Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? Once I was past the picture book phase, I began to devour fairy tales, and various mythologies. There was something that just seemed so fantastic about a world with magic that could do anything, yet true love was the most mysterious and powerful thing of all. The more my reading skills grew the higher demand I had for fairy tales. I wanted the in depth look at these characters, the magic, the love.
Of course there is also Disney. Disney loves to take some of these fantastical stories and imbues even more love into them. What girl could resist dreaming about a prince or knight swooping in and riding off with her into the sunset? I could. I hated princesses; they always seemed like bratty girls who couldn’t do much for themselves (with the exception being Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles). The idea of being a princess repulsed me. Until I was fourteen at EFY (a church summer camp for teens, if you don’t speak Mormoneese) and a boy named Gus gave me the Cinderella treatment. I suddenly transformed from hating princesses to being one.
This idea of true love has become so impregnated in our society that we believe in the idea of soul mates. To me this idea is preposterous. Any creator who values letting us have our free will as much as our Father in Heaven does would not remove our ability to choose one of the most intense choices in life by making assignments. But that is a rant for another time.
Back to princesses. When Frozen came out I heard endless gushing about it. People were raving for this movie. I will openly admit that when I watched it, I was disappointed. I thought Tangled had a stronger storyline, all that Frozen seemed to have was music. Pttsh.
It wasn’t until I had watched Frozen for the millionth time (Princess Pea loves Olaf) that I began to understand its redeeming aspects. Actually, I came up with this thought after watching a different cartoon movie about a young girl working in a bath house who saves her friends. The discussion of true love comes up in both of these movies. I realized at that moment, even though true love is often pedaled as a romantic only deal, the actual thing of true love is not that at all. True love has nothing to do with the stir of feelings and twitterpatted heart thumping that comes with romance. True love is putting someone else’s needs and/or feelings before your own. Yes, this often comes dressed as that cute couple snuggling at the local Starbucks. But we forget the aspects that it is displayed larger, brighter, and more accurately: Parenthood, friendship, marriage, etc.
I think the best word to describe true love is charity. Paul describes charity as the “pure love of Christ.” Another perspective from Moroni states that without charity that without charity, we are nothing, “charity never faileth.” So what? Who cares? In this world of ever growing cynics, it is easy to be jaded, to focus on one’s self. It takes so much more effort to care for others.
In today’s world if we don’t agree with each other on anything, it becomes the ending of a relationship. The only way to show love is by accepting all aspects of someone, even ones that you don’t agree with. This is a twisted look on true love. We can truly love someone without accepting all their bad choices. The other week Princess Pea was coloring with markers in her coloring book with markers. I was watching closely, when my phone rang. I turned to check the text. When I turned back, Pea was using the marker to dye the carpet. HOLY NO! or something like that came out of my mouth. I took the marker from her little paws and scolded her. I explained that marker is only for certain papers and not for any other surface unless mommy or daddy says otherwise. Does this mean I love Princess Pea any less? I don’t accept her choice to color carpet. Actually the action of correcting Princess Pea shows that I have deep and true love for her. I love her and want more for her.
Charity is usually the harder choice. I have heard so many stories of people fighting with their spouse over something silly and insignificant. Sometimes these grudges can last for days, even weeks. It takes charity to put aside the problem and perform an act of kindness or service to the other party. It is easy to wait until the other person admits that they’re wrong.
Charity is loving others even when you have different values or lifestyles. When I was in college (the first time) I was an art major. I was attending the state college. I took the bus and train to campus every day. The first day of each semester was almost painful for me. I would enter the classroom filled with bright colored hair, tattoos everywhere, piercings, and as much exposed flesh as possible. I would find a chair in the room and walk my modestly dressed, natural hair, no tattooed self over and sat down. I would always have a few people (and often the instructor) ask me if I was in the right place, especially the more advanced the class was. I would always assure them that I was in fact in that class. The people around me would shift uncomfortably and even avoid talking to me. It would take anywhere from a few days to weeks for people to realize that I was a kooky girl who loved drawing and was really nice, even without using my body as my canvas.
One semester, I apprehensively entered my 3D design class. The eyes were all on me and I was trying to act oblivious to the judging looks, when a friend from a previous semester leapt off his stool and rushed over to me. He wrapped his tattooed arms around me and told me how happy he was to see me. This simple act of openly acknowledging that I was meant to be in that class not only showed to our peers that I was where I belonged, but it showed me that I mattered enough to him. It would have been easier for him to casually greet me with a head nod, but that act of charity helped others in the class to look past my lack of artsy appearance and accept me as a member of their group.
Charity is service. There was a girl in my single’s ward that drove me nuts. I struggled with being kind to her. I felt like her life was a cesspool of bad choices and getting deeper all the time. One of these wonderfully brilliant choices was to move out of her parent’s house when she had no car, no job, no money. She moved in with another girl in the ward and her parents. She found a job, but couldn’t get there because of a lack of transportation. I wanted to toss her a bus schedule and tell her to figure it out (keep in mind that from the time of I was eighteen to twenty-one, I rode the bus a lot). Instead she scraped together funds and bought a scooter. I couldn’t believe the insanity of having a scooter as a primary mode of transportation in Colorado (in case you aren’t familiar, it snows here. We’ve had snow in May).
I heard that she was driving without safety gear. I had in my closet a motorcycle jacket and helmet that I had bought when I had been dating a lot of motorcycle guys. I dusted them off and took them over to her. I told her she needed to be safe. Sure it wasn’t horribly hard for me to drive my car over to her and hand her items that were currently taking up valuable closet space and give them too her. But I did struggle. I had dreamed of owning my own motorcycle someday and giving her my helmet and jacket was like giving up that dream. I struggled because I didn’t agree with her choice to buy a scooter as her transportation. But I saw that she needed my helmet and jacket and I gave it to her. She tried to write me a check, but I refused. I saw the emotion and deep gratitude that came to her from the simple act of handing her the items. It changed the way I viewed her. She was no longer the annoying girl that drove me nuts. She was now a lost girl who was doing her best. She was my sister.
Charity is choosing the better part. In the bible there is the famous story of Mary and Martha. We can examine this story to death. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, I’ll summarize. Jesus came to Mary and Martha’s house. Martha was cooking, cleaning, etc…, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. Annoyed Martha asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. Jesus told Martha that Mary had made the better choice. This story is told a lot in Relief Society and Young Women’s lessons. Poor Martha gets a lot of flak for working rather than listening to Jesus, but it’s not too different when we choose the things of less importance over the better part.
I’ll be honest and admit there are times when I choose to be on Shmacebook or Shminterest rather than playing with Princess Pea or talking to Superman. There are times when I choose to take the easy way out in my visiting teaching and just drop off a card rather than actually visiting. There are times when skimming a scripture becomes my daily scripture study. The list could go on.
Besides laziness, sometimes we don’t choose the better part because we want to do the more notable thing. I remember a talk by Elder Uchtdorf about staying up all night making pot holders for a lesson the next day. It seems silly to stay up all night to make something. Or maybe it’s not even staying up all night, but any time we put more than is needful effort into something causes us to give up time that would be better used on the better part.
The better part could be many things: scripture, prayer, spending time with family. It could also be shoveling the neighbor’s driveway, brushing off your wife’s car before going to work, talking to the tearful teen on the bus. It could be as simple as offering a sincere smile and greeting to someone walking by.
If we utilize charity in our daily lives, we will be happier, feel better about ourselves, and our world around us. If we focus on truly loving others (even strangers) then we can change the world (even if we’re only changing ourselves). The ability to choose is the strongest force in the universe, let’s choose charity.