When You Feel Like Giving Up

B.J. Funk

B.J. Funk

By B.J. Funk –

Walt Disney could have given up on his dream. As a young man, he was fired from a Kansas City newspaper because his boss thought that he lacked creativity. He then raised $18,000 and created a company called Laugh-O-Gram in 1921. He made a deal with a New York distributor, and when they went out of business, he was forced to shut down Laugh-O-Gram. He created the character Oswald the Rabbit in 1926. When he attempted to negotiate a better deal with a studio he discovered they had secretly patented his character. The studio continued the cartoon without his input and without paying him.

Disney later struggled to release some now-famous classic films. He was told that his mouse character would scare women and that “The Three Little Pigs” needed more characters. Pinocchio was shut down during production, and he had to rewrite the story line.

In order to put the magical nanny, Mary Poppins, on the big screen, he went to see P.L. Travers, author of the six Mary Poppins’ novels. She refused for 20 years before she saw his vision and allowed him to bring Mary Poppins to the big screen in 1964. The words from this musical still thrill audiences, and now a younger generation will be introduced to Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins through the new film, Saving Mr. Banks, with Tom Hanks. Seems to me, for an example of perseverance, it’s a good time to take a closer look at Mr. Walt Disney.

So, what was the magic key that caused Walt Disney to continue, when so many obstacles were in his way? In the early 1930s, he suffered a breakdown. He was unfocused, unable to concentrate, and cried easily. When his business fortunes were at their lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner, he said, “Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad.”

Disney was a devout Congregational Christian who attributed his efforts to bring clean, informative entertainment to people of all ages to his lifelong habit of prayer. On July 17, 1955 Walt Disney dedicated Disneyland before a TV audience of millions, learning later that forged tickets brought thousands that day without his knowledge. The newly poured asphalt melted the heels of women and a plumber’s strike kept the drinking fountains from being installed. Since that somewhat difficult beginning, over 600 million people have visited Disneyland.

Disney went on to produce more than 81 feature films, and he earned 950 honors, including 48 Academy Awards. He said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realize it when it happens, but a good kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you!” This sounds like the Disney paraphrase of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him … ” and also the beautiful comment by Joseph in Genesis 45:5 when he said to his brothers who had betrayed him, “You meant this for evil, but God meant it for good.”

He left some rich tidbits of advice. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” Another time he said, “I pick myself up, learn from my mistakes, and move on.” And this one: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Despite the hardships of an overzealous father with whom he had a terrible relationship, Walt did all he could to support his parents until they died. He walked into the Ten Commandments, taking the fifth one seriously: Honor your father and your mother. In fact, he moved his parents closer to him so he could provide for them and take care of them.

Critics claim he had a dark side, influenced by his supposed involvement in anti-Semitism, but in everything written about Disney there is no hint of his being anything but a dedicated family man. An opera about Disney, called “The Perfect American,” likely stunned him. However, he seemed capable of producing the balance needed in those we Americans put on a pedestal.  Disney steps off of the podium of honor and prestige we have given him when he puts things in perspective.

“I only hope we don’t lose sight of one thing … that it was all started by a mouse.”

Comments

  1. Thank You Good News for having articles by Rev. B.J. I have been reading her articles wherever I can find them for a long time. I used to read them in the old N. GA. Christian Advocate and when it went out of publication and was divided up into N. & S. Ga Christian Advocate, being in the N. GA. portion, I subscribed to the S. GA. Advocate because of her and a few other writers articles. I teach a women’s S. S. Class and have used many of her articles as examples in my lesson purpose illustrations. She has what I call a common sense religion that my students can identify with.

  2. It’s hard to believe that some boss thought Disney lacked creativity! But it didn’t stop him. I have always admired Walt Disney. When I was around 10, I wanted to be one of his cartoonists when I grew up. BJ…thanks for your great post! Walt Disney is a wonderful example of perseverance against all odds!

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