Maybe it’s because I’ve been at the ocean for the past week, but lately, I’ve been having these Little Mermaid flashbacks. There’s something super mysterious about the sea. When I try to imagine what lies beneath the cresting waves, I get a headache. It’s that mind-boggling. That must be how the Little Mermaid felt about dry land. There was so much world waiting to be explored – so many things that needed to be discovered… And she discovered it, all right. According to Disney, she left everything, sacrificed her voice, and landed the prince. Life is good for the Little Mermaid, right? Not the way Hans Christian Andersen tells it. But since you can’t tell a little kid that the fairytale heroine sacrificed greatly, felt tremendous pain, and eventually died without ever achieving her intended goal, Disney decided to give “Ariel” a happy ending. And while I have a few things to say about Hans Christian Andersen’s version, I’ll save that for a later date. Today, we are talking about Ariel and the way she took the wrong approach to love.
Ariel pops up to the surface, takes a look around, and sees something she likes: Prince Eric. That, in itself, is not bad. The bad stuff happens when she starts obsessing over it. As Sebastian would say, “Ariel thinks the seaweed is greener in somebody else’s lake.” Her entire mind becomes wrapped around the fantasy of what it would be like to become a “part of that world.” Then she does the unthinkable. She contacts the sea witch, sacrifices her voice and risks everything for one chance at becoming “part of that world.” Luckily for her, it worked out in the end. Not only did she land the prince (pardon the pun), but she frees the merpeople from the influence of the evil sea witch by vanquishing her forever. But what if she hadn’t fared so well? What if her story had kept the ending of Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid? What would she have gained for all her sacrifice? Would the sacrifice have been worth it?
I can hear you now: “Heck no!” Why? Because the Little Mermaid had an entire ocean to explore. Surely she hadn’t ventured to every single corner of it, just as you and I have never covered every single square inch of the earth (and the ocean is twice as large as the land, just saying). The chances of her making a prince fall in love with her when she couldn’t even communicate the depths of her heart with him are slim to none. Had she failed, she probably would have spent the rest of her life thinking about how wrong she had been.
I feel like we are doing the same thing the Little Mermaid did. Here we are, swimming in the sea of singleness and not seeing how vast and beautiful it is. We are prematurely thrusting ourselves onto the shore of marriage and relationships. And we are more closely resembling the Hans Christian Andersen story than the Disney version we all long for. We deeply desire to become a “part of that world” when we were meant for the world we are swimming in here and now. Whether you were meant for the ocean or the shore is not for me to decide, but I want to leave you with this final question:
Is your final destination worth the sacrifice you are making? And would the pain be worth it if you didn’t get what you are seeking in the end?