Here is something a bit different – Radiant has written a few fictional variations of Cinderella to help us understand how we are to respond to Christ. May this bless you! I believe it will be especially meaningful for those who are struggling to receive the love of Christ and/or their husband’s love. If you are short on time, please read the first part, read the titles of sections 1-3, and then skip to part 4.
let’s consider one of the most beautiful fairy tales, brimming with the Gospel and told all over the world. In the French version, she was deeply loved by her father as a girl, and was able to receive his love and enjoy him fully. After his death, her evil stepmother and step sisters made her a captive and a slave in darkness because of their own evilness, hurt and jealousy. She kept hope and love alive in her heart – remembering how loved she was and the beauty that used to fill her world. She refused to base her identity on all of the poisonous lies of these loveless women and her circumstances. After wrestling through a little unbelief, she was able to accept the help of the fairy godmother and the love of the prince. She took her place with him and launched off to her happily ever after.
That is what is etched onto our hearts as what is right and should happen, because it is God’s story for us, too. We were made for the Happiest Ever After as His Princess Bride.
Now imagine with me – a different response. Kind of like the response some of us give to our Prince, and even to our husbands when they try to love us. Picture Cinderella spending her years in slavery thinking only of what was missing, all of the awful treatment she has received, and only believing the lies told to her for years rather than thinking on anything good. She never sings, never dances, never hopes, never loves. She only hurts; only thinks of the bad things and becomes bitter, full of self-pity and walls to keep people out.
The fairy godmother comes to help her go to the ball after all of her own self-effort was destroyed, and instead of receiving it gladly in grateful awe, she refuses. She collapses in a heap of tears in the mud, saying she can’t possibly be beautiful or loved or feel at home in a gorgeous ball gown. She says she won’t be able to dance, no one will even speak to her. The prince will despise her, everyone will mock her and kick her out. The mice won’t want to turn into horses for her. She wonders how the fairy godmother could really make all of this happen? She has never seen this kind of magic and she just can’t believe anyone would do anything good for her after all of these years of being told how ugly, worthless, and useless she is. She has bought every lie, and now she is imprisoned in darkest gloom. Her cell is locked from the inside.
I invite you into the version of the story many of us have lived out, from Cinderella’s perspective if she thought like we have:
- Receiving Nothing Good at All – Before Salvation
It has been 5 years since Daddy died. I glance at the dead trees of winter shrouded in mist outside the kitchen window. I can’t think of a single good thing in life since he left me here alone. The wind whistles forlornly through the empty branches like the breath through my tight chest. Rain pours cold tears over the sadness that has descended on the world. No one sings and dances with me. I have not received one kind word or look or act since that horrible night. I eat the scraps dumped on the floor with the mice. I freeze every night in the dilapidated attic that is now my only space in the manor that should rightfully be mine. I should rightfully be the lady of this house and I am worse off than a slave. My hands and feet are full of blisters, my back aches and I feel numb, hard and cold. I have become a shadow. Invisible. Just trying to do well enough to avoid notice.
My step sisters mock me and constantly demand more of me as they prance about being silly in their finery. I spend untold hours a day working my fingers to the bone for them, just so they can pile on even more duties. They don’t even take care of their beautiful things. They have no appreciation for their freedom and possessions. They leave all manner of frocks, corsets and stockings with bits of lace and pearls strewn about the house for me to pick up. I must rewash and press and hang every item that is not in their closet or folded neatly in their trunks. I mend all of their torn hems, and scrub out every stain they so carelessly splatter onto their silks. It is my weekly duty to polish their jewels and combs and organize them becomingly in their jewelry boxes. They have spent all of Daddy’s money on themselves. And I – I never even asked for a gift, I only wanted him.
I don’t think I can keep this up. I feel so nauseated every time I think of them. My head aches, and my mind gets foggy. I have been exhausted for months, and I am having a hard time keeping track of all of my lists, errands and duties.
Stepmother is the worst of all. She pulls me in close, promising to love me or tempting me with a little treat or trinket for a job well done, and then stomps on my heart once again. My stepmother has whipped me so many times. I jump at every the slightest sound, even the little field mice that scurry through the empty larder. I have walked with a limp since last Christmas Eve when she shoved me down the kitchen stairs into the basement for forgetting to chill her champagne. How could I be so thoughtless?
Why do I have to go through life in such hopeless despair? I stare at the birds searching for seeds outside the kitchen window. I think it would have been best if I had never known happiness and my father’s love. At least then my expectations would match reality. My heart and my dress are in shreds. I see how I look in Stepmother’s looking glass and the copper tea kettle – hideous, deformed, dirty, unlovable… Nobody. I have dark rings around my eyes, my gleaming hair has turned to straw. I look like a skeleton with pasty skin. There is no trace of that happy little girl I once was. I wonder now if that was all just a dream. I feel certain I will spend the rest of all time without love. I really am everything they say I am. Everything bad in our house truly is all my fault. Who else’s could it be? It is my job to be sure everything is done properly. If only I could do a better job, maybe they could finally find it in their hearts to love me.
Even the portly parish priest says we get what we deserve in life. That if we just tried hard to be good, God would bless us. What have I done to suffer so? Others seem so content with their lot in life. I have tried to repent. I feel guilty all the time. I try to pay for my sins by leaving what few offerings I can in the small, oak box at our tiny stone chapel. I have prayed, oh so many times. All for nothing. I believe God has abandoned me on a dusty shelf to never remember again.
But I have made up my mind. I am not going to let myself be hurt again. I may have been abandoned by my father and by God, but I will be strong on my own and never need anyone again. I will take care of myself. I will keep my head down, work as hard as I can, and maybe these women will quit torturing me. I will only expect the worst so that I will never be disappointed. Perhaps if I attack myself and blame myself first, no one else will feel the need to do it and I could at last be free of this constant criticism.
Then, unexpectedly, my fairy godmother appears. I had no idea I had one. She changes her old, haggard appearance into a beautiful, glimmering white gown. She even has a tiny crown on her head. The fairy declares that she is going to help me go to the ball. I certainly couldn’t go to a ball in my state. I had just finished an intense week of preparing my step sisters and Stepmother for the ball that the Prince had announced eight days prior. I barely ate or slept the whole time. Maybe I am imagining things? She has a sparkling wand and is promising all varieties of nonsense. There is no way she could be powerful enough to get me a carriage, dress, shoes, horses and horsemen; much less the energy to go out and dance. Not to mention, I am filthy! She is just being ridiculous. Maybe her glasses are a bit too rosy. She just doesn’t know how hard my situation is. Maybe she has helped others, but my problems are worse.
Fairy Godmother, as she likes to be addressed, says “You shall go to the ball!” She starts to turn a pumpkin into a coach, but really, I do not see the point. It is all impossible. I turn back to the kitchen to do my last tidying of the flurry of fabrics, face paints and jewels before collapsing. I certainly don’t need another beating. .She gets huffy with me like I am ungrateful! As if it is only my lack of belief, and not her lack of power, that keeps me from receiving beautiful things from her. I try to help her understand there is no point anyway. The prince could never love me. My fairy godmother promises all of these magical things and says she wants me to go to the ball. But what is the use? I’m far too ugly, broken, dirty and hopeless. I am so tired. Who am I to go to the ball? A mere slave. Used to rags. Why get my hopes up just to be hurt again? I run into the old house all the way up to my attic room and pull the tattered blanket over my head. I think of all of the reasons I have to be miserable and to never expect any help from anyone. How impossible that silly fairy’s promises are. Who does she think she is? She is crazy! Oh I feel so alone and hopeless. Why won’t someone come rescue me? I pray to God for help every night and it never comes.
(Now imagine that she does go to the ball – the prince does like her – but she is still full of unbelief)
2. Believing a Little in God, Goodness and Truth
I went to the prince’s ball last night. It wasn’t a complete disaster. Of course, everyone else was prettier than I. The amazing, robin’s egg blue gown my fairy godmother put me in kept people from noticing me and hid some of my flaws. The prince said I was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, but he doesn’t really get around much, does he? I am sure he says this to all of the ladies. He is very well bred of course, as a prince. He is so handsome, tremendously kind and the most wonderful dancer. He seems to be brilliant, knowing everything about everything. I don’t think he completely hated me. He did dance every dance with me, but I could tell he only did it because he felt sorry for me. He obviously wanted to dance with other girls but didn’t have the heart to tell me. I clumsily stepped on his foot – I was so horrified! I could hardly dance and he was amazing with perfect form for every waltz and reel. He was very gentle, but he has to be like that with everyone. He laughed at a piece of hay in my hair as he pulled it out. I know he thinks I am a worthless country girl. He was looking for a princess. I was so awkward. My feet were too small. My neck was too long. My ears were too big. I am so boney now. And my hair!! It was so blond and curly, piled high upon my head with the little circlet the fairy godmother place on my head. Everyone else had beautiful straight brown hair styled simply. I was the only one with pale blue eyes in the whole ballroom. I am so hideous! I could tell everyone was laughing and staring at me. I am never going anywhere again. I barely made it home in time. I could have turned into a pumpkin had I left one moment later. This was way too risky. Why did I ever believe that fairy godmother?! Imagine me ever being loved by the prince.
(One more phase for our poor girl to endure – what if the prince actually wants to marry her?)
3. Believing Enough to be Saved – but Without Relationship or Moving Past Most Unbelief. (Perhaps believing in a Little God with most of the responsibility on our shoulders)
Today the prince came to our old, stone house. He said he spent weeks searching the entire kingdom, trying to find me! My step mother tried to keep me locked in the tower, but he sent in his soldiers and had them escort me to his side so that he could slip the sparkling glass form on my foot. I pulled out the matching slipper from my apron pocket, even though I assumed this had to be a dream. He said he wants to marry me! How can he really know that? I know he won’t want to once he knows me better. I don’t feel engaged, but I agreed to it since he was so insistent. We did have a magical night together at the ball. I just feel so bad for him that he has to settle for someone like me when the ideal princess who is gorgeous and charming and curvy and fun and perfect at every refinement is out there somewhere, deserving him. I am just so plain. He so sweetly offered to give me a whole new wardrobe –but, really, what’s the use. I will just look ridiculous in all of that finery. That’s not my real identity. My real identity has always been and always will be Nobody. Broken. Alone. Dirty. Sleeping on the Floor. Never Good Enough. Why does he get so frustrated with me and fail to see how unlovable I am? I am just trying to protect him. And me. I can’t let anyone in. It is way too scary. What if it turned out that he didn’t love me? I would shatter beyond hope then.
I will just try to stay invisible, stay out of the way, do the duties I need to do in the Palace, and not expect anything good. Then I won’t be too big of a burden to him. I will never ask anything of him – that would be so demanding. And I will protect him from giving me too much. I don’t want him to waste his gold or time or heart on me. He said he would redecorate the whole castle all for me, but I couldn’t possibly make him do all of that when the castle is getting run down and in need of structural repair. That would be silly. Quite frivolous, really. But his mother! She asks him for things all the time, and he actually gives them to her. At least I am not so brazenly demanding. I am sure he appreciates that at least one of us is so laid back and easy to care for. I will never be one of those nagging wives who are impossible to satisfy.
I do feel so alone and misunderstood. I can’t even do any of the servant’s jobs – the prince gets upset if I even try! What am I supposed to do here if I can’t be at least useful? I can’t be pretty, loved or useful? What is left?! I cry every night. The prince used to try to comfort me, but then even he gave up, since he could see it wasn’t worth helping me. I am starting to see it would be better if I were still at my stepmother’s house. At least I could feel useful and wouldn’t be causing so much pain to the prince. And he would be free to be happy with someone else.
4. Believing Enough to be Saved AND Receive Our New Identity, Position, Clothing, Blessings, Authority, Love and Relationship
Now this isn’t the Cinderella we know and love! She is so beautiful, cheerful, thankful, kind, brave and uncomplaining! She sees so much good even in her unfair imprisonment and never gives up. She makes friends where she can and treats them well. She is thankful for each little blessing and beauty in her life. She is able to receive good even from the birds and mice. She sings and dances and remembers the happy times. She is still able to get her hopes up and dream of good things for herself. She still sees herself as a lady even though she has been a slave for years. She sets her mind on good and beautiful things, no matter what evil is said or done to her. She doesn’t receive mean words or deeds as a victim. She expects little from others, knowing they are hurting, but is full of love herself and able to let it pour out. She doesn’t condemn or hold grudges – she knows these women who have hurt and abused her have no love to give. That they do the best they can.
The only way to do this as real Cinderellas is Jesus, our Prince of Peace. He has everything – His infinite love, authority, gifts, blessings, healing, kindness, grace, mercy, joy, peace, wisdom and knowledge to pour out into us.
He waits each day to do it, knocking like a gentleman outside the door to our hearts to be allowed to come in and be everything to us. He longs to dress us in His finery and fill us with the richest nourishment. To call us by His Name, in our rightful place as His Bride, which He Himself bought for us in His Blood. He made us a kingdom of priests with constant access to the Holy of Holies to breathe in the fresh, pure air of Love. To be healed and set right with Him. To die to ourselves and live totally for His Kingdom of Love. To be set free from shackles of Self and bitterness and fear. To be then empowered to go to the lowest places and bring His love, life, light and healing to all who are hurting and captive in darkest gloom just like we were. To fight with Him against the Enemy who takes such pleasure in stealing, destroying and killing all that is beautiful.
- Will we receive His proposal?
- Will we believe His words and promises and goodness and character despite our pain, sorrows and lack of experiencing Him in our pasts?
He has done everything. It is finished. All that is left for us Cinderellas to do is to receive Him and everything He offers joyfully. We give Him all that we have –our past, future, rags, hurts, pain, self-effort, sin and mess. Then He will gladly exchange our ashes for beauty, our death for His life, our sin for His righteousness, our despair for the oil of gladness, our empty loneliness for being His Bride, our hurts and scars for healing, and all of our wrong identity and self-effort with His beauty and our identity in Him. He is waiting to lavish all that He is on you, dear Cinderella. Will you receive it? The glass slipper is in your hand. You have already been chosen! The key to any prison you have been in is Belief in the Name and power of Jesus, your Prince! You are loved! You are His Beautiful Bride!
Psalm 45:11, 13-15 describes you if you are in Christ. He has made you stunningly beautiful and without spot or wrinkle for Himself!
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; (He has made YOU beautiful!)
honor him, for he is your lord.
All glorious is the princess within her chamber; (He has made YOU glorious!)
her gown is interwoven with gold. (You are royal and made pure and holy)
In embroidered garments she is led to the king;
her virgin companions follow her—
those brought to be with her.
Led in with joy and gladness,
they enter the palace of the king. (His goal is to always hold you close, and He is all-powerful)
Ephesians 5:25-32 >> And this is how He loves you – you are already loved perfectly! (Rewritten as how Jesus loves you instead of how He commands husbands to love their wives)
Jesus loves His Bride _(your name)_, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for ( you), that he might sanctify (you), having cleansed (you) by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present (you) to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that (you) might be holy and without blemish. In the same way Jesus loves His wife as His own body (The Church IS His Body – and you are too). He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church (so Jesus nourishes and cherishes you – never hating you), because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Jesus holds tight to you and He holds you fast to Himself and nothing can separate you from that Love!) This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
See the beautiful words (He is The Word) He speaks over you- beautiful, glorious, beautifully dressed, in splendor, without any bad thing or blemish, holy, nourished, cherished, loved, Bride, Princess.
You are ONE with Christ as He is one with His Father! He is Faithful and True. Every promise is “Yes” in Christ. Will you believe your past, other people, the nagging, awful, critical voice in your head, your past beliefs – or will you put all your faith and hope in Him. Will you keep putting your hope in trying hard to be good or save yourself (your health, your marriage, your husband, your kids, your family) even as a Christian by following rules and trying to earn His love and carrying unbearably heavy burdens?
Please taste and see that the Lord is good to you today. Receive Him at His unbreakable Word. Unbelief is not your friend. It is not protecting you, it is imprisoning you. (So are doubt, negativity, vowing to not get hurt, bitterness, unforgiveness, addiction, fear, pride, self-effort, protecting yourself, a hard heart, and feeling like you have to have it all together in yourself or have good in you on your own or just try harder). Don’t just believe He can be good to others – receive His goodness and love and grace and forgiveness and beauty and what He says about you for yourself. You don’t have to feel or see all of the proof first to know He is faithful and trustworthy. Break all of your old, dingy, ashy clothes and habits, negative thoughts and lies that hold you captive. Tell Him you give Him all of the wrong ways you view being a Christian, a woman, a wife, a mom, a sister, a friend. Ask Him to make all of those things new – to remake you in Him. Don’t hold on to the lie that He is small and you and your problems are big. Receive all that He wants to do in and through you before you feel it. Know He can plant the seeds of salvation, His Spirit, His love, your new identity, His lavish gifts – before you begin to understand or feel or see them. Receive it as done today. Then thank and praise Him right away!! And set your mind on Him, your Prince of Peace. Let today start a very different journey for you with your Prince who loves and adores you! He will make you Renewed, Redeemed, Restored, Beautiful and Radiant no matter what difficult circumstances, storms or darkness you may have to pass through. He will be with you. He longs to dress you in compassion, humility, joy, peace, beauty, love, thankfulness and joy. Sparkling brilliant white in the gorgeous gown of His perfect righteousness.
Grace and Peace to each of you, and be filled with the fullness of God’s love for you and with all that Jesus did for you on the Cross, by His blood and broken body and when He fulfilled the Law and defeated death, the curse, and sin and rose again in absolute victory!
Praising Him with you,