I had never seen Sleeping Beauty. Crazy, I know. I think the only Disney princess movie I saw as a kid was Cinderella, which I LOVED.
So when Maleficent made it’s debut, I had no idea what it was about, and frankly, the previews looked terrifying (Angelina Jolie scares me). But then I heard it was good, from a reputable source, my sister Monica.
The original Sleeping Beauty was shown on television, so I DVRed it and watched it one afternoon, which I figured was necessary to fully understand Maleficent. Good stuff.
Monica said that once I hear Maleficent’s backstory, I’m going to feel bad for her and see what a jerk the prince is. I had my doubts, but I was ready to watch it.
In case anyone reading this hasn’t seen either one, here is a quick summary of the two:
*In Sleeping Beauty, the King and Queen have a baby, Princess Aurora. Maleficent bursts in on the scene shortly after and curses Aurora with death if she pricks her finger by a spinning wheel before her 16th birthday. Three quirky fairy godmothers take care of her in a cottage right up until her birthday, when she gets out too early and indeed pricks her finger, causing a deep sleep (thanks to one of the fairies making a slight change in the spell). The prince comes and she is saved to live happily ever after.
*In Maleficent, (spoiler alert) the movie starts out with Maleficent herself as a young girl who gets loved, then forgotten about, then de-winged, by Prince Stefan, who becomes king and fathers Princess Aurora with his wife, the queen. Maleficent is hurt and bitter, and annoyed by the baby at first when she decides to stalk it, but then protects and grows to love her over time. Alas, it is her motherly kiss that actually awakens Sleeping Beauty.
Monica was right. Despite my fear of Angelina Jolie and my extreme dislike of changing the original story (Like, who was Peter Parker’s girlfriend, MJ or Gwen? How can you mess with me like that Spiderman??), I became fond of Maleficent and wanted good for her.
Because I knew her backstory.
When you hear of what someone has been through, you begin to understand and empathize with them. While what they have done might be freakishly awful, harmful, or involve deadly spinning wheels, when you get to know them and their story, they become real. You suddenly can’t help but want better things for them. You also start to see that just maybe, if given their exact circumstances, you might be tempted to do things you never thought you would.
And believe me, everyone has a backstory.
Whatever terrible thing they have done is not excused, but you suddenly want redemption for them, whereas before you might have wanted them to get their comeuppance.
The Bible says over and over that we aren’t to judge each other. Not our job. What the Bible does say about someone who is knee deep in sin is this – “…you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” (Galations 6:1, emphasis added). Gently, lovingly. Not because we are better than that, but because we want better for them. There is enough of God’s grace to go around and we don’t want anyone to miss it.
We are all in this life together, dear friend. And without the mercy of God, we all deserve our punishments. But God is faithful and forgiving, and He is who we need to reflect to everyone around us.
So get to know the people, forgive them, love them. And thank God for the grace we each receive if we just accept it.
“Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (NIV) James 2:13b
*Maybe I need to learn Angelina Jolie’s backstory…*