I fell in love with film when I was about four years old. I loved how a story could transport you to another world, even if it was just for a little while. For all of 90 minutes you could be anything from a lion cub to a warrior princess. You could go on crazy adventures, discover new worlds and play a significant part that changed the world forever. A welcome escape from a broken world. Every time I walked out of a cinema, I would re-enact my favourite scenes and try to cling to this wonder world as long as I possibly could.
As I grew older, the love affair continued to grow. It became quite addictive. As I grew, so did the characters. They became more complex. More real. Closer to home. Something happens to a creative mind when it grows up. It loses the ability to fully immerse itself in another world. I think it’s because it becomes too painful to return to the present reality. You start raising walls to protect yourself from ever fully experiencing that childish wonder ever again. It’s just not worth it.
Instead of traveling to the 1920×1080 dimension, I chose to analyse. I would analyse the camera angles, the colour, the character’s growth. You name it. I would obsess and dig until I figured out exactly what the director and screenwriter tried to convey. An expert critic. After all, everything had to mean something. Why would you waste a perfectly great platform to communicate absolutely nothing?
I still watch films like this today, but a penny dropped in my spirit a few weeks ago. Don’t get me wrong, films that communicate absolutely nothing still frustrate me and push all my buttons at once. I guess some things never change. I have my reasons. Good ones. Promise.
Anyway, back to the penny. There is an age gap of 20 years between me and my youngest cousin. This little girl has taught me so much about life and God’s Father heart. I adore her. Little humans have a way of bringing deep restoration and healing to the little humans in our hearts. Sometimes I can just shake my head in awe… This little girl, just like me, has a deep love for stories.
She came to visit my sister and I one Friday evening for a movie night. I tried my best not to emanate my disapproval as she picked out “Trolls” from the rack. I already ran through the plot line, just by looking at the cover. A singing, dancing, glitter-poohing princess, who was kidnapped and had to be rescued from an evil thingamabob by prince sparkle-puff. Bloody good show, I’d say.
My cousins eyes grew twice as big, as she instantly turned into a human bouncy ball.
“Yay! Yay! This one! This one!”, she yelled.
Side-note: When you are this cute and tiny, you instinctively know that you have to repeat everything you say, just so everyone can keep up while trying their best to resist the urge of dunking you in their coffee. Thoughtful.
Reluctantly, I agreed that I would sit and watch this one with her. We nestled in with some popcorn, and buckled up for the crazy sing-a-long ride.
Plot twist. Princess Poppy, an overly-enthusiastic colourful burst of happiness, ventures to rescue her friends from the dreaded Bergens. Half-way through I found myself smiling like an idiot and humming along to all the songs. As I peeked over to the little girl next to me, she didn’t look so little any more. Her eyes were filled with the same wonder as mine, and the same grin was glued to her face. For those 92 minutes we were the same age.
As I waved her good-bye, my eyes began to swim. I realised that I spent so much time over-analysing and building walls, that I silenced the little girl in my heart. I sent her to the corner, with no explanation and no warning.
Jesus said in Luke 18:16 – 17: “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Like a child. Uncomplicated. Unhindered. Lost in wonder.
The reality is that bills, chores, responsibilities and disappointments suffocate the children within us. It’s almost like they don’t stand a chance. I believe there’s a Voice within all of us. A Voice that inspires us to dream outrageous dreams, to see beyond walls, to go where no one has gone before; but as we grow up this Voice is reduced to nothing but a whisper. We’ve forgotten how to listen. We’ve forgotten how to dream.
Our lives become one big show. Lights. Camera. Action. Keep within the lines. Walk, talk and act as expected. There’s no room for childish games, vulnerability, fun or ambitions. Life is serious. Get with the script.
As I wiped the tears, I walked over to the corner and embraced the shamed little girl. We sat together on a bench with our Father in the garden of my heart. She giggled and danced through long-forgotten dreams. I could feel my spirit being lifted and parts of my identity being restored. It dawned on me that dreaming was deeply woven into our design. We often judge childlike faith and childlikeness as a weakness in character, as living with your head in the clouds… This is our mistake, and sadly our loss.
It’s time we allow ourselves to be lost in childlike wonder. To féél again. To dream again. The bigger and bolder, the better.
It’s a risk. I know. But it’ll be so worth it.