People seem to have a love-hate relationship with fairy tales these days.
I’ve noticed two camps: one camp loves fairy tales and everything they imply. A person from this camp will readily tell you that she still believes in them—that happy endings are not only a possibility, but a likelihood or even something she deserves. I’ve noticed more women in this camp than men. This person is either an extremely bubbly eternal optimist or that really quiet girl or guy who sits in the back of the class drawing dragons in the margins of his or her notes.
The other camp is the realist/pessimist camp. They’ve got their tents pitched in the marshes, if you know what I mean. These were the first kids in school who were willing to say they did not believe in fairies. These are the disappointed ones. These are the ones who expected things to turn out the way they do in fairy tales—prince charming or perfect princess and living sappily, happily ever after. When they didn’t, they threw the baby out with the bath water and insisted that love must be a myth as well. The people in this category vary. Some are the smart people who approach relationships with a “head-over-heart,” cerebral approach—like Lt. Commander Data on a date. Some are militantly anti-romance; the kind who like to yell at couples locked in prolonged periods of silent eye-contact to “take a picture, it lasts longer” (I’ve seen this happen). There are those who are content—and perfectly happy—living life without the fairy tale, and fill their time with similarly worthy pursuits. And then there are those who swathe themselves in cynical bitterness, cranking out angry-sounding essays from their darkened corners at Starbucks, sipping the bitterest of espressos.
I’m not here to say what camp I’m in. I’m just giving you the field notes.
I do wonder, however, why this seems to be such a divisive issue. Both camps tend to look down their noses at each other. The fairy-tale-lovers pity those who’ve given up on hunting for prince charming, and those who have given up on Princy and love in general think that everyone in camp A is several fries short of a Happy Meal.
Both sides seem to be missing the point. Honestly, folks, love—when it’s real love, not the counterfeit version that seems to be so prominent these days—is beautiful. It’s the most wonderful thing in the world.
What’s real love?
“Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Real love is utterly selfless. Real love is like being king of the universe and deciding to become a human for thirty years. Real love is like spending three of those thirty years telling people the truth about themselves, even if that’s not what they want to hear. Real love is spending your years on earth caring for people that society has cast out. And even when those people decide to turn on Him, demanding His death, His real love still loves them back. Someone with real love would be willing to let His soul, though sinless, be stained with all the wickedness of the world. Real love is willing to carry all the blame for every crime—crimes He didn’t commit. A Man with real love would be able to look into the eyes of His executioners and say to an unseen listener, “Father, forgive them—for they do not know what they do.” Real love forgives. Real love lasts for all eternity.
And that’s no fairy tale.