Growing up, I got so sick of the Hayley Mills’ Pollyanna movie.
Even though Hayley Mills was my favorite actress (Tied with Shirley Temple!), I got way too much of Disney’s Pollyanna, as my younger sister was obsessed with the movie. When it was our week to do the family’s laundry, it was also our week to pick the movie the kids watched while we folded the clothes. There were four of us, so, once a month, on the dot, my sister frequently chose Pollyanna.
Whatever lessons that could be gained from it were lost on me after the forty-fifth time. (I kid, I kid… maybe. 😛 )
I mean, the movie is an ESFJ‘s (my personality type) deepest wish come true. ESFJ girl walks around just loving everyone and spreading cheer and happiness to everyone, and, when she has her first real trial, the entire town shows up to thank her and tell her how she blessed them. Could it get any better for an ESFJ?!
Unfortunately, real life is rarely like this. You can spend your whole life loving people, and maybe one percent cares when you suffer yourself. A good fifty percent may never say thank you for all the care you show. It’s why we shouldn’t ever do things for the humanly recognition! 😉
I remember, one day, when my sister had picked it for the umpteenth time, to groans from my two younger brothers and myself, my dad said, “Hey, guys! This is a good movie!” and actually sat down with us to watch the whole thing. My dad was not one to love kids movies, but he laughed at all the funny parts, exclaimed at all the sad parts, and sat riveted. I’ve never enjoyed the movie more than that day, and it taught me how much a parent can influence their child’s attitude.
Now, looking back on it, I’m not sure all of my dad’s reasons were noble. I think he was a serious Hayley Mills fan, back in the day. That, or the two of them were secret twins. 😀
You see it, don’t you? 😀
Speaking of dads, though, let’s talk about the unseen character who is really the hero of this beloved story.
I sat down and watched this movie with my little girls this week because we had just finished reading an abridged version of the book. (The sequel is way better than the first, by the way. Pollyanna Grows Up is a hidden gem for a slightly more mature audience.)
But, for the first time, watching this as a parent, I thought about Pollyanna’s poor dad. Hated by his wife’s relatives, a missionary off in a remote country, barely making any money, living on charity where he couldn’t even afford to buy his daughter clothes and a doll… yet happily doing God’s work.
And he was the originator, teacher, and guide for every good thought Pollyanna shared with Harrington Town.
Everything that Pollyanna was and is – everything she did in that town – originated from her dad. He searched the Scriptures for things about God’s love, grace, and joy to bring hope to his congregation. He learned how to bring out good character in people and encourage them on toward love and good deeds. He never complained, but taught his daughter to be thankful in all things.
He may have died young, and, for all we know, never saw fruit in his ministry – single parenting alone – but his daughter, taking what he taught her, went on to bless multitudes of people. His ministry continued.
As a parent, this would give me no greater joy.
Parents, as you do God’s work, day in and day out, saving money for kids’ college funds – instead of buying fun things for yourselves, changing poopy diapers, trying to do devotions with squirmy, disinterested toddlers, taking your children faithfully to church and chatting with them on the drive home, praying before bedtime, and living your life feeling perhaps small, tired, and weak – just be faithful. Know that you are raising future Pollyannas, future Billy Grahams, future John Wesleys, and Martin Luthers.
Your work is amazing. You may not be in the spotlight for it, but you are the unseen hero of all of your children’s stories. May they rise up and call you blessed.