Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived a completely perfect girl with blonde, flowing hair, who did countless chores at the hands of her ugly, wicked step-mother and sisters. Without ever showing a bad attitude, she did exactly what she was told, never stomped her feet, and always found beauty in life – even in her cold, lonely tower bedroom. A few miles away, lived a completely perfect prince who was just aching to find the woman of his dreams. He knew she was out there, but he was growing weary with all the imperfect, ugly women in his kingdom.
One day, this perfect girl escaped the walls of her prison and, with the help of a fairy godmother and some animals, she made her way to his palace. He saw her in the distance. He ran through the sea of eligible maidens, sweeping every other woman aside, and took this girl in his arms. Slowly they begin dancing farther and farther away from the crowd, singing, “So this is love…hum mm mm mm…so this is loooove.” Amazing! They’re already in love! They looked at each other and knew! When love is true you just know, right? You don’t have to question it, don’t have to pray about it, don’t need to get to know each other, and don’t need to seek wise counsel… you just know!
Sadly, the perfect girl runs off into the dark night without so much as telling the perfect prince her name, but never fear… fate steps in and finds that same perfect girl (the one with perfect, dainty, lovely feet), she and the perfect prince marry, and then the perfect pair lives happily ever after.
What We Love About Fairytales
Okay, don’t get me wrong… I actually love fairytales. Some days when I’m cleaning, I’ll pop in one of my old childhood Disney favorites (e.g., Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, or Aladdin) and relive those years when life was far less complicated. We love fairytales because they inspire hope in us; they make the world seem loving and good. Fairytales tap in to a special place in our hearts. What woman doesn’t like to think about her prince charging through fire, flood, and famine to rescue her? What man doesn’t like to believe there is a beautiful, sweet, submissive, humble woman out there that will esteem his every move? Fairytales are awesome! Unfortunately, they are just fun stories.
Positives of Fairytales
There are definitely some positives to fairytales. Fairytales remind us not to give up on our dreams. They revive a trust in our hearts and a faith in our fellow man. Fairytales are beautiful and we all need a little beauty in our crazy lives! Fairytales make us want to love our sweetheart better (at least they have that effect on me) and they leave us with a feeling that says, “We may have to endure a lot to find our special someone, but once we do it will all be worth it.”
Fairytales are not evil, but they have a way of getting into our minds and painting an unrealistic picture of love. Many of us were born in an era when Disney was cranking out scores of animated movies (The Little Mermaid being my absolute favorite to this day ~smile~); so, we immersed ourselves (the ladies, at least) into fairytale culture. The perfectly innocent cartoons our parents let us watch provided us with an understanding of how relationships worked. So, many of us grew into adulthood expecting our love lives to unfold like the princes and princesses we watched as kids.
Negatives of Fairytales
The downside of fairytales? Fairytales aren’t real. There are no perfect people and “happily ever after” comes at a price. Those who live happily ever after do so because they worked hard to build a lasting love and home. There are only a handful of couples (if any) who live through their entire marriages without facing some hurdles. Successfully jumping over hurdles together makes marriages stronger!
Fairytales leave us feeling gypped. “Where’s my Prince Charming?” “Why aren’t any of the guys I date chivalrous and strong?” “Where’s my Princess?” “Why are all the girls I date flawed?” When we spend countless hours dreaming about our perfect match, it’s no fun to come back down out of the clouds and realize that we don’t have a perfect match. We have better matches and worse matches, but no one out there is absolutely perfect for us. Shattering that bubble is hard!
“What do you mean there is no perfect person for me?” “What do you mean I won’t be perfect for someone?” We are trained to believe that someday true love will find us and that perfect man or woman will make our lives complete and ridiculously happy. It’s a fun thought, but not the reality of love.
The Realistic Fairytale
So, what would a realistic fairytale look like? I believe it would go something like this:
Once upon a time, in a house down the street, lived a girl who was anxiously awaiting the love of her life. Across town, a young man, who will one day be her husband, works hard in school and at his after-school job.
While the lovely, yet imperfect, girl waits, she learns all she can about being a good wife. Her mom teaches her the basics of running a home, she shows her what Scripture has to say about being a virtuous woman, and her father models how she should expect to be treated by a man and protects her.
Across town, her future husband learns the power of a good work ethic. His mom shows him how to treat his future bride, and his dad instructs him on what the Bible says about being a strong, godly, loving, servant leader.
One day, a mutual friend introduces the lovely, yet imperfect girl to the handsome, yet imperfect boy, and they begin casually talking. Before they know it, they are talking regularly. The handsome, yet imperfect, boy finally works up the nerve to ask the lovely, yet imperfect, girl’s father if he can begin pursuing her. After a lot of talking, a few fights, a lot of laughs, pre-engagement counseling (~smile~), and prayer, this young imperfect couple decides to get engaged and, later, married. There is a lot of excitement as the wedding gifts arrive, a lot of stress as wedding details come together, and a lot of anticipation as the bride and groom anxiously await becoming man and wife (and they might be excited about the honeymoon too ~smile~).
After the imperfect couple moves into their first home, they experience some communication break downs. There are a lot of slamming doors, squealing tires, and making up. However, this lovely imperfect bride begins to grow into a lovely, imperfect, godly wife who finds deep respect for her imperfect husband as he faithfully loves and provides for her. The imperfect groom grows into a strong, godly leader who adores his wife more each day as she faithfully helps him and prays for him.
As the years go by, they endured money fights, sleepless nights with newborns, family deaths, layoffs, sicknesses, and rebellious children. Yet, all these circumstances did not pull them apart because this imperfect couple decided early on that they would not walk alone. They learned as newlyweds to lean on God. They realized early on that they could not rely on each other for joy, but that joy was found in the Lord. They weren’t perfect for each other, but they learned how to understand and give selflessly to each other. They grew old together, loving each other more every day, and when God took one of them home, the other was not far behind. For eternity, they will live happily ever after in the presence of their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the only one they ever loved more than they loved each other.
A God-Focused Fairytale
When really thinking through it, I believe I prefer the realistic fairytale to the fantasy fairytale I used to dream of. It’s much more likely to make me truly happy and much more likely to come true. And let’s face it, if the realistic fairytale came true, it would be a modern-day fairytale given all of the heartache and divorce we see in our culture.
God’s love story for you will be far greater than any man made fairytale. You will get more scrapes and bruises. Your prince or princess will likely have bad breath, annoying habits, and possibly a fear of cleaning bathrooms. You probably won’t live in a palace with servants. But if He’s Lord of your romance, you will live joyfully ever after. You will endure trials, but God will sustain you if you trust in Him.
How have you been affected by living in a fairytale-saturated culture?