Am I a Bergen or Troll?

Bergen…or Troll. Doesn’t sound like much of a choice, does it? This weekend I took my two Littles to see the new Troll movie while the Bigs went to an action flick; and to be completely honest, I’ve never in my life owned a Troll doll or even liked Troll anything. In fact, they always looked a little creepy to me. But the boys wanted to see it, they actually looked cute (kind of like rainbow Smurfs)…and Justin Timberlake is in it. Enough said. (Don’t worry, I won’t give too many spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet.)

Now, I don’t know how it is with your children when you go to the theater; but once my guys step foot inside the front doors, they act as if they are suddenly dying of hunger and thirst even if they just ate 5 minutes ago. It’s no longer enough that we spend a gas tank’s worth on movie tickets, they now expect to add a grocery bill in snacks to make the movie “extra special.” I’m convinced it’s a conspiracy, and theaters in fact pump mind altering drugs from their vents giving everyone inside the munchies. Mark.my.words.

Being the professional parents that we are not, they usually get away with a drink (to share), maybe some popcorn, and some candy (that may or may not be smuggled in at times…I will never tell). So drink and candy in hand, we find our seats just as the movie starts.

Just to give you a little background information without giving anything away, the Trolls are these adorable little creatures who are always happy, sing and dance about everything, poop cupcakes, and love to hug. (and I totally want one…or ten) On the other hand, the Bergens are large ugly creatures who hate life, need major dental work, and think the only way to find happiness is by eating a Troll. (sounds legit) Every year, the Bergens hold a festival in which they each eat a Troll, that has been captured and held captive, to find their moment of “true happiness;” and this particular year is the first time the Bergen King Gristle Jr. has been allowed to participate.

Now, if you really don’t want a spoiler, you may not want to read any further. However, this part of the story is important for where I am going with this. 

So here we are at the festival, as the young Gristle Jr. is preparing to eat his first Troll so that he can finally experience “true happiness;” and at this exact moment, Hayes hands me his Skittles bag to open whispering, “I can’t open this. Can you? Make sure you don’t drop them.” Famous last words.

I’m not even kidding when I say this….but it was like slow motion.

Gristle Jr. takes a bite of his highly anticipated first Troll only to discover he has been thwarted by the escaped Trolls just as I rip open the bag of Skittles sending every.last.one. of them flying into the air and all over the people around us.

It literally rained Skittles for at least five minutes; and just when we thought it was over, someone moved and sent yet more Skittles pinging across the floor.

The look on Hayes’ face mirrored that of Gristle Jr. Complete and utter horror.

Gristle Jr.: “How am I supposed to be happy NOW?!”

Hayes: “This movie is completely RUINED. I don’t even want to watch it now!”

And I’m sitting there thinking I just stepped into the Twilight Zone and wondering if there is enough room to climb under my seat. But then it hit me.

True happiness is not in people, things, or circumstances. We say we know this, right? But while it is hard for an 8-year-old to understand this truth, it is just as hard for us as adults to accept. We think that the work promotion, new car, bigger house, or designer handbag is going to make us happy. But the truth is, we only turn around and want something else…something bigger, something better. It’s never enough, and we end up forever chasing happiness just like the ugly Bergens…only with better teeth. Bottom line is that true happiness isn’t in something tangible. It is found in Jesus and only in Him can we truly be content. 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13 NIV

So instead of climbing under my seat (I know you wondered what happened with that), I turned to Hayes as he sat pouting and whispered, “Are you a Bergen or a Troll?”

Blank stare (but he was listening)

“Are you a Bergen who thinks the only thing that will make you happy right now is a bag of Skittles? Or are you a Troll who will be disappointed…but will still enjoy the really cute movie we are watching?”

Bingo. Light bulb. And the fact that I even suggested he was remotely close to the ugly Bergens was enough to make him sit a little taller and re-engage with the movie before us.

The fact of the matter is, this little lesson ended up being more for me than it was for him. Yes, it helped him put things into perspective. Yes, I plan to use the Bergen/Troll analogy again for other seemingly catastrophic events (of which he has many). But even more importantly, it made me ask myself the hard questions. What is true happiness to me? and Am I a Bergen or a Troll?

Oh and by the way, for those of you worried about the poor kid’s Skittles…yes, I did suck it up and go buy him a bag of ridiculously over-priced candy from the concession stand…and yes, I did leave a trail of Skittles along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

When Mornings Suck.

This may be a given in your home…or you may not be human or have other humans living with you. But mornings at our place tend to suck. It’s an area we are constantly trying to improve, usually taking two steps back and one step forward. However, I don’t like sending my guys off for their day after World Wars 1, 2, AND 3 have been fought…and often lost; so we always try to redeem the suckage at some point before their feet hit school property.

Take this morning, for instance. My 7-year-old handed me a pair of dirty pants to iron (yes, I know…I should have ironed the night before. Like I said, “work in progress.”). And we are not talking about pants that can be snatched from the dirty clothes basket and brushed off for yet another wear. Believe me, I tried.

And apparently, he had no “tan” pants that were clean…but he had plenty of clean black and blue pants. Problem solved, right? Nope. Somewhere along the way, this child acquired an aversion to “colored” pants (please, don’t get me started). No.Worries. It’s going to be warm enough for shorts today. WRONG. He couldn’t bear the thought of wearing shorts when it is clearly fall and therefore pant weather! What.was.I.thinking.

So there were tears. LOTS of tears….and there was yelling. LOTS of yelling. And at one point, I thought, “We aren’t going anywhere today. My husband is going to come home and find us both passed out from all the tears and all the yelling.”

Finally, after a phone call to daddy and numerous empty threats (we are talking early bedtimes until he graduates college), I stopped and realized I was acting like a crazed lunatic. Seriously, people. Maury Povich would want me for his show.

Why do I let this happen? Why do I take the bait – hook, line, and sinker? The more angry I become, the more stubborn and emotional the child; but I do it all.the.time.

Hey friend, Satan knows our weaknesses. He knows our triggers. He knows I’m tired and stressed, and he knew that this morning’s fashion wars would send me straight into orbit.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10a

When I finally took a moment and recognized this spiritual attack for what it was, I did what I should have done in the beginning. I prayed. First by myself and then with my son.

Why is prayer so often our last resort? Satan cannot steal our joy if we do not let him.

And after we prayed, I apologized to Hayes for acting the way I did. Satan would love nothing more than to use my poor behavior as a stumbling block to my children; but what Satan means for evil, God uses for goodwhen we let Him.

“…MY purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:10b

I would love to say that the rest of the morning was all Care Bears and rainbows…but then that wouldn’t be real life, now would it. The point is…from that point on, I didn’t let Satan steal my joy. Not even when the darling child refused to get out of the car. Not even when he said walking in late to class by himself was “weird” but didn’t want me to go with him either. Not even though it was HIS fault we were late in the first place. Not.Even.Then. BLESS.