October 28, 2023
Isaiah 40:28, English Standard Version
“Have you not known? Have you not heard…”
What The Little Mermaid Taught Me Part One
It was halfway through the previews when my childhood best friend Amanda and I stumbled through the dark theater, leaving a trail of spilled popcorn, tipsy off laughs and shared margarita flights. We were meeting our sisters and moms on the opening night of the live-action depiction of Disney’s The Little Mermaid.
The cartoon version of the movie was like the “b-roll” of our childhood. We grew up watching it over and over (and over!) again, fighting over who loved it most. My sister reminded me that we were so into it, that I called my mom Ursula as an insult when I was really T-ed off.
Watching the movie with the OG crew was both nostalgic and sobering. We have all lived a lot of life since those carefree days as kids. As I reflected on our viewing, an interesting analogy framed my perspective as some lyrics from Ursula’s song played over and over in my mind.
In the story, Ariel longed for Eric and to be a “part of his world.” Feeling discontent as a sea creature, Ariel’s heart was captivated by anything human-related. This fascination grew as King Tritan– her larger-than-life father– tightened his grip on her, fear causing him to despise the world she longed for.
The power to fulfill Ariel’s longing was well-within King Tritan’s grasp, but because of the disconnection in his relationship with Ariel, the thought of pulling him in to help her fulfill this longing wasn’t conceivable.
Out of desperation and spite, Ariel turned to dark magic.
Ursula promised to fulfill Ariel’s desperate desire by making her a human under strict conditions and for a steep price.
Ursula wanted Ariel’s voice. Blinded by desire, Ariel made the trade, not knowing the price she’d paid.
Ariel didn’t know the value of her voice. To Eric, it was her identifying factor. Without her voice, convincing Eric that she was the woman who saved his life, the woman he fell in love with at first sight, and the woman he was turning his island upside down looking for, was next to impossible.
By giving away her voice, she unknowingly gave away the very part of herself that set her apart and tethered his heart to hers.
This is the theme that’s haunted me– in the best way–since watching this familiar story unfold with a perspective now framed by wisdom and life experience.
The lyrics from Ursula’s song, “It won’t cost much, just your voice,” bounced back and forth in my head for weeks.
I love when God uses the secular to speak something sacred to my earth-worn soul. Usually when I can’t shake something seemingly silly like a random line from a song, I need to sit with it and see what divine message God tucked away inside.
As I considered these lyrics, I thought about how similar Ariel’s plight is to mine.
Please come back next week to read What The Little Mermaid Taught Me Part Two.