Lessons from Cinderella

 

I went through a phase, in my Christian walk, of avoiding many secular offerings. These days I still avoid a lot of TV shows and movies (mainly because I find certain genres too triggering). But now my ability to trust God and my desire to understand His heart toward the world, and toward me, is stronger than it was prior. The growth I’ve experienced in my faith has lessened the ‘avoid out of fear’ and turned it more into a ‘everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial’ (1 Corinthians 10:23) standpoint. And so I don’t restrict myself from something that draws me in, yet I will definitely take note of any occult references, secular humanism, and glaringly obviously lack of Jesus in most of what the world puts forth. It is to be expected, so why get upset over it? If I were to do that I’d be upset 24/7 because those things are everywhere.

A few times God has used some bit of dialogue, from a movie or overheard conversation, to hammer home a point that I needed to take to heart. To effectively peel another onion layer in the ongoing recovery from past child abuse. If Elijah could be fed by blackbirds (unclean animals that were to be avoided) then perhaps God’s people of today can also be ‘fed’ life-giving food from an unclean source as well.

And that is good, because one of the side effects of being physically unwell for several years is that I have a lot of what I call ‘couch time’. I prefer reading but there are days when even holding a book in my hands is too much. On those days I watch what I can find on Cable or Netflix. And so: I recently caught an adaptation of Disney’s Cinderella while channel surfing.

I was immediately drawn in.

Cinderella was one of my favorite fairy tales as a young child–one that I pored over again and again. At the time I didn’t realize that my own siblings and extended family members were abusing me, (by preschool age I had already learned to blame myself for that treatment). Which is why the idea of Cinderella being magically rescued out of an abusive home life, in which she was literally trapped, captivated me. It was so close to my own story–though I didn’t fully make that connection until recently.

My own family members gave me several unkind nicknames in my childhood, just like ‘Cinderella’ was the result of a mocking nickname. My bedroom was squalor filled and rodents were very real to me (though I did NOT befriend them). I was put into a caretaker role of the adults around me at a very young age and later when I was nearly an adult, both of my parents ensured their own financial and other securities, at the expense of my own. But just like a fairy tale– just in the nick of time I found a handsome prince and we set out on our own, purposely making our path very different from the lives we knew as children. To quote from another movie (Pretty Woman) — when the prince climbed the tower to rescue the woman, the woman rescued him right back. That’s pretty much the story of my life and marriage. We rescued each other and then wrote our own story with intentionality and love.

Point being: my life path mimics that of a fictional Cinderella. It took some time to break the financial bondages that also ensued; but in time they were broken. And like a fairy tale princess- I’ve always wanted pretty things to wear and to fill up my home…and my husband and I both worked very hard to achieve that.

We now have most of the things we wanted. And that can be fun. But: it’s just mammon. It can’t buy you peace of mind or salvation. It also can’t ensure you have good health (sigh). And I’ve learned that even financial success, a lot like health status, is all ‘relative’. Compared to some we are ‘rich’ and compared to others: we have very little. There will never be ‘enough’ to satisfy even the richest amongst us. I have found that it really is better to have a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred. (Proverbs 15:17). But that doesn’t stop me from wanting the fattened calf with love; regardless. I also would love to see all my health issues reverse…❤️

And so the combination of physical illness and the guilt, unease, and ongoing trauma ramifications from my past sometimes keep me from fully enjoying that fairy tale ‘life’, that fattened calf existence, that one might assume someone like me has — looking in at my current ‘outward appearances’.

Which is why I find it so deliciously ironic that watching a movie about a fairy tale that I really identify with, left me with two very good ‘nuggets’ of wisdom to carry forward. To ease the guilt and the trauma effects. To lighten my load.

(Spoiler alerts follow–stop reading if you want to watch the movie unspoiled!) In the film, when Cinderella first meets the Prince he inquires about her family’s treatment of her. And she responds (paraphrasing and this may be a little bit off!)

“They treat me as well as they are able.”

Woah. What wisdom there. Abusive sorts simply aren’t able to show kindness and love. I know this, but the temptation to blame myself or to make excuses for them remains. In reality, they treated me as well as they were able and for whatever reason — unconditional love was simply not in their ability to give.

I was bracing myself to not like the ending. I was somewhat expecting that the stepsisters and stepmother would be reformed at the end and allowed to live the castle life they so desperately desired–since that has become the expected new ending to old fairy tales–where the bad guys turn out to be good guys, etc.

Instead, the ending was brilliant. And something that I wish the Christian church understood better. Within the church we focus so much on outward appearances and looking the part that we no longer have a clear understanding of the differences between forgiveness and reconciliation. Reconciliation is too often expected as a kind of proof of forgiveness–with the burden of bearing that proof put on the offended, rather than the offender. But while forgiveness is a scriptural command, no where in Scripture are we told to reconcile to unrepentant and unchanged people. In fact, we are warned against that!

In the closing scenes Cinderella verbally expresses her forgiveness to her stepmother and sisters, right before leaving her childhood home a final time. (I almost did an eye-roll as I knew that one was coming.)

But then the narrator added, “Though she forgave her stepmother and stepsisters, they were banished from the kingdom forever.”

I can’t tell you how much my soul needed the affirmation that forgiveness does not have to equal reconciliation.

Particularly with people who have not changed.

Author: justsaltwriter

Life has given me clearer skies and much better mental health. Therefore I felt it was time to overhaul my blog. Some old posts remain, as do a few followers. Other posts may be revived in the future. Thanks for being there for me while I walked through the fog of abuse. ❤️

8 thoughts on “Lessons from Cinderella”

  1. Have you seen the Cinderella version with Drew Barrymore titled: Ever After? Also very good I thought. Angelica Houston is perfection as the evil stepmother. I have found interesting mimics of the gospel in odd places. The Chronicles of Riddick was one. The premise of this movie is, ‘join us or die’. To me, the bad guys represent the world, our culture, etc. trying to brainwash us into believing they are gods and to abandon independent or ‘alter’ identities. They go form planet to planet absorbing life or destroying it. One man can save everyone. Hmmmm sounds familiar. I’ll check this version of Cinderella out from the library. I had avoided it until now but your review of it has intrigued me enough to want to watch it.

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    1. Thank Melissa! I have not seen the other version of Cinderella but I am intrigued now! And yes, it is strange how the gospel (or some form of it) shows up in so many places. I want to check out the Chronicles of Riddick now too, sounds fascinating. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      1. I just finished watching the Cinderella movie you mentioned in your blog. Loved it!. My husband even cried!! It was very well done. Thank you.

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  2. Wow, when young, I identified a lot with Cinderella too, though like you I internalised self blame and didn’t know I was being abused. I’ll have to check out that movie… 🙂 In the original version, not the one children are usually taught, Cinderella’s abusers are tortured, which is pretty dark.

    As a teenager, it was Harry Potter since he lived in a closet under the stairs! Even though I had to read it in secret because it had magic. But my parents allowed Tolkien and Narnia despite the magic since their authors were well known Christians. Still enjoy them.

    I grew up Christian and now am a secular humanist. I hope that’s OK with you 🙂 These days I find I’ve much more in common with certain religious humanists (eg those who believe in a god of lobe rather than wrath) than the types my parents are.

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    1. That’s so interesting that you also connected with Cinderella!! Something about that fairy tale must be pretty special ❤️😊 I didn’t realize the original version was so grim. Wow. I’ll need to do some more research into that sometime.
      I am not too familiar with Harry Potter, never did get into that series- but he was an orphan, correct? I also connect a lot with orphan characters in literature/movies– in some ways I consider myself orphaned even though my parents are still alive. So any time I find a character who has lost parents/caretakers, it resonates on many levels.
      I think everyone has a right to believe what they want and so I am ‘good’ with you being a secular humanist.
      I do believe in a God of love, and believe I know some ‘types’ who must believe like your parents do (in an angry God), though I can also see how at times wrath can be a form of love — to me apathy is the opposite of love but that’s a deep thought and hard to flesh out in a comment section, LOL! Please know you are welcome here on my blog — even if our beliefs are not the exact same, and I wish you peace on your healing journey!!

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      1. Yup, Harry is an orphan and he lives with abusive relatives who mistreat him. I think sometimes he was starved too and like a male Cinderella.

        I agree, apathy is the opposite of love.

        I’m glad to learn about your own healing journey through your words! ❤

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  3. I love this! Though I try to steer clear of things that are super gruesome or sexual, etc., I do enjoy some secular movies and TV. Like you, I just analyze it through my Christian lens, noting how I would handle the situation in real life, whether the movie is subtly supporting something amoral (like the misunderstood wife having an affair with the man who “really gets her”), etc. The lessons that forgiveness and reconciliation don’t necessarily equate is really good and an important distinction. The closing statement about forgiving them but still banishing them forever is pretty clever.

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