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The new Cinderella movie has already made a splash, with opening box office sales of over $70 million. This classic tale has stood the test of time and each movie re-make draws big crowds of women. My mother, daughter, son and I arrived to see the movie to find that we were not the only multi-generational family in attendance. The film was drawing in women of all ages hoping to get a glimpse of a fresh take on a tale so loved.

The movie had all the usual elements: Cinderella, the mean step-mother and step-sisters, the handsome prince, a fairy godmother, a few mice, a great big pumpkin, and a fancy glass slipper. What has seemed to catch audiences’ attention is the advice Cinderella’s mother gives on her deathbed. “Have courage and be kind.” This theme plays out in the movie and is the very thing that makes Cinderella so enchanting and beautiful.

It is the perfect message of encouragement in these times when kindness doesn’t seem to be an automatic expectation for human relationships. It is easy to be mean, and many people take the easy way out. Being kind takes more effort, humility, thought, and at times great sacrifice.

“Have courage, and be kind” reminds me of the words found written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s home for children in Calcutta. They were based on a work of writing originally published by Kent Keith.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. 
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. 
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. 
Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. 
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. 
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. 
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. 
It was never between you and them anyway.

These words seem to be the essence of what we love about Cinderella. Despite the way she is treated, she loves anyway. Despite the attempts by her stepmother and stepsisters to ruin her joy, she continues to find joy anyway. Her best is never good enough, but she gives it anyway.

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This is a story about having the courage to overcome obstacles while still maintaining a true sense of self, innocence, and goodness within, without letting the darkness build walls within the heart. I believe what has stood the test of time in the story of Cinderella, and why it continues to attract audiences, is the idea that kindness conquers meanness and good wins out over evil. And, to go even deeper, maybe what speaks to the hearts of attendees is that there is an invitation waiting for all of us: inviting us to be authentically who we are called to be— beautiful examples of heroism, love, and kindness.

Cinderella teaches us to have courage and be kind.  We shouldn’t do those things for the purpose of having people notice us, but rather because those are the things that make our humanity beautiful. Those are the things that draw people into goodness. At the end of the movie, we learn that the greatest risk is “to be seen as we truly are,” and Cinderella asks the handsome prince who has gone door to door in search for her, “Will you take me as I am?”

His answer, of course, is “yes” as he takes her as his wife. Although she is a commoner, there is nothing common about her. Her courage and kindness make her fit to be a princess.

Like Cinderella, we too can impact generations to come as we let the world be drawn into goodness through our courage and kindness. Doing so may cause us pain, we aren’t guaranteed the prince, and no one may even notice our generous actions, but like the poem written on Mother Teresa’s wall said, “In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”

We may never get back what we give in goodness, but let us have courage and be kind—anyway!

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Melanie has spoken nationwide to thousands of people at many churches, schools and organizations about modesty, chastity, dignity of life issues, and marriage.  She has a Master’s Degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction and is the Founder of Vera Bella Catholic Girls’ Formation Program and the Executive Director of the Foundation for Life and Love. She is the author of, The Day I Died, a book about her survival after suffering an amniotic fluid embolism. To help people send positive messages with their clothing, in 2002 she created a clothing line called “Refuge Clothing Co.” which has now dissolved into Shop Vera Bell.