Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do You Think I'm Beautiful ... Standing And Smiling And Grooving From The Edge

This section of the book recounts the Cinderella story; the ugly and evil stepsisters, the mean and nasty stepmother. And beautiful, luxuriant Cinderella. Sure, she needed a little bibbity-bobbity to make her fancy, but she was truly the belle of the ball. From the moment she walked in, The Prince only had eyes for her. He saw in her the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, wearing the most lovely gown that could be made, and surely dancing in the very most effeminate and classy way imaginable. She was his dream bride, and he danced with her alone, all night ... That is, until the she had to go. And he was so completely smitten with her that when she ran from him without even mentioning her name so that he might find her again, he was perfectly willing to try her one lost shoe on EVERY SINGLE WOMAN in his kingdom ... just to find her and hold her again.

Are you Cinderella? I didn't think I was. And Angela Thomas wasn't either when she was growing up. Maybe she still isn't today, who knows. Why? Because Cinderella is beautiful. She is stunning. Her hair is perfect, her gown is elegant, her body is slender and shapely. Her face was surely alluring, and I'm sure her hands were dainty and smooth in spite of the hard labor she lived with. And that's not me, I am none of those things. I've got calloused hands from carrying the baby carrier, I'm not slender or shapely. My face is all right, but nothing even close to alluring. I am not stunning, and maybe I am not beautiful, either. Not to me. Probably not to you.

Angela writes: " Now tell me, when you think of yourself in this story, which character do you allow yourself to become? Where are you standing at the ball? I would love it if you thought of yourself as Cinderella. I have tried on those slippers but have never been able to bring myself to believe that I should be dancing in her shoes. I have never thought of myself as a stepsister or the evil stepmother either. Somehow, I have always seen myself as one of the faceless in the crowd. One of the girls from the kingdom who gave it her best shot, spent days optimistically preparing for the ball, splurged on the dress and the hair, and anxiously arrived with butterflies in her stomach, only to stand around with the other hopefuls, make small talk, smile politely, groove to the music, and remain unnoticed."

I agree with that totally. I was never the stepmother, or the stepsisters. But I have never ever felt like Cinderella, either. I have always been one of the nameless, one of the faceless, one of the wallflowers not even worth more than a cursory mention. I've always been one of the blurry people around the sides of the room while Cinderella and The Prince danced gracefully across the pages of the book.

And then Angela truly wrote words right out of my own heart. It's a lot to quote here in full without legal permission, so here are a few little bits:

  • "Oh, I want to be Cinderella. I want to be the most beautiful woman at the ball, but I've never been bold enough to think of myself as her."
  • "There is a little girl inside me who secretly aches for a fairy godmother to magically bumble her way into my life, wave her wand, and make me into the princess I have always longed to be. Make me beautiful. Make me captivating. Make someone notice."
  • "But life is not a fairy tale. Magic wands are only for pretending. Cinderella shoes are mass-produced by the millions for the tiny feet of little girls who still believe Prince Charming will ask them to dance. Grown-up women wear sensible shoes, put their ball gowns in storage, and teach themselves to believe that being asked to dance isn't all that important anyway."
  • "And so I have spent way too many years standing around the edge of my life trying to convince myself that I do not want to be Cinderella. Pretending that I didn't really come to dance. I have concocted a few lies to make life hurt less and then forced myself to live them. Besides, glass slippers probably pinch your toes."
This isn't the first time I've read this small bit of this book but when I read it the first time, it inspired so much thought in me as I read that I found I couldn't really keep up with myself. Having just had Piglet and being very busy getting used to being mommy to two children, I eventually put the book away, planning to pick it up and try again, planning to record these thoughts inspired by such a beautiful book. I have barely begun page seven, and I am amazed by all the thought going on here as I force myself to slow down and take time to meditate and hear God speak to me through these pages ... as I take time to hear my own thoughts above the noise of daily life.

This particular section made me cry a little the first time I read it, and I was glad that at that moment I was alone other than Piglet sleeping in my lap. It gave me just a little time to reflect, and in that short few minutes I realized a few things. I have lied to myself too, pretending that being Cinderella was nothing to shake a stick at. That she wasn't really that great, and that all the crap she put up with in the beginning of the story wasn't much worth it just to get a man.

But I'm not a good liar when I lie to me. I see right through me. And I know how much I, too, long to be Cinderella. Not the Cinderella in the dirty dress by the hearth, and not the one struggling to make lovely things for her family who so mistreated her only to watch their backs as they left her behind.

I want to be the Cinderella of the ball, adorned in fine things, in the arms of a handsome man who is strong and tall and beautiful, who adores me from the first instant. The Cinderella who isn't nameless or faceless. The one worth scouring the entire kingdom for, the one who's amazing loveliness gives The Prince enough patience to kneel in front of woman after woman, no matter how ugly, or how unfit she might be as his Princess ... just to find me. The intriguing belle of the ball who inspires such memories that The Prince would be patient enough to sit in front of a lowly housemaid in her rags and dirt-smudged cheeks, just to see if maybe she is the one. I want to be worth it.

Sound familiar? I'm sure to someone out there in the blogosphere, it does sound familiar. I'm sure I'm not the only one ... But here's a thought.

We have all been blind, and our Prince has been kneeling before us all our lives, begging us to accept Him. Because to Him, we are beautiful. And we are lovely. We are enchanting. And we are worth scouring the entire kingdom. Each and every one of us is worth it to our Prince. We are worth it in the eyes of our God, who sent His son to seek us out. And we are worth it in the eyes of Jesus, who died to make that glass slipper fit.

And it's time for us to put our dainty little feet in that glass slipper. To accept the only Prince who can truly love us and cherish us and spoil us the way we long to be loved and cherished and spoiled. And in the meantime until that Prince Jesus comes for us, we musn't settle any longer for any less than an earthly Prince who strives each day to be a good substitute. Then again, we also must learn to be graceful and charming, just as Cinderella would be.