Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happily Ever After???

by Dina Sleiman

Don't  you just love a good happily ever after? The handsome prince on his gallant steed sweeps you away and carries you off to his castle to live in wealthy, romantic, unadulterated bliss. Sigh. Too bad happily ever afters only exist in fairy tales. And even in those, they're questionable. I mean, you must first be a scullery maid, poisoned by your step mother, forced to marry an evil sorcerer, or tricked by a sea witch. Not fun stuff.

But how happy are those ever afters anyway? I mean in the movies, we never see past the wedding scene.  Let's face it, real life is just that. Real. Imperfect. Human. I do know a few women who will swear they've found their prince charmings, but I think that can be credited more to their own good attitudes, loving hearts, and reasonable expectations than to the actual existence of fairy tale heroes.

Part of me likes those alternative versions of fairy tales where the princesses fight off the bad guys. A girl needs to stand up for herself and take charge, right? Female empowerment, women's lib, and all that. But somehow I don't think that's quite the answer either. I've been learning for the last few years that I can, in fact, do nothing in my own strength. Only in my weakness can Christ's strength be revealed.

So I spent some time pondering these legendary women. Cinderella, despite her awful circumstances, found contentment. She whistled while she worked and discovered joy all around her, never stooping to the level of her nasty step-sisters. Wouldn't it make sense that God would send her a gift--in this case a fairy godmother complete with ball gown, carriage, and glass slippers--to release her into her destiny.

Snow White loved the unloveable. She lived with the outcasts of society. Seven dwarves with some serious personality issues. Let's overlook for a moment the misogynist message that she found happiness cooking and cleaning for these men. The truth is, she nurtured them and brought light into their lives in true Christ-like fashion. So when the enemy tried to kill her, little wonder that God would send a handsome prince with a healing kiss.

Princess Jasmine left a palatial paradise to go out and see the real world. She fell in love with the lowliest of peasant boys. It's only right that after laying down her pride and her royalty to embrace her humanity that she would reap a blessing in return. That this young man would find the miraculous means to save her from a life enslaved by an evil wizard, and that said hero would marry her.

And the Little Mermaid. A girl who put aside her prejudice and chose to build bridges with her mortal enemy. Okay, she had some rebellion issues, which got her into a real...kettle of fish. Ha, ha. Sorry, couldn't resist. But thanks to a Christ figure who offered his own life, she was saved. Or, in the Broadway version, Ariel herself took back what had been stolen and broke the power of the enemy.

Does any of this sound familiar? It seems like the fairy tales actually got a few things right. Maybe in the end, these stories aren't as much about our quest for romance, as mankind's spiritual quest for the lover of our souls. The Prince of Peace who will never leave us or forsake us. While we may have sorrows in this world, we can be of good cheer, for he has overcome the world.

And...an eternal happily ever after awaits all those he loves.

So these are some of my crazy thoughts on fairy tales. Feel free to disagree or add your own spiritual takes on your favorite childhood stories.

21 comments:

  1. What a fascinating take on these timeless stories, Dina! I love the twists and turns your mind takes. Oh, and those pics are great!

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  2. I love those pictures. I think Snow White is my favorite. All those babies. My sister sent my these in an email along with a fat Red Riding Hood nibbling on food from her picnic basket and Belle undergoing plastic surgery.

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  3. You've hit upon what most critics of the romance genre miss, that characters aren't given their HEA, they deserve it.

    Too many of us, with fiction and in our own lives, focus on the riding into the sunset instead of the struggle to reach that point.

    As Christians we should rely 100% on God's grace and his provision. But at the same time, remember that Jesus talked a lotabout the principle of reaping and sowing .

    Love, and life, is not a lottery where a lucky few take the prize. We all can triumph in the end, which is why I think the appeal of fairy tales, and romance stories, will never die.

    Dina, a great take on the fairy tale with lots of food for thought.

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  4. Wow, Wenda, this was just sort of a rambling, stream of conscious, discovery sort of writing for me. You really pinned it down, though.

    Thanks.

    I think Christians also underestimate the power that was afforded to us at the cross and our own responsibility to stand against the enemy.

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  5. I think we should be okay with 'happily they made their way towards whatever ups and downs were coming down the pike' but I guess that's not very catchy, is it?

    Maybe Happy Ever After just means that two people are facing things together now rather than alone.

    I enjoyed the photos. Reminds me of the phrase, "Be careful what you wish/pray for" because we so often have skewed ideas of what would make us happy. I bet Snow White was just having a bad day and things will improve in five or ten years....

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  6. Yeah, Deb. I think Snow White would be fine if she just discovered birth control and kicked her lazy husband off the couch.

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  7. Oh my goodness, these pics are a scream! Loved them! Poor Ariel, LOL!

    After everyone else's insightful comments, I can only nod my head in agreement. I have no zip today. But thanks so much Dina. This was a fun and thought-provoking post.

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  8. Oh Dina, those pictures are a gas! Well, except for the Little Mermaid. :(

    I believe there is a happily ever after - with Jesus in heaven.

    Until then, it would be boring. My jaw would ache from smiling all day.

    But in heaven, there is no pain, no earthly bodies, so it doesn't matter. :)

    Great post.

    Anita.

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  9. Heard the good news. Congrats Lisa and Susanne.

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  10. Good point, Anita. Wouldn't want that jaw to hurt.

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  11. Wenda, you are so articulate! what a great way you encapsulated what I was sort of thinking in your comment. I sure do admire all you girls. You all are very dear to me.

    And Dina, thanks for the shout out!

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  12. This is great! I'm a big fan of happily ever afters . . . with the understanding that they're not just a reward, they're a job. I'm living mine, loving it, and boy is it hard work!

    That said, those pictures cracked me up. I really liked Jasmine. =) Though The Little Mermaid earned the biggest chuckle, which I would NOT explain to my 4-year-old, LOL.

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  13. No, Roseanna, the pictures are definitely not 4 year old approved, although my 7 year old get a chuckle out of them

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  14. Dina, fascinating post! The pictures are hysterical and I've enjoyed reading all the comments :-)

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  15. Oh my word! Those pictures are a crack up! Like a "where are they now" reality show for Disney.
    You and I must think a lot alike, because I've got an entire ladies' Bible study series based on the Disney princesses, and much of what you said in this post goes right on the same lines!
    Fun post, Dina!

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  16. Glad you enjoyed it, Narelle. I know several of us needed a good laugh yesterday.

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  17. Niki, are you implying that I'm not crazy?

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  18. No, I don't think you're crazy... unless I'm crazy, too. Hmmm. I don't want to think about that right now. : )

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  19. Dina, your thoughts are not crazy thoughts at all. I just love the way you think. I really enjoyed this, and the pictures were great, too. Especially the little mermaid.

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  20. DINA!!!
    HILARIOUS!
    Love meeting you at BRMCWC...and your website looks lovely. Very Z :-)

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  21. Hi Pepper,

    I had so much fun hanging out with you. Glad you stopped by. I visited your group blog today too.

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