Beyond magic, behind fantasy, before “Bibbity-bobbity-boo,” there are stories—stories that captivate the human heart. Why? What is it about fairytales that endears them to generations?
It isn’t just Disney. People have loved fairytales long before talking mice and singing princesses. The fact is, fairytales are an expression of human longing. We call them idealistic, and so they are; they reflect the desires of the heart. Is it any wonder, then, that we identify with these tales? They communicate with something deep within—our desire for beauty and for love.
As children, we learn to appreciate beauty, only to discover our own incapability to achieve it. We become profoundly aware of every blemish, every flaw, and its failure to reach the ideal. A middle school or high school is perfect evidence of the results: countless individuals whose greatest fear is their own insufficiency. Each has a unique method of hiding, even while their hearts still plead for recognition and affirmation. Eating disorders, clothing, body modifications and destructive behaviors become outlets, cloaks, or walls for their brittle esteem. They have mistakes, regrets, blemishes and scars. In a sense, they’re covered in rags and soot, trapped in slavery to their own failings. In many ways, they are similar to Cinderella.
Society, like Cinderella’s stepsisters, constantly reminds them how they’re never enough as it invents new tasks and hurdles for them. It tells them, “If you can achieve this, then…”
Then they will be acceptable. Then they can attend the ball.
Everyone in one way or another wants to be Cinderella.
We all want to be beautiful in spite of the grime that covers us—in spite of all we’ve experienced or done. Cinderella, we are told, was even beautiful in her rags. What more could we want other than this beauty in brokenness?
If only beauty could go beyond the grime. If only someone saw it and, like the Prince, sought it. We long to know we have something worth value, worth seeking. When Cinderella was found, the Prince still loved her; the dirt on her face and the rags on her body didn’t matter to him.
I believe you would call this “unconditional love.”
Isn’t this what we desire? Someone who loves us in spite of the soot and scars, in spite of the past, seeing us for who we are and finding something to value. Someone who takes us as we are and rescues us from our slavery.
We have these desires for a reason—and not to turn us to other humans. The deepest longing of our heart is for God. Who is a better Cinderella prince than Jesus? Who can show us greater unconditional love?
Christ died for us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). He loves in spite of the grime and He came to save. He sought us. He sought you. Scars and all.
True, it’s not the same as human love. It’s better. Only with Christ can we truly live “happily ever after.” Even Cinderella couldn’t do better.