“And they all lived happily ever after.” We’ve heard these word as children, when our parents would read us our favorited story for the umpteenth time. We’ve heard these words as parents, as we’ve read our own child’s favorite story for the umpteenth time.
“Happily ever after” are the words that bring closure to the story. They are the words that resolve the dissonant chords of the story. They are the words that say, “Everything’s alright now.” They are the words we all look for. They are the words we all long for.
But “happily ever after” can feel very elusive. The difficulties and disappointments of life have a way of sucking the “happily ever after” right out of life. What were once great words to hear as a kid can easily become words that make you recoil in cynicism as an adult.
There are three things you need to remember about “happily ever after.”
- The words “happily ever after” are positional. They are dependent on which side of the story you find yourself. If you’re Cinderella, the story ends “happily ever after,” but if you’re the step sisters…not so much. If you’re Dorothy, the story ends “happily ever after,” but if your the witch…not so much.
- The words “happily ever after” are conclusional. “Happily ever after” never comes in the middle of the story. In fact, it’s in the middle of the story where you usually find the most trouble and hardship. It’s in the middle of the story that Cinderella is denied access to the ball. It’s in the middle of the story that Dorothy is chased by the witch, disappointed in the wizard, and captured by flying monkeys. Too many people want their “happily ever after” in the middle of their story, but “happily ever after comes at the end.
- The words “happily ever after” are personal. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” “Happily ever after” depends on your expectations. Some people get to “happily ever after” and never know it…because it doesn’t look like they imagined.
So is it really possible to live life “happily ever after” or is that just an unrealistic idea written into children’s stories to leave them feeling good?
Though everyone will face hardships and disappointments, I still believe it’s possible to live “happily ever after.” We’ve all know people who, despite their difficulties, live “happily ever after” lives. What’s different about them?
- They are people who are on the right side of the story. “What’s the right side of the story?” Let me ask you a question…when you first heard the story of Cinderella or the Wizard of Oz, did someone have to explain to you who was on the right side of the story and who was on the wrong side of the story? Didn’t you know this instinctively? Isn’t there something inside of you that tells you what you should and shouldn’t be doing. Isn’t there something inside of you calls you to be different; that calls you to be better? This is a call to be on the right side of the story.
- They are people who stay on the right side of the story all the way to the end. It’s not enough to be leading at half-time. What’s important is that you’re still leading at the final buzzer. People who live happily ever after persevere to the final buzzer. They don’t give up on doing what’s right, they don’t turn when things get tough. They keep giving their best all the way to the end. Remember, “happily ever after” comes at the end of the story.
- They are people who pay more attention to what they have then what they don’t. Sophocles said “Look and you will find it – what is unsought will go undetected.” If you look for disappointment, you’ll find it. If you look for contentment, you’ll find it. Jesus said, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” (Matt. 6:21 NLT) Your life will follow whatever you pay attention to, so pay attention to what you have more than what you don’t.
“Happily ever after” is not just an unrealistic platitude to be tacked onto the end of children stories. It’s something our hearts long for. And although it’s not a quick fix, it is still possible for your story to end “happily ever after.”
On another level…
If you’re a Christian, you know there are many “happily ever after” points in Scripture. When you’re caught in the dark and difficult middle of your story, remember these “happily ever after” assurances:
Do you think “happily ever after” is possible? What would it look like to you? What do you think is most important to a “happily ever after” life? Leave a comment and weigh in.
Copyright © 2015 Bret Legg