It is Children’s Book Week and since I already talked about books earlier in the week, I thought I’d stay on the path.
My three year old loves stories of princesses and princes, almost a little more than I like. There are numerous articles encouraging parents to discourage the princess effect and princess adoration in their daughters. I occasionally wonder if I’ve ruined any chance she has at high self esteem, self confidence apart from a man, and so forth, already- at three years of age. Then I remember the sovereignty of God rules our lives, not the advice of child psychologists and writers. So I look for balance where I can, but I’ve been surprised to find incredible themes of truth paralleled in her princess stories.
Take the story of Beauty and the Beast. One night, while imagining ourselves into the Beauty and the Beast world, she stopped playing and started telling me about the story. Suddenly, she looked up and said, “Belle took her daddy’s place in the Beast’s cage, Mommy.” I stopped and said, “Yes, she did. Because she loved him.” Without reacting I casually said, “That is like the way Jesus took our place and died on the cross for our sin. Because He loved us so much.” She looked at me seriously, quietly thinking thoughts that I couldn’t read. I plowed ahead, “And Belle learned to love the Beast, just like he was, even though he was ugly and scary.”
I sat there on the bed with her, considering how clearly Belle loves like Christ. She takes the place of her beloved father. He is old, he will die anyway, but a young, intelligent woman gives up her life so that her father can go free. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 Then she loves the Beast because she sees beyond his gritty exterior and finds value beyond his monstrous persona. She believes there is something worth loving and saving there, just as Christ saw us. In the end of course, the father is saved, the Beast is transformed to a handsome prince, and love wins.
The other popular fairy tales, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, even the more recent adaptation of Frozen, have similar elements. There is always a character(s) in need. There is always a a character who saves. There is a character imprisoned and there is a character who sets free. There is a character who is deceived by evil. There is a character who undoes the effects of deception. There is a rescue, a fulfilled hope, and a happily ever after….Just as there is a needy people living on Earth and a loving God who meets our ultimate need thru the Cross. And, He will one day fulfill our hope, providing us with a happily ever after where Christ and His redeemed people will be united for all time.
Fairy tales linger in our broken world of dark art and literature. Deep down we long to hear about the hero and the rescued because we are aware of our own neediness. We crave the “happily ever after” because we long for the day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
I love that my daughter’s “comprehensive” knowledge of fairy tales has made the story of God’s love for us and Christ’s work of redemption easy to connect for her. I do not want her hope to be in men, but I do want her to hope in the man, Christ Jesus. PThe wonderful thing about the story of redemption is that it does not hide. It is not just a discussion for Sunday dinner. In our coming and going, we see themes of the gospel in something as simple as story about a princess and a monster. If the reality of Christ’s work on the cross propels us through each day, we will easily recognize how to share this beautiful redemption with our children.
*congratulations to Carol, winner of our Made For More giveaway!