The story of Cinderella is widely considered to be the ultimate romance. Ordinary but deserving girl falls on hard times, is magically turned into a prom queen, and captures the heart of a prince over the course of one enchanted evening. Ahhhh.
The problem with Cinderella and her fairy-tale romance is that her whole relationship with the prince is built on a lie. Charming (one assumes that must have been his given name—and really, what were his parents thinking?) assumes that she is one of the nobility (which, technically, she was), and therefore worthy of his love. I can’t imagine it was a very deep love, considering he was bowled over by her beauty and probably didn’t think to consider her character, but that’s something to ponder at another time.
Cinderella, naturally enough, doesn’t actually say, “Hang on there, big fella, there are a few things you need to know about me before things get too serious.” I don’t blame her too much for that—after all, it was him or the scullery and doing the royal family wave generally beats washing dishes. However, rather than be exposed for who she really is, she sprints away, leaving the fabled glass slipper behind.
I don’t know about you, but while I would love to fantasize that some charming prince of a guy would be blown away by my beauty, I would rather be wooed by someone who still loved me on those days when I don’t look so hot. After all, what’s going to happen when Cindy’s had a few heirs to the throne, put on a little weight, collected a few wrinkles? Is Charming going to be so charming then?
Personally, I like the opera version of the story better. In it, Cinderella has matching bracelets rather than glass slippers. When the prince proposes at the ball, she turns him down flat. (Gutsy girl!) To soften the blow, she hands him one of the bracelets and says, “Come find me. If you still want me when you know who I really am, then I’ll marry you.” Of course, he does, she does, and it all ends in a burst of glorious singing.
But back to the problem with Cinderella. (The story, not the character.) Here’s the good news. Jesus is not Prince Charming. He knows exactly who we are, good and bad, and he loves us anyway. We don’t have to pretend to be someone we’re not with him. That doesn’t stop us from trying, but it’s wasted effort since he knows better anyway.
Lisa Harper says the gospel message is like a Cinderella story where the ugly stepsister gets the prince. Because unlike sweet, kind, worthy Cinderella, we don’t deserve to go to the ball. But we’re invited anyway. We don’t even need singing mice to make a gown. All we have to do is accept the invitation.
And then we really will live happily ever after.