An example where a fairy tale helped me

My first child’s birth was a blur. Roughly 12 hours from the first contractions till I held her.

My second’s birth was 3 hours, start-to-finish, with approximately 4-times the intensity of the first one.

Facing my next delivery less than two years after that unpleasant surprise (the labor, not the baby) I felt an understandable measure of anxiety about the impending birth.

Like many Christians I quoted Philippians 4:13 to myself, and focused on the certainty that I could trust God’s provision for every need I may have.  This took care of my rational self, but not my emotional self .

For that part I fell back to the time-tested principles of distraction and deflection when possibilities of fear or discomfort offered their presence.

Then, at some point during this pregnancy I was doing some tale-searching and came across The Princess on the Glass Hill, a story I read years ago but had forgotten the details of.  The part that stuck with me was the Cinderlad enduring each increasingly bone-rattling earthquake with a simple observation.

“Well, if it gets no worse than that, I can manage to stand it.”

And in that simple line I “found my peace.”

The line became a mental summary reconciling my emotional state with reality: See, it *hasn’t* been too much; I’m still here.

Therein is the power of story. Truth that couldn’t bang through the frantic defenses of my fears opened the door with a simple key.  And who but God could have orchestrated the finding of just the right story at just the right time?

Every good and perfect gift is from above, and I pray that someday more of those gifts will be more accessible to hurting children, without the stigma hanging over them of what some people incorrectly think fairy tales mean.

6 thoughts on “An example where a fairy tale helped me

  1. What a smart use of a fairy tale. As I can see that you understand, fairy tales are meant to help us map our emotions. That’s just one of their uses. Have you ever read Spinning Straw into Gold by Joan Gould?

  2. Just catching up after a long week away.

    You are awesome. I love this story you have told here. And I love that fairy tales are a vehicle for lessons. I’ve decided that God can use so many things to help His children. If I’m a book worm, he’ll use a book. If my husband loves movies, maybe something will come there. We have to be open to that.

    Thank you for sharing.

  3. I guess people think “fairy tales” are where all good things happen. You know, the “they lived happily ever after” kind of thing.

    BTW, you listed a bunch of Cinderella stories a while back, we are working our way through the list. Thanks for posting them! I’m also sharing them with another friend who was surprised that “Cinderella” wasn’t just a European tale. Hey, I understand–I was there! Now I’m an ambassador for the Chinese/ Middle Eastern/ Egyptian/ etc. Cinderella.

    (And when I read one of those tales to the boys last week, I edited the ending. . . “And they lived happily ever after, except for the bills and arguments and rough times of life.” (I suppose it could be “despite” not “except for.” It’s all in how one looks at things, isn’t it?

  4. Katew– I think I’ve heard of it, but no, not read it.

    E– while I agree God can use anything, I still try to be wise about it– after all, even though God can use, say, leprosy, that doesn’t mean I seek it out. ;)

    PM– I’m excited to hear the list has been useful to you. Did you see my post about modifying the tale (Work is not abuse)?

    Speaking of “It’s all in how you look at things,” I think you’ll like my latest post at family news– “The Straight Life.

  5. Thanks, Amy, I think I read “work is not abuse” sometime, but it’s definitely worth the re-read. If one wanted to criticize, fairy tales are full of things to meet that need. But there’s such benefit also!

    And mowing the lawn, it’s a struggle here. I could do it (did it last year) but it took me a whole day. Still, I wish there were something more I could do to lighten the load on my hubby.

    Real life and fairy tales reminds me of the Ramona Quimby book when she gets in trouble for asking (pestering) her teacher about how Mike Mulligan went to the bathroom. (Which is humorous since we just read Mike Mulligan last week!) Books, TV, movies do not contain real life in all its boring glory. But really, do we need to know it all? Maybe we do, to satisfy the Ramona questions. Maybe it is better to just say “they lived happily ever after,” because the boringness of life is assumed.

    Maybe I’d better stop thinking and go get ready for the busy reality of today!!! :)

  6. I finally broke down and read Twilight (I had been resisting, but a good friend whose taste I trust finally convinced me), and I have to admit, the tale was helpful. In much the same way as it helps children to read books with animal characters (Barbara Curtis has written about that) because it helps them take a step back and see someone a step removed deal with the same issues, I think fantasy can be helpful, even to adults. Examining a vampire overcoming the temptation to kill his girlfriend was an encouraging perspective on resisting my own real-life temptations. Ha. So I guess even pop fiction fairy tales have their uses.

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