Back in June our family went on vacation to Disney World. It was our second trip to Disney in less than two years. The first time we went we made sure to go for the full on experience since it was my two youngest’s first time being there. But this year we kind of just wanted to go and have some fun, ride the rides, eat the good (overpriced) food!
This time we were old pros at this Disney thing. We were actually pretty efficient at packing, getting down there, and getting around the parks. We even had a really great strategy on what rides we needed to ride first, and so on. It definitely wasn’t the same “magical” experience as the last time we went simply because our kids were too old to really have any interest in the Disney Characters. When you aren’t waiting in line to see Disney Characters it actually saves you A LOT of time at the park. Also, our kids are kind of becoming old pros at this Disney thing, too, which to be completely honest makes visiting Disney a little boring.
The last time we went to Disney World it was all about us, and I was able to really just indulge in the experience. But this time I just couldn’t. Like I said the “magic” was gone, and I was not happy about that. Sometimes in life you just want to indulge, and you just want to be able to find some time away from the reality of the things weighing you down.
I’m not going to lie, my number one reason for going to Disney World was because I just wanted to turn my brain off – indulge – and have fun. It made me angry that I couldn’t do that.
I remember one day as we were walking around Magic Kingdom I just looked at the people, in their eyes, wondering what their story was. I couldn’t help but feel this burden for the fact that a lot of them didn’t “look” like they were visiting the most magical place on earth. Their eyes looked empty. I wondered if they knew Jesus.
We visited the Magic Kingdom on my daughter’s 9th Birthday. As her Birthday present I took her to the Bippity Boppity Boutique. I am truly not a fan of all the makeup, fancy hairstyles, etc. But what 9 year old little girl doesn’t want to feel like a princess for a day? She was so amazingly grateful for the experience. I was so happy for my daughter, and my heart was overwhelmed that we were able to provide this experience for her. As I watched her try on her dress, get her hair done, and her nails painted. I thought about how special she was, in my eyes and in God’s eyes.
As I sat there watching her get her hair done I just happened to sit next to this lady. She began talking to me, and I felt horrible because I just wanted to TURN MY BRAIN OFF! I didn’t want to socialize, but God had me there for a reason. She was there with her daughter and her two granddaughters. We chit chatted for a little bit, sharing where we were from, she asked about Sarah, and I asked about her granddaughters.
When it was finally time for her oldest granddaughter to see her new makeover our conversation stopped, and we both watched as her chair swung around, her eyes LIT UP, and her little jaw dropped as she stared at herself in the mirror. She could hardly believe her eyes!
With tears in her eyes, her grandmother proceeded to tell me how this little girl (who was only 6 years old) was going through a terrible divorce. The grandmother was overwhelmed with JOY when she saw her granddaughter’s face light up because she just wanted her granddaughter to be forget about the terrible things she was having to go through, and to know how special she really was.
It took everything I could to hold back MY tears. I then looked at my daughter who was still getting her makeover and I thought about her year, which hadn’t been easy. In that moment I saw a little girl having a moment away from the reality of life, a life that she doesn’t always understand. In a world that is often cruel, she was being made into the princess she was designed to be.
Talking with that grandmother was my favorite part of our Disney vacation. In that moment I was finally able to slow down and see not just another face, but a person with a story.
In a crowd where all we see are faces, there are stories. If we can just slow down long enough to hear them then I think we would be so blessed just to KNOW them.
I wasn’t the only one at that park who wanted the “magical” experience because real life didn’t seem all that wonderful at the time. I was also reminded that the difficulties of life aren’t just reserved for adults, but children also face the harsh realities of this world, too. I wanted to be selfish at Disney, but in that one conversation I learned that one of the best ways to “escape” my reality is to listen, and to serve others.
My Disney experience will never be the same, but I’m OK with that. I’m sure it’ll never be “magical” in the escape-from-reality kind of way, and I’m OK with that, too. What I experienced through that conversation meant so much more to me. I pray for more divine appointments like that, the ones that give me a clearer perspective and brings me closer to a life of purpose.