If Walt Disney Was A Therapist

I just finished watching “Saving Mr. Banks” – a story about the making of Mary Poppins with more depth and context than I ever could have imagined. If you have seen the movie, you’ll know that the writer of Mary Poppins, PL Travers, experienced a great deal of family trauma. The film does not shy away from mental and behavioral health issues: alcoholism, depression, generational trauma, ADHD (did you know that Walt Disney had ADHD?), etc. PL Travers was writing the story of her childhood in Mary Poppins, probably an avenue for healing.

There’s a point in the film when Disney is reassuring Travers that he will take good care of her story. He says this:

“That’s what we storytellers do: we restore order with imagination.”

What do you think of that?

If Walt Disney was a therapist, he would likely be one that uses Narrative Therapy to help “restore order” or peace, or meaning to one’s story. Often times, going to therapy/counseling involves reflection on childhood and telling stories of events and relationships that have shaped your beliefs about life. You might create a genogram, which helps you identify patterns in your family tree. Walt Disney was not wrong. Re-telling the story of your life, maybe in a different way, helps restore order to the story.

I’ll go a step further. Let’s look at Scripture. It is full of stories of self-doubt, turned triumph (Moses); abandonment and rejection turned restoration and glory (Joseph), sin and weakness turned repentance and strength (David), invisible and purposeless turned seen and valued (the Samaritan woman),  a fallen people turned saved (Jesus).  God is the author of our lives and our stories, and He wants to turn the ugly, painful parts of our story into glory to reflect His nature. Our imagination is a gift from above that helps us create joy, manage emotion, and create hope. We have the privilege of co-authoring our stories with our masterful God.

So if Walt Disney were a therapist, he may encourage you to think about the pain in your story, but also to find the places where God has been present or find what He has redeemed.

The beauty of every story is that we know how it ends. Jesus completed every story on the Cross. Every story in our lives ends with the finished work of grace, so until then, we can work on seeing how the details of our stories intertwine with the story of God.  When you use your imagination, prayer, and co-authorship with God to bring order to your story, you create a witness and a testimony. Consider these verses:

Luke 8:39 -“Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.

2 Timothy 1:8-9 – “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began…”

This week, take some time and meditate on the ways that God is writing your story. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you imagination to see purpose in the part of your story that may not be obvious.  Happy storytelling!

-Mary