Sunday, September 28, 2014

Without Love

I get really good ideas in the bathroom. The novella I’m working on for Go Teen Writers’ 100-for-100 sprang from me thinking in the shower about gargoyles and the concept of “notebook spawn.” I make my life decisions while I’m brushing my teeth, and think of blog post ideas on the toilet.

I know there’s some sort of scientific reason for this, but my point is that the bathroom is really conducive for idea generation. At least for me.

So that is where this idea came from.

Disney’s Princess and the Frog is kind of like Paul when he’s writing to the church in Corinth. Woah.

Why Tiana and Paul are on the Same Wavelength
By Heather

If you’ve never had a chance to look at 1 Corinthians 13:1–3, take a look really quick at the NIV version, which I have borrowed from BibleGateway.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

In other words, if you’re doing the right things for the wrong reasons, then you’re still doing the wrong thing. Yes, you’re doing stuff, but unless it comes from love, then that stuff doesn’t matter.

That’s all very well and good, Heather, but how exactly does that tie in with Disney’s first princess of color?

Think about Tiana’s greatest influence: her daddy. This was a guy who worked long, hard hours, probably doing backbreaking work and receiving little compensation for his efforts. He loved cooking—sure, he had a day job, but it never gave him the same fulfillment. More than that, he cherished passing on his love for cooking to his daughter and sharing his creations with his neighborhood.

He had a gift and a dream unfulfilled (a restaurant)—but he had love.

Fast forward a decade or so, and Tiana holds the same dream. She imagines her fairy tale coming true, with fabulous food and a rich pedestal where she stands alone as queen. She works two jobs to make ends meet and save a little for her restaurant, and she has no love in her life.

This would be a great time to interrupt and say, “Hey! The value of Tiana’s life shouldn’t depend on a man!” And you’d be absolutely right. But when I say Tiana had no love in her life, I mean that in a much broader sense than simply romantically.

She has an absence of FRIENDSHIP—When Tiana declines an evening out, she hears a girl say “I told y’all she wasn’t gonna come.” Tiana doesn’t spend much time with her peers, and not just because she can’t dance. She’s too busy working.

Nor at WORK—Tiana’s dream is shot down nearly as soon as she speaks of it out loud. Her coworker (the cook) doesn’t respect her, nor does she expend much effort respecting him back.

There’s a little in her FAMILY—Tiana has her mom, but she’s also an only child. There’s no company. And, while she is affectionate with her mother, her restaurant overshadows any desires to have a family of her own.

And, obviously, she isn’t involved ROMANTICALLY—Tiana doesn’t have the slightest interest in Naveen for the first portion of the movie. That’s fine, but it is yet another area where Tiana is solely focused on what she is making, not the people she is making it for.

Fast forward to the climax. Dr. Facilier offers her everything. Her restaurant. Her father’s dream. But something’s missing—Naveen. Her mom isn’t there. None of her bayou friends. She is standing alone in that restaurant.

Here is where she gets it.

Like Paul suggested, the things Tiana wanted didn’t matter until she became motivated by love. Her dream would be empty without the people who mattered most. She turns Facilier down. And even though she’ll be trapped as a frog, she marries Naveen—which is the best part, by the way.

Swoosh, they’re human again, and when her dream comes true, everyone she loves stands right beside her.

Look at how that differs. Naveen minces and performs inside Tiana’s Palace. His parents and her mom sit at a table together, and one of her oldest friends, Lottie, dances happily with Naveen’s little brother. Louis is up there with the band. Tiana mingles with her guests.

Yeah, Tiana found love with Naveen, but she found love with practically everybody else in her community, too. And that faraway dream she once had—suddenly it started to matter.

Of course, we’re not limited to Disney movies in this matter. If you are a writer, or a feeder of ducks at the pond, a nanny, a McDonald’s employee, a teacher, a millionaire, a musician—a person who is alive: there are people in your life. If you’re like me, you have God in your life, too. Whatever your passion is, whatever it is you really want to do, it’s only going to get better by including the people who matter to you most.

Oh look, I’m not crazy after all. Happy Sunday!

What do you think? How do the people you love add meaning to your life?


  1. This is such an interesting post! I loved how you made that connection and explained it in such detail!:)
    I love your blog, off to reading more of your posts!
    I've followed you!!:)
    The Journeys' of my beating heart

    1. Thanks, I always love to write about connections likes these! They're hard to think of sometimes, of course, but I enjoy them no less for it.

      Thanks for the follow!


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