Somewhere Beyond the Sea

As the day draws near for the official launch of Beyond Waiting, I find myself delving into the fairytales once more, comparing what the world tells me the stories are about (Prince Charming) with the adventure that comes before their “happily ever afters” – which, in case you didn’t know, is actually what the story is all about. So here I am, thinking about finding deeper meaning in the fairytales, when I come across a passage in Steven James’ Sailing Between the Stars that talks about a fish launching itself into the air:

“At first I thought it was somehow unnatural for fish to jump like that: They’re fish, right? They’re just supposed to swim in the water. After all, that’s what they’re made for. But as night fell and the starts began to bespeckle the sky, I realized that for a fish to leave the water isn’t breaking the rules at all – it’s just exploring the true extent of what it really means to be a fish.”

So, what do fish have to do with fairytales? Remember the Little Mermaid? You know… red-headed girl who trades her voice for a pair of legs? Yeah, that one. Now, the common misconception is that Ariel traded her fins for the sake of some guy, but that’s only partially true. See, long before her prince entered the scene, Ariel dreamed of a life outside of the sea. From the day she was able to poke her head above the surface, she was enraptured by the sun and the shore and the ships and the objects she’d never known existed. And from that moment on, the Little Mermaid dared to dream an impossible dream.

She yearned to trade her feet for fins – if only for a day. She longed to experience the life of a human – if only for a moment. Her friends and family told her she was crazy. They told her to get her head out of the… waves. She’s a mermaid. There are certain things that mermaids can’t do, and dance along the shore is one of them.

But somehow, Ariel found a way. She made great sacrifices – took an incredible risk – to pursue the dream that beat in her heart. Because Ariel, like the fish in Steven James’ story, knew that she was meant for more than merely swimming. And she dared to explore the full extent of what it means to live.

Maybe you, like myself, have been guilty of becoming content to stay beneath the waves. Maybe you’ve forgotten what it is to dream of the shore. Maybe you’ve allowed yourself to become consumed by the mundane task of flicking your fins back and forth, back and forth, propelling yourself along the currents of a life that doesn’t bring joy to your heart.

Let me remind you that, somewhere beyond what you may be able to see in this moment, there is a dream worth dreaming, a life worth living, and a vision worth sacrificing for. I pray you’ll find the courage to poke your head through the surface of the sky, fly like a fish, and dance along the shoreline of your dreams.

Five Years and Forever

Sometimes I think I’m the strangest young woman on the planet, or at least the most unusual. But here I am, nearly twenty years old, running from romantic relationships. Sometimes that fact makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with me. Even those women who have accepted their single status seem to yearn for that special someone. Don’t get me wrong. I do yearn for that special someone.  Someday. But for now I have embraced the fact that it isn’t time for him yet, and I refuse to let him be the focus of my thoughts. (Except for certain occasions, like as I write this now.)

My coworkers don’t believe me when I insist that, should Prince Charming walk through the doors of my office today, I’d send him right back out. Perhaps if they knew my reasons, they’d be the first to shut the door in his face. What my coworkers don’t realize is that I made a covenant with God several years ago. And a covenant with God is not something to be taken lightly.

It all started with my parents’ decision not to let me date until I was sixteen. Of course, by the time I actually turned sixteen, I had witnessed too many bad high school relationships. That wasn’t going to be my fate. I decided that my high school years must be meant for so much more than a dating relationship. With the encouragement of my mentor, I dedicated five years straight to seeking God alone. Five precious years to cultivate my relationship with Him without the distraction of any other.

Which is where I am today. I can’t believe how much time has passed, how much I’ve fallen in love with Jesus, and how much deeper I’m continuing to press into Him. It’s not like my time with Him is over. My five years are not yet up. But even when they end, though I will hopefully marry and raise a new generation of Jesus-lovers, I know that my covenant remains. I gave Jesus five years to prepare me to love Him forever.

It’s not because I’m unusual (though that’s up for debate); it’s because I’m called. Jesus has drawn me to Himself for such a time as this. For now He is my greatest love, and my greatest love He shall remain… Five years and forever.

Enchanted Lessons

Enchanted is one of my all-time favorite Disney movies. Being the fairytale fanatic that I am, I absolutely love that there are fairytale classics hidden throughout the movie. But what I love most about the whimsical character of Giselle is that she’s wrong. This “perfect” fairytale character made a mistake. She set her eyes on the wrong Prince and almost didn’t realize it until it was too late.

See, Giselle had been waiting for her Prince for so long that she nearly settled for the first one who arrived on the scene. But she wasn’t made to “finish Edward’s duet”; she was meant to be with Robert. But day after day, she cries, “Edward is coming for me. Edward this… and Edward that…”

I think Giselle represents the typical single woman. We so often set our gaze in the wrong direction. Because we are searching so hard for Prince Charming, we fail to notice that our true Prince has been at our side all along. And while He’s trying to talk some sense into our fantasy-filled heads, we’re too busy singing about “true love’s kiss” to notice.

In my opinion, Enchanted is all about finding a healthy balance between our fairytale dreams and the cynical “welcome to reality” that can be the other extreme. So perhaps true love’s kiss isn’t the most powerful thing in the world, and maybe “happily ever after” is best left in the fairytales. But then again, maybe dreams really do come true, and Prince Charming really does exist – though perhaps not in the form you had expected.

Don’t miss your Prince. Don’t miss your purpose. Release your silly fantasies and realize that true love is closer than you think, because once upon a time, a great and glorious Prince stepped down from His throne with the intention of wooing His bride. For her, He would give His life. Look no farther, young maiden. Your Prince has already come. He has wooed you through the ages, and today He extends His hand and invites you into the dance of eternity. This is the moment you’ve dreamed of all your life. So what are you waiting for?

Before You Make Him Mine

It has been over ten months since I’ve prayed a heartfelt, in-depth prayer for my future husband. That may seem crazy to you as it does seem to go against every book you’ll find on waiting for Prince Charming. I thought I was crazy myself, at first. But it can’t be any more crazy than how crazy I felt back when I was faithfully praying for my knight in shining armor. I didn’t stop praying because I got the impression that the man I will one day marry is above falling, but because I know how prone I am to fall myself. When I was consistently praying for my future husband, I was constantly thinking about him. And because I thought of him so often, I got to a point where I wasn’t content with living without him. That’s why I dropped the specific prayers. That’s why I shredded the list of things I wanted in a husband. Maybe it’s the novelist in me, but when I write a guy out on paper, he becomes real and eventually becomes all I think about. But he shouldn’t be all I think about during this stage of my life.  That’s why when it comes to this delicate subject of waiting, I decided to, well, stop waiting. If I’m going to live in this moment here and now, I can’t be dwelling on a future with him.

I told my mom that she is simply going to have to pray twice as hard because I can’t offer those deep, intercessory prayers that I’ve been advised to pray. I find them to be detrimental to my emotional health. Yes, I have those moments like the one I had ten months ago. Sometimes I get the compelling urge to pour my heart out in prayer for this man I have yet to know. I don’t ignore those urges. In those types of moments, I pray long and hard. But as far as the daily moments when I find my mind turning to thoughts of Prince Charming, I offer this simple prayer: “God, make him the man You want him to be before You make him mine.”

That’s it. I think it pretty much covers all of the basics. God knows the heart behind that simple prayer. He knows what it truly means. He knows that it is so much more than that simple statement. He knows that, truly, it’s a repeat of the much longer, specific prayer I prayed ten months ago. When I whisper that one simple line, I believe God hears the 28 other lines I had penned leading up to that closing statement. And because I know He hears the words I choose to leave unspoken, the thought of “happily ever after” drifts from my mind as quickly as it came and I am free to embrace the moment that has been handed to me here and now.

This is how I’ve been able to dance through the moments of my life as a single girl. It works for me. And it may work for you. Then again, it may not. After all, dreaming up a list of who I thought my future husband should be certainly didn’t work for me. But if you’re really struggling with the fantasy playing on repeat in your mind, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Shred your list, quiet your mind, and whisper these words:

“God, make him the man You want him to be before You make him mine.”

Once Upon a Dream

Flashback into a Disney scene in Sleeping Beauty: It’s a typical fairytale set-up including the woodland creatures skittering about the beautiful forest. Lost in a world that is entirely her own, our fairytale heroine reflects on a dream she had recently experienced. And since this is a Disney film, of course it came out in the form of a song.

I know you
I walked with you once upon a dream
I know you
The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
Yes, I know it’s true
that visions are seldom all they seem
But if I know you, I know what you’ll do
You’ll love me at once
the way you did once upon a dream

As she’s vocalizing and dancing about to the memory of a dream, her song is suddenly joined by a masculine voice, strong arms wrapping around her waist as her Prince materializes before her eyes. She melts into his embrace and they dance as one, both enraptured by the same dream. It’s so charming, so romantic, so… perfect. This is one of those scenes that elicits the statement: “Walt Disney gave me unrealistic expectations of men.”

Now, I’m pretty sure Walt Disney didn’t set out to crush the hopes of young women everywhere. I know he was an advocate of dreaming big, but I don’t think his intention was to set us up for disappointment. I think it’s our own skewed perspectives that are breaking our hearts. Fairytales weren’t meant to be realistic. I mean, come on, Sleeping Beauty, fairies, magic spells… When’s the last time you pricked your finger on a spindle and fell asleep for a hundred years? And would you really want to watch the movie if Prince Charming had simply walked up to her in that moment and said, “Hey, you’re kind of cute. Want to go out?” Whoo. Exciting.

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We’ve taken fairytales to a level they were never meant to achieve. Stop blaming Disney for your heartaches, leave Prince Charming in your dreams, and live as if you believed your life was meant for something far greater.

Bippity, Boppity, Boo

When I say the word “fairytale,” what story pops into your mind? For me, it’s Cinderella. I think that one is the most epic fairytale of all time. There’s just something about that girl who rises from servitude to royalty because of one glorious night at the ball. And we all know where that moment of magic began…

Follow me to a scene in the Walt Disney movie, Cinderella. Her dress has been torn, her dreams have been crushed. We find her sobbing in the garden when her fairy godmother appears. With a few encouraging words, a cheerful tune, and a wave of a wand, Cinderella’s entire world is transformed. For Cinderella, this was the beginning of her happily ever after, and the start of a brand new once-upon-a-time. For the rest of us, it began the fairy godmother fallacy.   

“Where’s my fairy godmother? Wouldn’t it be great if some lady with a wand would come out of the woodwork and help me out a little?” This question is pondered by fairytale characters too.  Have you ever watched the musical Once Upon a Mattress? Princess Winifred stews over the idea of living “happily, happily, happily ever after” while exclaiming that Cinderella had outside help and Snow White had “practically a legion” of dwarves. I think we can all relate with Princess Winifred when she sings, “I wish that happily ever after would happen to me.”  

I just want to take a minute to point out that Cinderella wasn’t looking for her fairy godmother; she was sobbing over a pile of broken dreams. The fairy godmother appeared when the timing was right. Likewise, you don’t have to search for happily ever after. When the timing is right, and only when the timing is right, your dream of Prince Charming will be realized.

It probably won’t come in the form of a fairy godmother, but the fairy godmother from the story is nothing but a personification of a turning in Cinderella’s life. Perhaps it won’t be that blatantly obvious that this is the start of happily ever after, but that point in your life will come nonetheless.

You don’t have to look for it, and you don’t have to spend your life trying to find Prince Charming. When the timing is right, it will suddenly become perfectly clear that happily ever after is happening to you.