The Best Way
By Anthony Casperson
This time of year, there’s a movie that’ll undoubtedly be aired on at least one channel. As a matter of fact, because I can’t remember a year in my life when it’s not been on, I jokingly refer to it as a “Thanksgiving classic.” And trust me, I’ve seen it quite often in my life considering that it’s a favorite for my sister.
This film (if you haven’t guessed from the picture above) is the Wizard of Oz.
But even though I’ve seen it numerous times, a thought came to me this year about the cinematic classic. When we get to the end of the movie, it’s Glinda who tells Dorothy that she’s had the ability to get home covering her feet pretty much the whole time. Just click the heels and say, “There’s no place like home.”
Hang on a second, Bubbles. Are you telling me that the shoes, which you put on Dorothy have been able to do exactly what she’s wanted to do from the very beginning? Why all of this, “The Wizard might be able to help you” then? Huh? If there was an easier answer all along, why make her go through all of these extra (and hazardous) steps? Are sure you’re actually a good witch?
That’s when the thought hit me. One which many a story critic needs to learn as well. The easier way is not always the best way.
Think about it, if Glinda had just told Dorothy the trick about those shoes right away, how many more times would the young girl continue to sing about the place over the rainbow? Especially since her song at the beginning said she’d only heard of the place once in a lullaby, but now she’s glimpsed it for real. That place where skies are blue and the dreams which you dare to dream really do come true. Would she be willing to go back to her drab life in Kansas after only a handful of minutes in this place?
Dorothy wanted a place away from trouble, because she felt like no one was listening to her at home. But what she needed to remember was that trouble will find us wherever we go, however the care of loved ones goes a long way in helping us through the trouble.
And that’s something which the little girl from Kansas didn’t really understand until she was in her lowest moment in the witch’s tower, with a literal countdown to her execution beside her. Right then, Aunt Em appeared in the crystal ball. Dorothy saw the true extent of love while experiencing worse trouble than she ever imagined.
She wouldn’t have known how much better home really was without the adventure along the way.
And not only were the trials and tribulations helpful for Dorothy, but they were also good for almost everybody that she met along the way. Sure, the Munchkins would’ve been helped with the Wicked Witch of the East crushed by the house. But the Scarecrow would still be left hanging on the post, convinced that he was a worthless imbecile. Without someone to oil him, the Tin-man would’ve been left in his stasis position for who knows how long, forgetting even more of the greatness of love as the months passed. The Cowardly Lion would still be afraid of everything, putting on a brave (but lying) face day after day.
Those are just the main character differences. What about the flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch of the West’s guards (called Winkies)? They’d still be under the oppressive thumb of that green witch instead of having societal freedom. And the Wizard himself had been living a lie, scamming the people of Oz, because he thought himself a failure at life. Because of Dorothy’s presence, he was forced to face the truth and return home as well.
The easier way was the worse way not only for Dorothy, but also for person after person whom she met.
And that’s something that we should come to realize as well. Sure, it might be easier for God to perform some miracle and take away the difficulties of our life. But is it really the best way?
Is there something that we can learn in the trials and tribulations of this life to make us long for his loving presence instead of stories, fables, and lullabies? Something that we’d never even consider good and wonderful until we’ve felt the weight of the sand flowing through the hourglass.
Is there a purpose in the path through the Valley of Death-like Shadow that goes beyond us? What about other people along the way who can find their own answers as we adventure through the more difficult path with them? Those whose lives are better because we passed them on the yellow brick road.
I know the temptation to want the easy way. Just tell me to click my heels and say the magic code phrase. It seems so much better. But when compared to what the best can bring to us and others around us, we can witness the vibrant colors better along the path of extra (and dangerous) steps.
We don’t need to ask God how good he can really be for making us walk this difficult path. The easier way is not always the best way. And God only offers us the best.