’t exactly the gospel message. There was no cross, no eloquent evangelist, and no one with John 3:16 painted on a sign, but it was still good news and it echoed words that have been spoken through scripture for thousands of years.

It is quite possible that I was one of the most excited people on the planet when the trailer for the live action Cinderella was first released. Many years ago, it was my daughter’s favorite movie and the old VHS tape became threadbare and worn from all the rewindings and rewatchings. What a blessing that we were able to see it together on her twentieth birthday! While there were distinct differences from the original, the message remained loud and redemptive: Have courage. Be kind. Forgive.

The good news of the gospel can be found in the strangest of places: in everyday life, the ordinary and mundane, and in the extremes of heartbreaking tragedy and breathtaking triumph. Yes, the gospel message can even resonate in a classic fairy tale brought to life in vivid technicolor on a larger than life screen. Would young Ella’s story have looked different without her mother’s instructions to “have courage and be kind”?  Is it true that some form of “fear not” or “do not be afraid” is found in scripture exactly 365 times? Maybe not, but there are many other ways we are assured of rest, security, and peace, without reiterating those specific words. Multiple times in the Old Testament we see: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

What would our stories look like if we followed that directive? Fear not. Be strong and courageous. What if we remembered “I am with you”? Would it be easier to complete the remainder of the headline “Be kind”? How about “Be gentle, be self-controlled, be patient, be at peace, be humble, or be lacking in nothing”?

The world often portrays characteristics like humility and meekness as weak rather than strong, courageous, or desirable; but it takes strength to be kind, strength to be humble, strength to forgive. Most viewers are familiar with the simple storyline of Cinderella: good vs evil, love triumphing over hate, persistence in doing the right thing…  This particular version seasoned the ending a little differently. After her princely pursuit and release from captivity, as she is led to freedom, Cinderella offers her bully, her tormentor, words of freedom and grace. Spoken from a place of inner strength and kindness, no hint of bitterness, resentment, or intent to retaliate, she spoke the three kindest, most courageous works spoken during the entire film:

                                           “I forgive you.”

When people have been unkind, have put us in a place of pain or fear, or have just been downright cruel, are we able to stand in courage, walk in love and kindness, and boldly proclaim “I forgive you”?

It is ultimately a choice to have courage. A choice to be afraid. A choice to be kind. A choice to be unkind. A choice to forgive. Choosing the right path isn’t always easy, but it is always liberating. Have courage. Be kind. Forgive.

 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”   1Cor 13:4-7

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