My favourite Disney character has always been Donald Duck. I think I can relate to him a bit. He always has good intentions but the worst happens to him! And sadly his cartoons never have a happy ending for him either. His cartoons typically show him doing something good like washing windows or bringing flowers to his love Daisy. Donald’s chipper attitude shows as he goes about his business… But before he realises, Chip and Dale, those pesky chipmunks, are trying to derail his good deeds. This sets Donald alight with frustration. He’s persistent and keeps at his task, trying over and over to get it done while Chip and Dale continue their shenanigans. But, as I said, things still don’t turn out for him well at the end and Chip and Dale always get off for their mischief.
Who’s got the sweetest disposition? One guess — guess who! Who’d never, ever start an argument? Who never shows a bit of temperament? Who’s never wrong but always right? Who’d never dream of starting a fight? Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one… but Donald Duck! (Listen to the theme song here.)
So what can we take from this? I think Donald speaks to the reality of our brokenness and human reality in general.
Human reality, from a duck? Face it. Donald does some pretty human things. Frustration, error, and Murphy’s Law is as much a part of his life as it is of ours. One morning nothing seemed to be going right for me. The shower water suddenly got too hot and I nearly burned myself, I spilled my cup of orange juice all over the kitchen floor, and I nearly spilled coffee on myself. Then that evening I spent ten minutes trying to swat a pesky black fly in my room. I was just having one of those Donald Duck days…
Sometimes things just happen and this is where the Serenity Prayer comes in handy:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
At home or at work—or anytime in life there are thousands of things that lie beyond our control. It’s our choice to not be bothered by it. Eckhart Tolle speaks of a monk whose line was “Is that so?” Whether “positive” or “negative” things happened he just accepted it. Why? Because it was outside his control.
We humans are like Donald in that we don’t always live up to our best intentions. Donald lets his frustration and anger get the best of him. Literally, the “best” of him—his chipper disposition and positive intentions—get snatched away by a building impatience. This is his brokenness. We share in this when we allow feelings like impatience or frustration control our actions. Donald needs to realise that those feelings he feels are simply reactions to his “bad luck”. He should take comfort in knowing that his misfortune doesn’t change his good intention.
And that’s where we can find God. It’s easy to see misfortune as an unfair action of God. But God’s not about causing bad luck or freeing up parking spaces for you. Instead, God exists inside those good things within you: the good intention, the self control, the desire to do good, to love another. Within that impatient duck is a heart that loves his Daisy, that wants to live an honest profession, and care for others. This is where God exists, in those things we can create and change, and in the goodness we always have inside.
Listen to an audio version of this post…
Music by Kevin MacLeod