The Hope of the Ugly Stepsisters

Recently, I found myself watching the faces of my two daughters as they were watching Disney’s latest Cinderella (2015), starring Lilly James. Empathy, love and desire consumed their expressions as they watched Cinderella continually doing as her dying mother wished, to “have courage and be kind”. My girls walked in Cinderella’s shoes, glass slippers and all, seeing themselves as having all the courage and kindness of Cinderella. Their faces blushed in pleasure as the Prince, their prince, pursued them, I mean, Cinderella. The Prince, captivated by Cinderella’s courage and kindness, could not help but be drawn to her. And when the evil stepmother and her daughters, received their fate from the newly engaged Cinderella, my girls looked on with dignity and forgiveness, the way Cinderella looked upon the women who had done everything in their power to make life miserable for her. At the closing scene, my girls let out a satisfied sigh, for all was as it should be, and I could only imagine how their minds hoped their story’s would end in such a way, someday, somehow.

As I saw them leave the couch, I had a Miss Clavel moment, saying to myself, “Something is not right”. There was something the fairytale got wrong. My girls were walking away with the wrong picture. So, I told them a twisted fairytale.

What if the Prince, instead of pursing Cinderella, pursued Anastasia or Drisella? They are both complete cowards and utterly unkind. There is nothing beautiful or desirable about them. They are thirsty for nothing save their own gain and prosperity. “Aletheia and Haddie” I told them, “ you are Anastasia and Drisella. That is the bad news.”

The story of the gospel is scandalous. It is breathtaking in its unexpectedness. The Prince ran after Anastasia and Drisella, in all their ugliness. And this is our story. Our fairytale is a twisted one; a scandalous affair. How can it be that One, so courageous and so kind, would give his very life for one so lost and so ruined, and make this very one His bride.

Cinderella’s dying mother had great hope in her child, that she could indeed have courage and be kind. It is the exact hope I saw in the eyes of my daughters. They, too, thought they could be courageous and kind. And in so doing, they thought that they deserve Cinderella’s prince. But their story is far, far richer than Cinderella’s. Cowardice and unkindness run through their veins. And yet, they, Anastasia and Drisella, I mean, Aletheia and Haddie, find themselves being pursued by the Prince of Peace. For them, He gave his life that he might present them holy and blameless before His Father, the High King of Heaven. The Prince did not come for Cinderella, he did not come for the courageous and kind of this world. He came for ruined sinners, like Anastasia and Drisella. And this is the good news, the gospel.

But, of course, our story does not end here. The love of the Prince changes those He loves. He makes his bride beautiful. Not Hollywood beautiful, but gospel beautiful. By His power and for His glory and our good, we find ourselves transformed into His likeness, a beauty whose shape and form far surpasses any fading, Cinderella beauty of this world. So, Aletheia and Haddie, do not settle for a Cinderella story. See yourself as Anastasia and Drisella, for whom your Prince has given His life, that you might be His bride. This is your story. And it is no fairytale. It is the truth of the gospel. And your Prince is Jesus.

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