Do you remember the Disney movie “The Little Mermaid”? Ariel trades her life in the sea to pursue a human she has fallen in love with. But like every good story, it doesn’t come easy. In fact, Ariel almost loses the love of her life to another woman. But when all is said and done, it all works out and they both live happily ever after.
Of course they do.
But did you know that in the original fairytale, written by Hans Christian Andersen, this was not the case? In his story, The Little Mermaid does lose the love of her life to another woman. She actually carries the train of the other woman’s bridal gown…and stands by while she marries her prince.
And it gets worse…
She is now destined to die because she couldn’t find love. But there’s a twist! She can be saved…if she’ll only slay her love with a magic knife. But The Little Mermaid can’t bring herself to kill the man she loves, so she casts herself into the sea to her death.
Well I guess we can see why Disney took the liberty to change the ending a bit! I don’t think this version would go over too well.
While I understand the revision, a part of me wonders if we are becoming too accustomed to the idea of “happily ever after”…so much so that we are often unable or unwilling to even engage with the idea of losing our life for someone else’s happiness instead of our own.
I don’t know about you, but I set out for marriage with a Disney version in mind. I got married for the happy ending, not to go into the business of losing my life and all that craziness. But you know what I eventually learned?
God didn’t invent marriage to make us happy.
I know that’s a kick in the gut. But it’s true. Everything God has created is purposed to reveal His glory, and marriage is no exception. It’s a beautiful display of God’s covenant with His people. We make vows that we will never leave or forsake one another, because this is the Truth God wants to speak to us.
In this instance, I think Andersen’s version hits the mark a little better. After all, Jesus said it himself more than 1800 years before this tale was ever written:
“Greater love has no man than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friend”.
Are we setting out in marriage with this goal in mind? To lose our lives for the sake of our spouse? Most of us can love pretty well if the right conditions are met. But are we prepared to love when it costs us everything? Even our own ideas of a happy ending? I actually think being unhappy is a fate worse than death for many of us, and the instinct for survival is powerful. In a life and death decision, it is only Love that can bear the weight of the right choice.
This kind of love is tough, and we need God’s help to do it correctly. But there’s a twist to this story too!
Jesus tells us to sacrifice ourselves for others and ultimately for Him. That’s what marriage is truly all about. But He also makes us this stunning promise:
“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it”.
Truth is, we will never go wrong when we love others for the sake of the Gospel. And that makes for a very, very happy ever after.
Nicole is a wife and stay-at-home mom to three energetic children in Lake Villa, IL. In addition to writing, she enjoys serving as the Care Team Leader for her church's MOPS group and is also a part of the Sunday worship team. Other interests include performing Improv, venturing outdoors...and pretending to be a chef, thanks to the Food Network. Nicole has a heart for "getting real" with other women and helping them discover Jesus through honesty, empathy, and the power of "me too". Connect with her at MotherhoodConfessions.com