I used to fear Disney Princesses.
When my daughter was in her twos and threes, I was sincerely afraid that her affinity for all things princess would turn her into a romance-lovin' young woman whose main goal in life was to find her Prince Charming. Totally suspicious of what Mr. Disney was trying to sell my toddler, I thought she'd grow up thinking that twirling for someone's attention was what life was all about. Before I knew what was really going on inside her, I thought I could prevent her from buying into that world of fantasy and living to be defined by a boy.
But I started watching my daughter more closely. Was she imitating Cinderella, or was she twirling out of something much more innate? Eventually I had to ask myself if my toddler was not merely reflecting the longing I too had inside as a grown woman? Was she just more free and uninhibited to ask for the love and adoration I too desired? And did Disney Princesses have anything to do with it at all?
Now, I realize that Cinderella is an icon because she reflects our feminine hearts, and not just the little girls'. The story of Cinderella says that Love is transforming. Love can pick us up out of destitution and hopelessness and make us radiant. It is the quintessential beauty for ashes story. It's a story that needs to be told, but in a slightly different way. (Enter: the mommy)
When I was in college, living away from family for the first time, I remember clearly lying in bed at night - on several nights - literally feeling the pain of loneliness. I so longed to be married, thinking that was what I needed. And at 22, getting married helped, for a while.
But a decade later, I realized I felt the exact same way. Things weren't smooth and I was still horribly lonely. I was twirling and twirling, so tired of twirling, and no one seemed to care. I've told this story before, but the loneliness brought me to my knees.
And there, I found it. Romance.
The Prince was smiling at me. He was in love with me. He saw right past my tattered dress into my heart, and loved what He found there. He loved it because he knew what to do with it. He wasn't confused or thrown off or intimidated by me. He didn't think I was too much to handle. He saw me as a beautiful, radiant woman.
And that love is still transforming me.
My daughter is eight now. I really don't know how this happened, but she is drawn to country music. She loves the Dixie Chicks and Taylor Swift. And of course, she loves the love songs. (Well, aren't they all love songs?) I'm tempted to be afraid of all those blondies singing about the boy of their dreams, selling my daughter on the idea that a boy can fill up her soul. Right now, she probably believes it. Which is why I take my job very seriously: to teach her what that longing is there for. In age-appropriate bites, I'm teaching her about a love that will fill her up more than any man ever will. I'm introducing her to a Prince and a Love that will never let her down.
And maybe, like me, she won't get it until she's thirty. I'm telling you, I've heard the phrase 'God loves you' one zillion times in my life. I've been in church since birth. And until I sought Him in my loneliness, until I asked him to tell me who I was, I had no idea what it meant. So maybe my daughter will have her own journey of heartache. But it's my job to tell her the truth, because Taylor Swift certainly isn't, and she has a pretty loud voice.
Finding out how loved we really are is always a surprising twist in our story. As soon as we think all is lost, the Prince comes to rescue us. He showed up in my darkest hour. Somehow he got past all the obstacles. Somehow, my prison was unlocked and I had a chance at freedom. He had one slipper, in my exact size. I was the one He was looking for. I was the light in His eyes. At first, I wondered, How could this be? It is hard to receive real, unconditional, passionate love. But it's harder to go back to the tower all alone.
I hope today you know how loved you really are. If you feel you have stopped longing to be seen and adored due to past hurt, I encourage you to bring that hurt to God. He wants to tell you what He sees in you. And if that seems daunting, try reading Captivating (see bookshelf to the right). It explains all the concepts in this post in great detail, and was instrumental in teaching me who I was through God's eyes. It is filled with powerful truths.
May I twirl today uninhibited, knowing my Prince sees the whole me and thinks I'm absolutely beautiful anyway. Who needs a fairy Godmother when you have Love?