Monday, September 28, 2015

Why I Believe in the Power of Happily Ever Afters


Cinderella Happily Ever After

Way back in April I wrote a post about why I believe we enjoy dark and gruesome things in our fiction. Today I want to share with you my completely opposing thoughts on that. You should know, I’m a paradox. As in, I somehow manage to be two totally contradictory things at the same time and have utterly contradictory thoughts on basically any subject. Seriously, I could make an argument for both sides for almost anything. It’s ridiculous. And confusing. (But also sometimes useful because I often can serve as a mediator.)

Anyway, you might want to read that first post before this one because I’ll be referencing it a lot and telling you why I think we should have both dark and fluffy stories.

We all know the line. . . “And they lived happily ever after.” Disney has pounded this in our heads since we were wee things dancing around to their happy little songs. (Okay, sometimes we still do that, don’t deny it.) Something about a happy ending is satisfactory. There’s nothing like that blissful feeling of reading the last page of a book where everything has been all tidied up and we can close the cover knowing our beloved characters are now off living happy lives beyond the pages.

But why? Aren’t those “happily ever afters” unrealistic? I mean, just because you married a handsome prince doesn’t mean your life is going to be perfect paradise to the end of your days. As I said in the previous post, life isn’t fluffy.

BUT, and this is a big but here, life is NOT all darkness and horror and grittiness either. I know sometimes it feels that way, trust me, I know very well. Sometimes life is just downright awful and those happily ever afters seem more unrealistic than ever. But I think that’s the very reason we need them.Peter Pan - Happiest Things

Why do we read books or watch TV? Escapism. We want to escape the real world for a little while. We want to laugh with the hobbits in the Shire, dance with the fauns in Narnia, search for treasure with Peter Pan in Neverland. We want to reawaken that child-like wonder inside all of us within the beauty and magic of words. Fiction can be a wonderful thing. And as unrealistic as it may often seem, it can teach us so much about the very real lives we’re living. It can inspire. Who isn’t inspired by the jolly, simple life of a hobbit? Of Lucy Pevensie’s faith? Or Captain America’s deep sense of justice? Fiction teaches us and inspires us and helps us in this crazy and often scary place we call life.

Sometimes we need something lighthearted to remind us that no matter how dark things are, light can always be found.

My mom and little sister aren’t big on dark fiction. They much prefer the cheeriness of Anne of Green Gables or Andy Griffith, and I think that’s fantastic. I love how they expose themselves to lighter, happier things. Not to say there’s anything wrong with dark fiction (I made a whole post about why it’s important after all), I personally love it! And that’s the point right there. We should expose ourselves to things that make us happy (ya know, as long as they’re not sinful), not things that depress us or tear us down. I’ve watched the Lord of the Rings movies around 23849 times, but it’d be insane for my mom to watch them over and over again, because she doesn’t like them. Mirram Neal fairly recently did a wonderful post on focusing on the things in life that make us better mentally, not worse. It’s something that’s on my mind a lot. I encourage you to read it!

There are a lot of people out there who don’t want to deal with dark fiction, and that’s OKAY. Happy stories are good! And having hard issues in fiction is good, too. VARIETY is good. The Hunger Games is one of my favorite books, yet so is Howl’s Moving Castle. The first one is very dark and depressing, the second makes me laugh and grin from the first sentence to the last. But what if we only had one or the other type? Just dark stuff or just fluffy? That wouldn’t be very useful.

We need fiction that brings up the hard issues and helps us face the “dragons” of our lives. To learn how to be brave and deal with the hardships of life. But we also need happy stories. Why? (Yes, I’m finally getting to my main point. I’ve gone around the world to get there, I know.) This is why I believe we need happy stories. . .

Because we need to be reminded there is always HOPE.

Maybe marrying a handsome prince won’t bring us a happily ever after, but clinging to Jesus, our Prince of Peace, will assure us eternal hope. No, life isn’t easy, but God has promised His children a Perfect Paradise after this life. We really do have a happily ever after to look forward to. And right now we have joy in Him no matter the hardships pounding on us.

Fluffy stories, happy endings, they provide a break from the weariness of life. They show us light and joy can be found. They remind us of HOPE. Someday our Prince WILL come. Someday we will have a happily ever after.

So whether you like the dark stories that help us face our dragons, or the happy ones that remind us we have hope, that’s okay. Either way, fiction is a powerful thing. And if we use it right, it can be a wonderful thing.

There is Always Hope

24 comments:

  1. THIS POST. I want to transform this and its dark-story-partner into bookends and keep them on a shelf forever. <333

    It's so true--these stories remind us there's hope. They make us laugh. They point out beauty. Sometimes when I'm going through a rough spot, I just don't /want/ to read an intense book. I don't want to shoulder the character's heavy burdens along with my own. But I'll gladly escape into a fluffy novel for a while, and let myself care about someone else's smaller issues for a change. Then, more relaxed, I can better face what's going on in my own life. (Of course, most of the time I happily plunk myself in the middle of fictional life-or-death battles and quests to save the universe. This aversion to them is an exception.)

    Happily ever afters remind me of what awaits on the other side of eternity: our own happily ever after. That kind of ending reminds me that yes, we do win! Yes, we have hope! Yes, there are good things in store, both here and in heaven. (Basically everything you just said.)

    And the bit about being a walking paradox... Girl, join the club! XD

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    1. Into bookends. Oh my word, the way you put things, I can't! XDDD

      Exactly! If our life is already full of a lot of hard things, it doesn't always help exposing ourselves to yet more darkness. Sometimes we just need a smile or laugh to help us get through it. To remind us there's still beauty in the world. But yes, usually I'm all for a perilous (fictional) journey! ;D

      The Paradox Girls. Lol! That sounds like a band or something. XD It's quite a confuzzling life being us.

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  2. Can... can I just huggle this entire post? *proceeds to do so* Sometimes I write enormous comments responding to your awesome posts but today I find I have nothing to say because you've just said it all perfectly and far better than I could. ^_^ HAPPILY EVER AFTERS AND HOPE AND READING UPLIFTING BOOKS AND ALL OF IT. I love you and your brain Lauri. *huggles* Hope. HOPE. There is always hope! (Aragorn even said that in the movie. ;)) Which is why I don't like reading stuff like HG and many other books I could name because they DON'T have room for hope, at least for me. But that's for another day. Great post!! <3

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    1. Eeeeeee!!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I thought you'd like this post. ^_^ I couldn't very well go off writing a post about dark stories without reminding everyone happily ever afters are a wonderful thing as well. What would fiction be if there were no happy endings? *shudders* I'd rather not think about it.

      There IS always hope! And in today's world, I think we need to be reminded of that more than ever.

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  3. This is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you sooo much for posting this ^_^ I agree with you 100% on everything you said :)

    One of the most beautiful things to me is finding hope in stories. It shows us that, despite the pain, the fear, and the doubt that life often brings, there is a bright light shining at the end of the dark tunnel. The hope that these stories bring remind us that we have a purpose in life--to serve the King of Kings, the Light of the World.

    This is actually something I've been thinking about recently. I feel like the happy stories and the dark ones often go hand-in-hand. Because the truth is, sometimes life is downright hard. But "even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer."

    So yes, we will have many troubles in this life. But we have hope of a bright future, and that's something worth fighting for.

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    1. Oh, I'm so glad you liked it! You are so welcome, it was my pleasure! It's something that's been rolling around my mind ever since I did the dark stories post.

      You put that so beautifully. Hope is my absolute favorite thing to find in any story! I think pretty much every story I write myself has threads of the message of hope woven all throughout the pages. I never can seem to help myself.

      Yes! That's precisely how I feel about it. My favorite type of story is the dark one that has a light at the end of the tunnel. That shows us our pain is only temporary, and though we will have trials, there's still always light to be had. And that quote! THANK YOU! I kept thinking of LotR quotes, there are so many good ones involving this subject. Tolkien was the master at spreading hope throughout his stories. But I'm afraid I was too lazy to find just the right quote.

      Yes, yes, and yes! Thank you for putting that so eloquently! <3

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  4. This. Yup. This is what I've always thought and try to explain to people who think books shouldn't have happy endings because it's not "realistic". If someone's a Christian, and they write a book where the characters don't live happily ever after, THEY'RE the one isn't being realistic! In my opinion anyway.

    And for the record it's the happy stories that get me through hard things, not the ones that are all dark. Because of the hope. It's the hope, the knowledge of the happily ever after to come, that shows me how to fight dragons. Because even in the "fluffy happy books", the characters have a hard time, and could win or lose something. Cinderella's life was HORRIBLE before she got her happily ever after.
    So I guess I'd say I like slightly (very slightly) dark books, that are still enjoyable and fun, but that have happy endings. Because that's the truth, but nobody seems to think so.

    HAPPY ENDINGS FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    (AND I CAN COMMENT ON YOUR BLOG NOW BECAUSE THERE'S AN ANONYMOUS BUTTON!!!!!)

    Your squishy,
    Rebekah

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    1. My Squishy is commenting on my blog!!! DAY = MADE. I should have set an anonymous option ages ago, I don't know what I was thinking.

      Very true. Happy endings can absolutely be realistic. Now, I do think sad endings can be as well, life doesn't always turn out how we want, BUT we still always have hope in Jesus. So even if there's a sad ending I'd like a strand of hope somewhere in there, you know?

      I understand that! And you make a very good point. Cinderella definitely had it awful, but she kept pushing through, and kept her kind heart, never growing bitter, and was rewarded for it. We can learn a lot from that.
      I think that's my favorite type of book as well! Hardships throughout the book but with a satisfying ending to show us that if our characters can make it out of the darkness, so can we.

      Huzzah for happy endings! :D

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  5. DFKDJKALKDFJAK. This was beautiful, from "Way back in April..." to "...it can be a wonderful thing!" :')

    I think both highs and lows compliment each other, so to speak. If there were no valleys, the happy endings wouldn't be as special! And if there were no happy endings, there would be no hope in the dark times! If that makes sense, lol. XD Argh, yes, there is always hope because there is always Jesus! <3 Hallelujah! *celebrates* *with balloons and confetti and cake* *and music*

    <3 Koko @ His Little Elephant

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    1. Thank you!!!

      That makes perfect sense, and something I kind of meant to say but never got too deeply into it. I was more comparing the dark and fluffy, but my favorite stories are BOTH. Where darkness and light are perfectly threaded into the story to show us hope in the dark times, like you said. Love how you put that!

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  6. Amen to that, sister! I am so looking forward to my happily ever after, with my perfect Prince of Peace. :)

    ~Lizzy

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    1. Oh my yes! What a joyful day it shall be! ^_^

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  7. This made me so happy, I needed that today.
    :D

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  8. Thank you so much for writing this post. For me, the search for hope is one of the reasons I read books at all. I always want to find that "light at the end of the tunnel" when I'm reading. That's why I love Tolkien so much...

    "Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out all the clearer."

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    1. It was my delight to! Yes, yes, yes! I so love when stories give me that passion to keep pushing through the hard times and remind me God is with me every step of the way. That's my favorite thing to write about as well. Tolkien was the MASTER at weaving hope in his stories!

      Such a perfect quote! <3

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  9. Awesome post, Lauri! Very good insight into why stories with happy endings are definitely NOT without merit. I agree that variety is key; I would never want to read a story that was all dark or all fluff. But I do lean more toward the happier side of things, lol. I think Harry Potter and LOTR are great examples of balance in regard to that.

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    1. Thank you!!! I am the exact same way. I LOVE the stories that mixes both light and dark, but I'd prefer they ended on a more happier side. If I spend that much time with the characters, I want to know they're at least semi okay by the end of the book. ;)

      Indeed! There is so much darkness in LotR, but there is also so much LIGHT. I just love it!

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  10. AH, I love this post, Christine! Love it! Thank you for posting it!
    This bit I especially love: "Sometimes we need something lighthearted to remind us that no matter how dark things are, light can always be found." So true!
    And I completely agree, hope can always be found! *tosses confetti happily*
    ~Savannah Perran

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    1. Eeee, thank you! It was my pleasure to write! Something I've been wanting to do for a while now. I'm so glad you enjoyed it!
      Indeed it can! *tosses confetti with you*

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  11. I love this! I so agree with this. I wrote a post similar to this one about the whole matter. I love happy endings. I like that after the darkness and grittiness the characters have gone through, that their story ends well. That doesn't mean that their lives are trouble free, but that they're not being traumatized anymore and the world is not going to explode. XD Fiction has helped grow so much and when I get so engaged in the characters, I don't want them to all die in the end. XD

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh, you did? That's awesome! Great minds think alike. ;) It's so nice to know others feel the same way about this. I feel like happily ever afters get a lot of bashing and I just don't think that's right.

      Yes! Loved how you put that, how the characters' lives might not be trouble free, but at least whatever adventure they had at the time got resolved and they grew into better people because of it. That's the best kind of story to me. Fiction has helped me grow SO much, too, and yes, if all my beloved heroes died well, that wouldn't be very encouraging, now would it? Lol.

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  12. Beautiful :)

    So true! "Someday our Prince WILL come."

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    1. Thank you!!

      Yes, He will! It's such a delightful thought. ^_^

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