Disneyland, lines, and lessons in effort

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For many families, visiting a Disney park at least once is some kind of rite of passage. A necessity if you’re going to call yourself a good parent, at least. I spent my teenaged years living only an hour from Disney World, and thanks to my parents’ generosity, I enjoyed the perks of Florida residency and the annual Disney pass. We spent many a happy day leisurely roaming Orlando – a privilege I valued at the time, but relish even more decades later.

The trick was to go when the tourists weren’t there in droves, which pretty much eliminated May through August. Not that we minded tourists. Their vacation energy was invigorating and their contributions toward our state economy was much appreciated, but no one goes to Disney to stand in line for hours. We were too clever to waste a day sweating in 90% humidity, dreaming of riding rides. Most of our Disney adventures were in February and October, or on bonus holidays like Martin Luther King Day or Good Friday.

But how soon I forgot the clever tricks…

We took our kids to Disney in July. Mistake number 1. We also chose Disneyland over Disney World. Mistake number 2. Now I will say, July in California is far less sticky than July in Florida, and even though Land held only a fraction of the splendor of World, it also required only a fraction of the walking, so we easily tackled the whole park in a day. Lucky mistakes.

Tickets for 6 cost a fair chunk of change, similar to the cost of a minor medical procedure or a new appliance, but sometimes as a parent you spend this amount when you are convinced your children will soak up every dollar’s worth of thrill. My second oldest (also my most opinionated and most particular child) was only 7. We weren’t 20 minutes into our first line for the day before she turned to me, looked me square in the eye, and asked very matter of factly, “So is this all we do here? Wait in line?” She was dazzled already. Money well spent, just as I had hoped.

I probably laughed out loud. Every other grade-school kid in the park that day was convinced they were living the dream, but my daughter was jaded before the first ride. And she was thirsty. And hot. The adventure was off to a stormy start.

Experiences and memories are shaped by perspective and attitude,  meaning my daughter was headed into less than enjoyable day. Focusing on the negative would surely subtract from her moments of actual excitement. We wouldn’t be in line all day, but from her standpoint, if experiencing the rides and attractions required the effort of waiting in line, maybe we should have just stayed home.

We tend to think this way, don’t we? Is the effort we’re putting toward living a satisfying life really worth it? If entertaining guests means cleaning the house and cooking a meal, then maybe I’d rather sit alone in my messy house and eat ramen. If having my finances in order means I have to cut my spending and budget every dollar, maybe I’m okay with credit card debt. If writing a blog takes so much time and makes me nervous with every post, maybe I should have never given it a shot. (Hey, sometimes you have to be transparent. Confessions are healing.) Maybe a fulfilling life really can be lived on the couch doing nothing, because easier is better…right?

During times of woe and self pity, I run to Jesus. I take another good, long look at His life and His spotless character. His life was marked by tireless effort – healing, praying, teaching, showing compassion (all day, every day). He quietly stood trial and endured crucifixion. He conquered death and worked some more. Was it worth it? Jesus had a different perspective. Fulfilling the work of His Father would offer us a fulfilling life – both here and forever. Were His efforts worth your salvation? You tell me. Better yet, tell Him.

Then tell everyone.

It’s worth it, I promise.



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