I love the story of Cinderella. At my wedding I walked down the aisle in a ball gown to the song, ‘A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes’. Cinderella’s fairy tale appeals to women of all ages. Her story is beloved because it speaks to the very real desires many women hold in their hearts. I love different versions of the film, from ‘Ever After’ to the cartoon Disney classic, but in this post, I'm writing about the recent live action film. As you’ll read, Cinderella’s story captivates us because deep down inside we share her longings.
1) We want freedom from our attics
Cinderella’s stepmother manipulated her into moving to the attic. The film shows the daunting staircase leading to a dark, cold room. The room was so cold that Cinderella often slept near the kitchen fire. The ashes or cinders fell from the fire as she slept, thus giving her step-sisters reason to mockingly call her Cinderella. Although Cinderella was isolated, part of her was thankful for the refugee. The attic was a safe place to hide from ridicule and harassment. We all have our hiding places. When we feel rejected, ashamed and afraid we retreat to our dark cold rooms. Maybe we hide behind a computer screen, or find refuge in the shelves of our fridges or the aisles of a store. Like Cinderella, we get trapped in hiding places that become prisons void of hope. Like Cinderella, we wait for freedom to come.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance.
Psalm 32:7 (NASB)
2) We want to be seen for who we truly are
A woman longs to be seen by the people that matter in her life. We want to be known for our authentic selves. When the King’s right hand man goes to the attic to free Cinderella, she knows the time has come to see her love. Before she greets the Prince, now a King, she pauses in the mirror to look at herself. The narrator says, ‘This is the moment she’ll be seen for who she is.’ Isn't this what we all desire? This moment though exciting is also scary for Cinderella. This is the moment she’ll know if a simple country girl is good enough for a regal leader. Although many of us have never met royalty, we know how it feels to want acceptance from someone. We desire others to not only see us, but to love what they see, weaknesses and all.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV)
3) We desire to be chosen
My favorite scene is the one in which Cinderella enters the ballroom and pauses at the staircase. The room seems to stop and everyone takes notice. The prince sees Cinderella and is mesmerized by her. The prince could have danced with anyone, but he chose her. Being chosen is a powerful thing. Many of us go through life feeling like we’re being passed by. Perhaps you didn't get into the college you wanted or maybe you completed your home study for adoption but your family hasn't been picked. We long to be chosen because it makes us feel unique and special. When the Prince singles out Cinderella, our hearts soar because we long to be called out and chosen.
God chose us to be in a relationship with Him even before He laid out plans for this world;
He wanted us to live holy lives characterized by love, free from sin, and blameless before Him.
Ephesians 1:4 (The Voice)
4) We want to be fought for
The Prince was committed to find Cinderella, regardless of what it cost him. He was willing to fight for her, because He knew she was worth it. This moves the heart of a woman. We want someone to fight for us. Maybe we want our husband to pursue our hearts or desire our parents to make a better effort to understand us. If a relationship is in trouble, we want the person we care for to work to sustain it. In an intense moment of the film, the prince, now a King revealed himself as part of the royal troop sent to look for Cinderella. It was at the time Cinderella’s voice was heard upstairs, and one of the King’s men wanted to just walk away. The King showed his face and let it be known, he wasn't going anywhere. He cared for Cinderella enough to make the search to find her, his top priority. We want to be fought for with this type of passion and commitment.
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
Exodus 14:14 (NIV)
5) We long for transformation
It’s a splendid moment when Cinderella’s fairy godmother waves her wand and turns her ripped dress into a beautiful blue flowing gown. We adore Cinderella’s transformation for the same reasons we like beauty makeovers, weight lost stories and home improvement shows. The famous Italian Renaissance artist, Michelangelo believed every block of stone had a statue inside of it, and it was the task of the sculptor to discover it. He once said, 'I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.' Don’t we all long for our inner beauty to be unveiled? Cinderella’s transformation revealed the beauty that was already inside. The makeover didn't change who Cinderella was, it just allowed others to take notice. Many of us are on our own journeys of transformation. Perhaps we are growing weary in the journey. How amazing would it be to have a fairy Godmother wave a wand and get us in physical shape, fulfill our resolutions and magically make us more disciplined? Although it doesn't work that way, transformation is still possible and attainable.
Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind.
As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.
Romans 12:2 (The Voice)
6) We want justice for our sufferings
The human heart longs for justice after suffering. We desire for our wrongs to be made right. When a tragic crime is committed, the kindest people will cry for a judge to give out the hardest sentence. Many of us have dealt with sufferings and mistreatment. We rejoice when Cinderella is rescued and her stepmother and stepsisters are punished. Good has triumphed over evil, giving us hope that it will do the same in our lives.
Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.
For the Lord is a God of justice.
Blessed are all who wait for him!
Isaiah 30:18-19 (NIV)
7) We desire strength of character
As Cinderella is leaving her stepmothers house with the King, she turns around and says, ‘I forgive you.' What a powerful moment! Cinderella’s willingness to forgive is a sign of the strength of her character. All throughout the film we see Cinderella is a humble, loving and strong woman. Cinderella is not a weak girl, timid and waiting to be rescued. She’s a meek girl, who shows controlled strength through challenging circumstances. We want to be women who through the struggles of life, exhibit moral courage, joy and hope. Cinderella’s stepmother suffered trials of loss, but because she lacked character her trials made her bitter and vengeful. As women we want our trials to refine us, allowing us to mature.
We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love.
Romans 5:3-5 (The Voice)
8) We want to be treated as royalty
Chivalry isn't dead. Women want to be treasured. Most women aren't asking to be treated like pampered princesses. They simply want to be treated as the valuable people they are. My husband opens the car door for me. It’s a little act, but it means a lot. Few people would dare belittle or disrespect a Ruler’s wife or even their boss’s spouse. We tend to be careful to treat people in authority with respect. Yet every woman is worthy of respect, regardless of who she is. To be treated with royalty, is to be treated with dignity and honor. What woman wouldn't want that?
And you will be the crowning glory of the Eternal’s power,
a royal crown cradled in His palm and held aloft by your God for all to see.
Isaiah 62:3 (The Voice)
9) We long to be cherished by our fathers
Cinderella’s dad adored her. Her father’s love is what helped mold Cinderella into the woman she was. Her father’s love is also what caused Cinderella’s stepmother to be fueled with jealousy. Perhaps her stepmother never experienced a father’s love. The Stepsisters were also without a living father. Maybe their haughtiness and immaturity stemmed from that lack. Fathers are essential, though many of us have grown up without their presence in our lives. Women long for loving, strong fathers that will make us feel cherished and protected.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
Psalm 68:5 (NIV)
10) We long to change the world
Cinderella went from serving her stepsisters to sitting at the King’s side as his Queen. Queens have power, authority and the ability to make changes in their kingdom. Cinderella makes a great Queen because of her compassionate heart. Most of us will never hold a royal position. However most of us desire to make a difference in the world around us. We may be called to teach inner city kids, counsel marriages or get involved in politics.Whatever our calling, we must do it with all our hearts. Women have the power to change the world for themselves and their families.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.”
Matthew 5:14-16 (ESV)
As we can see from Cinderella's story, great lessons are found in fairy tales. As we see in the Bible, our greatest desires are ultimately found in God. This is why I love being a princess at heart, who's really a daughter of a heavenly King.