This week, we celebrated a lovely little girl’s birthday. My daughter and I went to choose a gift for her and decided on a tiara, tutu, and princess shoes. What could be more suitable for a beautiful 4-year-old princess?
While we sometimes balk at the idea of stereotyping and conforming to culture (especially our children), to say she was excited is an understatement. As soon as she opened her present, the tiara and shoes were donned. This little girl was a princess. A princess aware of the beauty within her and completely reveling in it.
Princesses are associated with kindness, grace, and generosity. They reflect a beauty that comes from deep within them. Traditionally though, they fulfill the role of ‘one who needs rescuing.’
In history, women have been stereotyped in the same way. Women have sometimes been taught that they are weak, of the lesser gender, and should take the subservient role. Women have had to work harder than men to prove their worth.
Our femininity, something we gain by right of being a woman, has been considered a weakness, and emotionally incapable of making rational decisions. Women have been objectified and put in the corner. The very core of our identity, those soft and beautiful aspects of our nature, became a bondage to us.
Fortunately, after centuries of this paradigm, women have fought back and revealed a character that is strong, determined and trailblazing. Women in the past century have rightly fought long and hard to proclaim equality and bring freedom from the oppression and bondage that has been a part of our patristic heritage. Thinking and societal expectations have changed. Not only do women have the innate characteristics of softness, gentleness and nurturing natures, but we are fierce.
Teaching our daughters that they are worthy is vital to understanding their value as people. Sadly though, it seems we have now moved to the other extreme.
In gaining our equality, it’s been difficult to retain our vulnerability. To be vulnerable may expose weakness, and weakness is to need rescuing. This understanding of the ‘weak’ princess, is even used demeaningly in our culture. When you call someone a princess today, it means ‘stop being so prissy, toughen up.’ As if there is something unacceptable about that.
Today we are superwomen; we can do anything, we are awesome, we are tough, we are strong, we are independent, we can do it, and we can do it by ourselves if we need to. We don’t need anyone else, because ‘Girl, I’ve got this’.
And while all of this is true; when it is twisted, it causes us to suppress our vulnerability, cover our weaknesses, toughen up our softness. It causes us to push away that princess, push away those childhood dreams associated with the princess, of happily-ever-after and true love.
Revealing a longing for a hero to ‘save the day’, that often comes with the stereotypical princess, is absolutely frowned upon by the current ‘modern girl’. Revealing a deep desire to meet your prince is deemed unnecessary and out-of-date.
And, it’s a jungle out there.
When we’ve waited for, or even tried to force the fairy tale by placing our dreams of true love in the hands of another, we’ve often come away hurt, dejected, rejected and even abused. We’ve been disappointed and let down. We’ve eventually hardened our hearts, and chased the dreams away.
Yes, the fallacy that our heart can be found in another is a noble pursuit, sometimes so difficult to obtain that we let it go forever.
At Bible College, I created a tract that went along the lines of, ‘Are you looking for true love? Well, you can have it! True love is not a fairy tale for children. Prince Charming is for real. His Name is Jesus.’
Only by recognising it is the Prince of Peace who can fulfill us, will the dream of true love truly find its fulfillment. No other person can love us in the way He does.
Without the Prince of Peace, we are unable to truly meet the deep longings of ravishing love within our hearts. Instead of letting Love in, we’ve covered over our longings and let the candle die out.
I realise that this is not always a readily accepted viewpoint within the feminist realm. Boldly proclaiming that I need a Saviour to rescue me, is not what most women want to hear.
Especially this ‘Jesus’. Isn’t the Bible patristic through and through? That’s the argument I hear. But no, my Jesus respects, honours and dignifies women. In His kingdom, there is neither male nor female, all are different, but all are equal. Jesus, during His life, gave women a voice and dignity in a time and space that no one else would have considered plausible.
Jesus loved Mary, the prostitute.
He was besties with Mary and Martha (and Lazarus).
He stood up to the Pharisees when they sought to stone a woman caught in the act of adultery (the man was not held responsible).
He allowed Mary to worship Him in a space socially unacceptable to welcome women.
He encouraged women to join Him in His work, His own mother was a prominent character in the Jesus’ narratives. Jesus is for women. (Just for the record, there were a fair few different Marys in the New Testament!)
Jesus teaches us that we are princesses of a royal tribe.
We do know a Prince. The Prince of Peace, the Lover of our Soul, the Prince who has disarmed anyone that will tell us otherwise.
He is our Security, our Redeemer, our Kinsman, our Saviour. He is our Lover, our Steady Rock, our Bridegroom.
Psalm 45 tells us that we are the princess, clothed in gold, ready to enter into the chambers of our Bridegroom.
The Song of Solomon boasts of the passion, romance and intimacy found with the Prince. Jesus is that Prince and He calls us into this passion. He longs to romance us and treat us like royalty.
Today, do not harden your hearts, but choose again to trust in the dreams of a princess.
The ideal is alive. While it looks more like the Paperbag Princess today, don’t allow culture to steal away Snow White, if that’s how you’re inclined.
True Love always has been and will only ever be found in the warmth and embrace of Jesus’ scarred hands. The Hero paid the price. He shed the blood and overcame the enemy.
He won our hearts.
The great story, the great hope, hasn’t died.
His Name, His Royal Name, is Jesus.