Monday, April 19, 2010

Tame a Dragon

I finally saw How to Train Your Dragon last week and was pleasantly surprised. I expected a typical kids’ movie—sweet story, fun characters that would also inspire creative Happy Meal toys, great animation, and enough potty humor to make me groan, “Why do they always have to ruin movies? Now, Mom, my sisters, and I will spend the rest of the afternoon correcting the kids, when they start repeating all the butt jokes.”

Instead, I got caught up in the exciting plot, lovable characters, toilet-talk-free humor, and an unexpected messaged about the power of kindness.

In case you haven’t seen the movie yet, I won’t give too much away, other than that the main character, Hiccup, does not seem to have what it takes to be a Viking/Dragon killer. In a village that lives in fear of fire-breathing dragons, he is an embarrassment to his father and a joke among his friends. Hiccup is determined to prove himself by killing his first dragon. When he gets his chance, it becomes clear that he has a much more impressive gift than the ability to run a dragon through with his sword. He spends over half of the storyline trying to hide the evidence. A kind gentle spirit might come in handy when befriending one dragon, but it’ll only make life worse at home and among his fellow Vikings-in-training.

I really related to Hiccup. I have never been bold and was often criticized while growing up for being “too nice.” As an adult some friends called me “too sensitive.” I hated it! Why couldn’t I toughen up? But just as Hiccup discovered the strength that lurked behind his supposed weakness, God continues to teach me that being nice—even too nice—is hardly something to be ashamed of.

Proverbs 15:1 says, “A gentle answer turns away rage, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” I have found this to be true many times. When has anger helped solve a conflict? Then again, when have I seen kindness trigger surprising results? When have I been tempted to say “what needs to be said,” only to receive a nudge from God to back off and see Him use my willingness to be kind for good?

Today, I think I'll see what happens if I try taming life’s dragon’s through a gentle approach instead of slaying them. Obviously this doesn’t mean letting people walk all over me or putting up with abuse. But what might happen if I refuse to respond to criticism with a harsh comeback, speak calmly when I'm tempted to snap, or do something nice for someone who hasn’t been so nice to me?

Amazing what a kids' movie can inspire.


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