Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life Is Not A Fairy Tale

So something I've been thinking about a lot lately is how most or all of the people I know like to read books with happy endings, watch movies with happy endings, and listen to music with happy messages. And I've been thinking about that. I think it's silly.
Let me explain more. Everybody knows (or should know) that life is not fair, and that things do not turn out the way we want them to a majority of the time. And yet, I think that saturating ourselves with the message to everything will turn out okay is just lying to ourselves. Everything will not turn out okay. There most likely will not be a happy ending, a Princess Charming (nice, huh?), or a joyful death. Life is about things going wrong.
And don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we shouldn't indulge in happy endings and messages sometimes, because there's a time for everything. But I think we should definitely balance things out. If you're going to watch a Jane Austen movie, read a John Steinbeck book (On Sunday, I read The Pearl and Of Mice And Men. They were both really good, and they made me think. Today, I finished The Old Man and the Sea. Hemingway and Steinbeck both believe in what I'm saying in this post. Or, I guess you could say that I believe what they say in their books.). If you're going to listen to K-Love (Positive, encouraging, K-Love! Ugh. Makes me wanna throw up. Even the Christian life is not supposed to be completely positive and encouraging.), then listen to Bright Eyes. Okay, maybe don't listen to Bright Eyes. But listen to somebody who doesn't believe in happy, happy, happy.
Life is not a fairy tale. There's no promise that I'm going to get married, have some wonderful kids, and live my life out happy and content, going to work five days a week and comfortably supporting my family. What way of knowing is there that those things will happen? If I do get married (A BIG if right now), everything will not be easy. What did life after the end of Pride and Prejudice look like? There's a reason it's not included in the book (for one thing, the book was getting too long.), and that's because people don't like to read books that don't satisfy our appetite for happiness. And happiness cannot endure forever.
I can get fed up with people who believe that "everything's going to be all right." Life gives no guarantee of that, and we shouldn't expect it to be so.


  1. I think you have a point--life in this fallen world is not guaranteed (every breath is a gift) and "the good life" is certainly not guaranteed.

    However, we do have an invincible hope, Jesus, who inexorably redeems the darkest corners of life if we allow him to. Jesus is the champion and every story with Jesus at the center leads inevitably to a happy ending.

  2. i agree with arie -- and with you. i don't think there's happy endings, plural. i think for those who belong to Jesus there's an ultimate happy ending. and for those who don't ... it's the eternal tragedy.

    i second your comments on k-love and jane austen, by the way.

  3. Like you said, Arie, I think the key to the invincible hope is to allow Him to work. It's hard to do that sometimes.

  4. happiness cannont endure forever but joy can.
    why do you think that we put so much emphasis on "fairy tales" if that was not planted deep down in our core desires? I don't think it's something we as people have made up. I think it's something that dwells in us all and the enemy loves to crush and destroy those hopes from an early age. i have lots of thoughts on this.

  5. I wonder if maybe the place for fairy tales is to remind us of the REALITY of THE ultimate happy ending, when Christ, Prince Charming to his Bride, will return and will make all things new, set all wrongs right. Because that's awfully hard to believe in sometimes... Especially when the whole drift of the world, the gas we breathe in every day as we live in an environment hostile to faith (and fairy tales), when that whole drift disbelieves and mocks the idea that Christ is anything other than a nice fairy tale for people who need help coping.

    And then you're right about life being anything but a fairy tale, Peter. I think of Romans 8:19-25. All creation, "subjected to futility" in all its decay and death and disaster, groans in anguish and anticipation. And we groan with it because we can't wait for the FULFILLMENT of the promise that's been hinted at by the gift of the Spirit. Here's what I'm getting at: "...hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience." So perhaps the fairy tales (and most of them are raaather silly :P) have value in their ability to stir up "memories" and longings (groanings) for the hope that seems so distant, so incongruous with the reality we find ourselves in every morning we wake up...

    Last thought: I love Psalms. David understood pain, disappointment, failure, darkness, fear--and hope.

    Good post, Pedro. Makes me think, and that's always a good thing. Now and then. :)

  6. Exactly, that's a great way to say it Daniel. Because Christ is our King and savior and in the end we know that there is victory and we are fighting for the right thing. That's why stories like the Lord of the Rings bring out such deep feelings and longings in us, it's real life stuff just portrayed a little differently ;-)

  7. Nate chimes in....

    I also identify with this thought. I have an knack at predicting the supposed "surprise" twists in movies. (my siblings think of this knack as annoying.) I think it comes because you almost always know there's going to be a happy ending, and then hollywood is set in their ways for achieving that.

    Wednesday I saw Defiance, about Jews who hide out in the woods and resist the Germans. The movie was good (could have been great); I don't recommend seeing it, though. I was led there unknowing of some content. The ceiling was very interesting through a couple of scenes.

    Anyway, one thing that I thoroughly enjoyed was that I couldn't hardly predict anything that was coming. That's because it's based on a real story, and like you all have been saying, life just isn't like a happy story.

    What kind of story has Christ called us to, anyway? The hero dies, unjustly, a tortured death. He is rejected by his friends, abandoned. Even when he comes back, it's not as an invincible warrior, striking down all who thought him conquered. (though that day is coming) But instead, he returns for a short time, and revives his disciples. All but one are martyred. Millions follow them. Our open enemies harass, mock, persecute, and kill us. Our hidden enemies do false works in God's name, spread lies, cause empathy and internal fighting, and subvert the Word. Others are led along.

    I rejoice in knowing that some day God is going to come back and clean house. It won't be one man rushing through and taking down determined enemies by the score. It'll be him leading an army, while his enemies fall to their knees and seek to hide themselves. And he will wipe them out, no contest. Our sin natures will be gone (YES!), and we will be with Christ once more, forever and ever.

    Happy ending. Not quite the typical method of going about it, though. I shut up now.