God's Love for Us is a Fairy Tale Come True
Sometimes it takes a movie to help me see a Gospel truth.
It had been a particularly ragged day of parenting. The hubs was working night shift, my one year old son was restless with teething and being juuust about to walk, and my three year old daughter was being, well, three.
After wrestling, I mean, SWEETLY TUCKING, everyone into bed, I collapsed in front of the television, tired and angry. I chose the fluffiest movie I could find and settled into watching Disney’s The Princess Diaries. I was ready to fantasize about running away from home and becoming a princess in a far-off land.
Plus, I love the makeover scene where awkward teenager Mia Thermopolis is transformed into the beautiful princess of Genovia. Heck, I wanted a makeover.
Before long I realized the movie was about much more than fantasy. I’d forgotten about how Mia has to transform, not just from normal high schooler to royalty, but from afraid little girl to a woman who accepts responsibility and her role as a leader.
After a few days of embarrassing etiquette mishaps and paparazzi stunts, Mia learns that being a princess is not all balls and tiaras. Being a leader is difficult and confusing and she reaches a point where she is ready to run; abdicate her right to the throne and return to her normal life. However, her friend and chauffeur Joseph gives her a different perspective that changes her mind. “No one can stop being who they are, princess. Not even a princess. You are a princess by birth.”
The quote stayed with me even after I fell asleep on the couch (because #motherhood). I am so much like Mia. Motherhood is so much like royalty (stay with me, everybody!).
Prior to becoming a mother I knew that being a mom was important, like royalty. My own mother had instilled in me a high respect for the role, affirming its significance in raising the next generation. I read books that sent the same message. So when I became pregnant, I was excited and ready to change the world with my brilliant parenting strategies and incredible sense of vision.
Within two weeks after my daughter was born (and many times since) I was ready to give up. Motherhood is so much more than pretty showers and colorful cupcakes. It is often difficult and confusing in its day-to-day responsibilities. Often I do not want to be the one in charge, and like Mia I want to abdicate my home throne and run away.
And like Mia, I am called to grow up and become a real princess, a real leader, not of a country but of my little family.
In spiritual terms, I am called to realize that as a child of God, the King of all, I am a princess.
When I own my identity as a princess, as royalty, something is allowed to grow and mature in me. I don’t have to stay an afraid and defeated teenager in the face of responsibility (though I feel it some days); I can become a leader to my little ones. I find, like Mia, I am allowed to then become braver and stronger because I know who I am and Whose daughter I am.
I think of I Peter 2:9:
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (ESV)
We are royalty. Princesses by birth.
The day after watching the movie I asked my daughter to play dress up with me—something we had never done before. I had kept her from much dress up and princess-play, fearing a sense of overblown self-centered importance in her young brain. I have no desire to raise a girl who only wants to be rescued by a prince!
Instead, we played for a different reason; a Gospel truth I DO want her to know.
“Did you know God thinks of us as princesses?” I asked, as we swirled on scarves and floppy summer hats. “He is THE King, and we are His daughters, so we are as important as princesses!”
My daughter tugged on an oversized sun hat. “I’m beautiful!” she laughed. “Take my picture!”
She totally gets it.
I’ve even started dressing everyone up for church more, too. Our church is very casual and come-as-you-are, and we’ve more than adhered to that grace-alone principle by showing up in Chacos and jeans, but I’ve decided I want to think about my identity, and my kids to think about their identity, in a deeper way. “We’re wearing pretty clothes because God thinks we are important,” I say, stepping into a dress and helping my daughter into her tunic and tights (no stains or holes!). “God thinks you and I are princesses, and so we get to dress like one and remember who we are.”
God’s love for us is a fairy tale come true, and one we get to live.
Of course, motherhood is full of hard and frumpy days—the toddler years especially seem determined to thwart attempts at basic hygiene. Tiredness and exhaustion wear social graces thin. Nevertheless, we as mothers can learn to embrace our home thrones, dwelling on the truth of our God-given inheritance as royal daughters, and grow into the brave leaders we are called to be in our families.
For me, that’s the real makeover I need.
A writer with a background in journalism, public relations, grant writing and English studies, Laura Beth Payne lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband and two toddlers. She is currently immersed in cooking, photographing and journaling through Shauna Niequist’s delicious cookbook memoir Bread and Wine on her blog Home + Word. Connect with her for inspiration, funny stories, and lots and lots of food photos on Instagram.