There Are Two Forever Afters
Letters to Lexi is a new blog series I’ve started. Written for women and girls who may need a differing look at womanhood. We will be exploring the good, the weird, the hard and above all else, the truth about what it means to be a woman and what your femininity means to you. So glad to have you here for the first installment.
Hugs and All My Love,
There are Two Forever Afters
There is much to be said about falling in love with reading. It was purely one of my favorite past times in my youth and something I carried on with me, each year deeper into my life. As a child, I would curve my gangly frame underneath a blanket, a flashlight in one hand and my favorite book of the day in the other. Long after being put to bed, gauging my breaths in order to avoid detection by mt parents, I rushed through pages of my favorite stories, swallowing one adventure after another into my dreams.
More times than not, it was the only way to reach me; those words etched on other’s pages opened up longings and dreams and creative ideas inside of me, I had never yet knew existed. Getting lost in searches for treasure and on magic carpets, my tiny reality was expanded, as the world began to open up beyond the borders of a small, Oklahoma farm town. Being grounded by my parents meant being threatened with no more trips to library. It was always more than enough in order to keep my behavior in check. I was simply unable to live without books.
While reading for myself continues to be a highlight of my day; I was unaware of how lovely and more glorious in which reading could evolve, until I began reading with you. Your relationship with books was slow. It began as most relationships do, mostly a one-sided affair: a book presenting itself open and ready to be consumed, and your small hands and lips grappling over new syllables and words. Cautious and at times unsure, you beat out every feeling of your tongue against your mouth, pouring out the longing of what was written until finally, the page and your voice, connected into what you could understand. You were dreaming and planning adventures on your own.
It was challenging, even painful at times to be patient, while you discovered a world yet unknown to you. There was nothing for me to do but to guide you when you needed it and to wait. Listening to you anunnciate and then comprehend the scenes being shown on the pages between us, was magic coming into reality. The worlds I had previously explored were opened and investigated again and with the same childish glee I had experienced all those years ago. You gave a piece of my childhood back to me every time we chose a new book to read. We also wrote a few of our own individual legends and tall tales, which only further reminded me that we are not designed to stop creating and believing in new and old things. I can never thank you enough for those times darling. The thoughts make my lips spread wide into a smile, even now.
Oh, there were some absolute fantastical fairy tales in our nightly bedtime routine. Flying, dragons, magical tree houses, sorcerers and falcon kings and lovable animals were all main characters in our chosen adventures. Inside most of our shared pages presented introductions to magical creatures, imaginary beings that stretched your ideals of the possible and dared you to dream of faraway places you could only explore by opening a book. In all of those tales, the hours of reading and dreaming and sketching our own stories, there was one character I refused to introduce you to: the princess.
It is not that our local library and bookstores were not full of books about such things. Movies further expounded on these types of characters when you were old enough to begin to enjoy them. Admittedly, it was hard to keep big dresses, glittering crown jewels and a systematic love story out of our nightly readings. Such omissions were never by accident, for I did have a plan, a lesson that would come much later in your life. But merely mentioning the subject is unavoidable for now. Since your peers and eventually you yourself asked about the creatures known as princesses, my exclusion may have to be explained.
Where were the princesses in our story times you wonder?
The truth is those stories bored me as a child. They bore me even more as an adult. While the heroics can be fantastical and the adventures grand, the rescuer was always male and the element of true love was lackluster at best. As someone who loves you with the purest of intentions, there is something I want for you, more than all the other somethings and dreams I wish. In your own life, I pray that you be the victor over all the things you can.
I want you to brace yourself for something darling, an idea the rest of the world may never want you to believe because at first it does not make sense: there are two ever afters in your life and neither one of them involves a prince or a boy. One story involves you and the other is between you and the King of the Universe.
There is no happily ever after as is displayed in all those princess stories. Moments of pure joy in your life? There will be many and I pray they outweigh the moments of hurt and drudgery of everyday life. One pair of shoes did not change Cinderella’s life. there is a reason why Disney never signed on for the sequel to the first movie: Ever After-The Reunion. To pick up on her life fifteen years later is the same as it was when she was living with her stepmother, only the house she is cleaning is now a palace. Instead of keeping watch over the stepsisters, she’s picking up her Prince’s underwear and instead of chasing mice and horses, she’s got a brood of kids of her own to be worried about.
The truth of love is much more simple if you are willing to believe it, and more importantly, if you choose to live it out. The first love story is more magical than anything the Grimm’s brothers could have imagined. Before you were a thought in your mother and father’s mind, the God who created the universe, had a vision of what his perfect daughter would look like. Carving the line of your jaw, the count of your fingers and toes and choosing the precise location of how your eyes would set in your head, it was there that you came into being. Before He bothered with the stars the galaxies and the small piece of earth that would be carved out the black hole of creation, He thought of you. What He saw after he was finished, He deemed it as good.
After counting the hairs on your head and numbering the days of your love, he allowed that love to wait thousands of years before making his dream of you a reality. The depths of his love was so pure and longing for nothing more to spend an eternity cherishing you, he sent his only son to earth. Born of a human,,he was tempted in every way a human can be promised life only on this earth and he denied every single one of them. Beaten, tortured, betrayed by one of this best friends and given over to death he was hated for the beauty of his love and they killed him for it. A love worth dying for You have found it. Life that lives forever, this is no vampire teenage love story. The best part of it all is that not only is it real, it is promised to us if we are able to have enough faith to believe and receive it. While he did it for me and you and the entire rest of the world, he would have done it for only you. If that is not the definition of love story, then such stories do not exist.
In all the books you’ve read and have been read to you, this love story is the best Cinderella version ever told and will ever be written. Congratulations precious girl, you are not only a princess in the flesh but the inherited daughter of a King; no marriage to a prince or his earthly kingdom required. You don’t even have to slay a dragon to inherit what is yours. All you have to do is believe and receive it.
The second ever after love story will be harder for you to play out in your everyday life. The enemy wants so desperately for your to not accept the first gift Jesus has set out for you, his hope is that you will never even think about investing into your second love affair. The second love story you have to master is the one with yourself.
Honey, hear me: you cannot love anything unless you believe your own worth. You are nothing in life if not worthy of love. In order to fully experience what I mean, you are going to have to do something crazy. You are going to have to learn how to fall in love with you. This is not to suggest you become vain or completely self absorbed. No one want to be around such a fool. Once you know deep in the marrow of your bones who you are and what you want to be about, ask yourself: am I willing to continue to explore that girl all the days of my life? Are you willing to look in the mirror year after wrinkle adding year and ask: “How are you Lexi and do you recognize who you are under all of the underpinnings of life, work and family? Will I keep falling in love with the image of who God designed me to be?”
Don’t look past this step in growing and learning through life. There are so many women who cannot tell me after five, ten, even twenty-five years what it is that they even like to do for their down time. If you are not continuously pursuing who you are, you can never know who you want to become. Stagnancy leads to boredom and boredom into rebellion and rebellion into forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is the worst of all the sins because once you forget who you are, you are capable of anything.
Instead of enveloping completely inside your kids, your work, your spouse, continually develop pieces of yourself. What do you like to do? What is your favorite way to spend a day with no responsibilities? Do you like coffee or tea or wine (when age appropriate)? How do you cope with stress, defeat or loss? Are you a glass half empty or half full kind of soul? Rock n roll or jazz for your playlist?
While these may seem like goofy questions, there are a lot of women who cannot answer them. In preparation for a deposition or trial testimony, I remind my clients that “I don’t know”, “I don’t remember” and “I’m not sure” are all legitimate answers. This is especially important for my female clients. For whatever reason, God has hardwired our female selves to provide an answer to the questions we are asked, even if we are unsure or unconfident. We feel as though to answer anything less than unsure is being rude or unknowledgeable. It is better to say “I don’t know” then to be stuck to a lie further down the road.
If you find yourself asking a question about who you are and you are unsure of the answer, it is perfectly appropriate to say “I don’t know”, “I don’t remember” or “I’m not sure”. Then go back and search who you are until you can find out the truth. You owe it to yourself to spend the rest of your life knowing and living the person God designed you to be and no other answer than the truth will do.
Eventually, choose a prince if you want or if you must, but slay dragons all on your own and forego the misconception of having a “man do it for you.” Linger in places and spaces in your life to fully explore who you are and what you want to become and hold all of the answers up to the glass that asks “Is this reflective of how God sees me and who He desires me to be?”
photo courtesy of Simon Cocks