Nora has recently been watching a lot of My Little Pony. My understanding of the show is that there is this group of pony friends, each with unique personalities, skills, and roles, that live in Equestria and work together to fight off whatever threatens the magic of friendship. Well, and then at some point, they turn into high school girls who do some sort of academic bowl together and then later form a band for The Battle of the Bands.
The songs are actually pretty good and I can’t deny that we’ve been singing them around the house and even trying to learn them on guitar. Actually, this perfectly supports my encouragement to Nora that being in a band would be super cool (besides My Little Pony, this is also supported by Nora’s book, Ghost Spider, which mentions that in her spiderverse, Gwen Stacy drums for The Mary Janes).
One of the songs we heard yesterday had lyrics along the lines of “I don’t know what will happen, but I know it will be perfect.”
Nora was actually very interested in this idea and brought it up at dinner and then again this morning. How could a pony have such certainty? How could they know that? But she’s completely correct to wonder such a thing, and I’m sure we all wonder the same thing when faced with crisis.
This is actually what makes suspense so terrifying for Nora. “Plot armor” isn’t a thing. When Ursula steals Ariel’s voice and later takes King Triton’s trident to rule both land and sea, all hope really is lost! Despair really is the only reasonable emotion to feel, and you might as well just turn the TV off (we didn’t actually do that with the Little Mermaid, but we turned off a lot of other shows the moment things started going bad).
My first thought was to question the idea of the future being perfect as some sort of ungrounded, fatalistic, and unrealistic belief. Because I think, if we’re honest, things aren’t perfect. Our plans, our relationships, our bodies all fall apart, and things don’t play out the way that we feel they should. Things are hard. Right now, I feel this a lot. I never achieved my running goals and I am not sure I’ll ever run as fast as I once did. As fulfilling as my last job had been, I’m still struck with frustration over how little I accomplished over the course of 5 years on a single problem space. My parents and in-laws and friends’ parents are getting older and having problems with their bodies and minds. Parenting takes a lot out of me, and I can’t often see past this fog to see how it plays out, if I even made a difference. So things aren’t perfect, and it’s pretty radical to believe that they will be some day.
My second thought was to assert that we can make this work if we take an infinite time horizon and believe that God is both good and in control. So we can have that level of confidence. God is the one who is orchestrating this story and we are caught in the middle of the tension and suspense. But this whole world, along with each of us individually, is progressing in the story. We’re all going through character development, and when we reach the end of the story, God will make things perfect because we - and the world itself - will be exactly who we were created to be.
But, trying to be clever, the approach I actually went with was to suggest that the ponies had that sort of confidence in the uncertain future because they were so secure in the magic of friendship.
It didn’t take long for Nora to counter with the time that the ponies (well, they had become high school girls) weren’t always good friends. When they were competing in Battle of the Bands against another band that got power from others’ arguments and fighting, their disagreements over whose band it was and what to play and what to wear grew into perpetual conflict (probably not dissimilar to a typical band). Rainbow Dash wanted the band to be all about her and her awesome electric guitar solos. Rarity wanted the band to be all about her lavish costumes. And so their friendship was near its breaking point, and thanks only to a last second speech by Sunset Shimmer, they got the band back together, defeating The Dazzlings and saving Equestria.
Fortunately, Nora’s right! What we see in My Little Pony are just shadows and shimmers of the magic of friendship - how friends can be both deeply committed to each other while staying true to themselves, maintaining a unity within diversity. But the ponies aren’t perfect, and they often put themselves individually before each other and lose trust in each other.
What we need is a perfect friendship. We need someone deeply committed to us - deeply committed even when we are not. Someone who brings out the best in us while preserving what makes us uniquely us.
I follow Jesus because I have found this confidence and friendship in God, through Jesus. Because God is the one who is in control, and because Jesus is the one who sticks by my side and picks me up no matter what, even to great detriment to himself, even when I can’t repay it, and even when I fail to recognize it. Jesus himself uses the rhetoric of friendship when arguing for the resurrection of the dead - if God calls Abraham a friend, and says that He is Abraham’s God, how could God be the God of the dead when He could resurrect him to life?
So I do actually believe that I don’t know what the future holds - but I know it’ll be perfect. And who knows? I hope Nora will one day have that confidence too, and you could too.