Ah, Willy Wonka, you are such a unique and quirky piece of inspiration. As a child of the ’80s, I am partial to the original film starring Gene Wilder (no offense to the modern rendering with Mr. Depp). That said, the other night I finally took the opportunity to watch this cult classic with my children. It was whimsical and silly and weird and magical. I loved all the parts I always loved and fast-forwarded through the creepy boat scene like I always did. The entire film was (mostly) delightful as always.
It warms me to watch young Charlie Bucket live with such a generous heart in the midst of having so little to give. Even if that child never found a golden ticket, his love for his family and the very patient way he waits for provision would have been a lesson all its own. But, as we know, Charlie does find a ticket. The last golden ticket. And with that, he becomes one of the lucky few to gain access to Mr. Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory.
As I watched the film with my children, I relished in the example Charlie sets. He is the character I want to be. Charlie is patient and kind, always present in the moment and hopeful, no matter how difficult a situation may seem. His integrity is intact and his heart is pure save one small indulgence with the fizzy lifting drinks, from which he quickly learns and moves on. Yes, Charlie, I want to be like you.
Instead, I kept thinking, sometimes I act like Veruca Salt.
Ugh. You know her. This child was somehow perfectly cast to play the most entitled, whiny, bratty pre-teen of all time. She is a master of manipulating her parents to give her whatever-she-wants-whenever-she-wants. She has zero patience to let life come to her, instead grabbing at it frantically with self-driven motives. She regularly forgets what she has been given, consistently acting out of impatience and a lack of gratitude. And I really, really did not like how much I resonated with her.
This connection with Veruca’s character hopefully isn’t that obvious in our daily lives. Clearly, we do not demand that people buy us geese that lay golden eggs (although that would be cool!) nor do we manipulate people to do our bidding by unwrapping thousands of chocolate bars. No, Veruca usually doesn’t show up in these outward, dramatic demonstrations. However, she can show up in our faith.
“Arghh! God, why are you doing it this way?! I don’t understand. Why haven’t You given me what I need (read: want)?! I don’t want to wait/deal with this/be in this situation one moment longer. And, I am pretty sure I know a great solution. So, would You go ahead and take care of it in that way (please), like now-ish?”
The tone above may be exaggerated a bit — but if we’re honest? There have probably been more than a few situations in our lives where we had the opportunity to wait graciously like Charlie, remembering previous faithfulness and trusting that good will come. But instead, we found ourselves stomping our mental feet and grabbing at things, trying to control the situation instead of trusting that God knows what He is doing and will bring things together in His time. In short, we Veruca’d it.
I am so very grateful that we serve a loving God who is patient with us rather than a quirky chocolatier who sends us down the “bad egg” chute, no matter how much we may deserve it. May we all be more like Charlie today, and less like Veruca. And, when we do, we may just find ourselves in the “land of pure imagination“.
“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.'” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT)
Photo by naomi tamar on Unsplash