Fairy tales are more than true - not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
– G.K. Chesteron
On Father’s Day, my five-year-old daughter and I watched Star Wars: The Force Awakens together. Admittedly, there are some incredibly dark and frightening aspects to the movie, but she was doing fine until Kylo Ren killed his own father, Han Solo. Then, all manner of craziness broke out in our home.
Distraught by Kylo’s patricide, she ran to her mother, who comforted her with reassuring hugs and affirmation of her feelings: “That is sad! I don’t like that part either!” After calming down, my little one came back to the living room and wanted to finish the movie. She was reassured by the end of it all when Luke and Rey finally meet.
Not two days later, my darling little girl was asking to watch the movie again but stated that she wanted to fast forward through the scary part where Kylo Ren kills his daddy.
This also happened as we were watching Beauty and the Beast just last week. She got scared at several parts and also started crying with ear-shattering volume, “I don’t want to watch this! I don’t like it; fast forward!”
I have to admit that I’m torn about whether or not fast-forwarding through the scary parts is the best idea.
Now before you go thinking that I like subjecting my children to terrifying images or that I’m advocating anyone else do likewise, I’m not. All I’m saying is that perhaps by giving into fear and fast-forwarding through the scary parts of movies and stories, we are actually simply serving and reinforcing fear. I wonder if I’m missing out on an opportunity to walk through fear with my daughter and to show her that we can emerge on the other side.
The reality of life is that the world is scary. It seems like it’s almost every other day that we get news of another mass shooting or suicide bombing. As a parent and a traveling dad, I must admit that I’m nervous any time anyone in my family (my girls or myself) leaves the house. I hate that I can’t go to a movie theater or a crowded place without wondering, “Is this the day I die?”
Sadly. This is the world now. And I have two options: face it or hide from it. Unfortunately, I’m learning that no matter what, I can’t hide from it; I can’t just fast forward through the scary parts.
I have to learn to sit in the tension of not knowing whether or not I’ll see my family after my next flight. And then I still have to go to the airport. I have to go through the scary parts.
The older my daughter gets, the more I want to teach her that fear is nothing to be afraid of. It is just an emotion, a powerful one, but an emotion nonetheless. It comes and goes, and ultimately, it is simply false because as I’ve said before: Jesus wins.
Even though Kylo Ren kills his father, I’m strongly confident that by the end of the Star Wars saga, we will see the Light Side of the Force prevail.
Even though Beauty and the Beast is full of terrifying parts (even as an adult), the movie ends as love defeats death and gives a beast his humanity.
These stories are powerful because they teach us that evil will lose, and therefore we need not be afraid. And as a husband and a father who knows he cannot completely protect the ones he loves, this is a lesson I need to practice over and over again, and it is a lesson I need to instill in the hearts of my girls.
We need to know that dragons can be beaten.
We need to know that dragons will be beaten.
So maybe I’m not so torn about this whole fast-forwarding thing anymore; maybe it’s just best to let these stories work on our hearts, to learn the hard lesson over and over again that the bad guys simply cannot win, no matter how scary it gets.
We just have to hang in there and see it through, all the way to the end.
Kylo Ren: botisaurusrex via Compfight cc
Christian is a Young Adult Ministries Coordinator for Y2AM. He is a husband, father, mover, shaker, coffee drinker, sandal wearer, and CrossFitter. Christian has his first MA from Azusa Pacific University in Marriage and Family Therapy and a second MA in Children, Youth, and Family Ministry from Luther Seminary. Christian and his family live in Phoenix, Arizona.