Cinderella is probably one of my favorite fairytales. Who doesn’t love the story of the poor orphan girl, slaving away at the beck and call of her cruel stepmother and stepsisters, always selflessly denying herself… until one day her fairy godmother swoops in and paves the way for Cinderella to escape her life of drudgery? Oh sure, there’s ups and downs along the way, what with the stepmother finding out about the mystery princess at the ball and keeping Cinderella from immediately racing off to join her prince and all that. But mostly, it’s an uphill journey, from rags to riches, from nondescript servant girl to princess of the land. And if we’re being honest, which of us doesn’t want that for ourselves?
For that matter, how many of us have felt like Cinderella at one point or another in our lives? Both hands raised here—at one point, I honestly felt like everyone was shoving their work off on me and I was the only one accomplishing my responsibilities around the house, like I was their slave or a victim of my circumstances or something.
Oh, my family wasn’t cruel—far from it! I have a wonderful family and I love them to death. And they really weren’t treating me like Cinderella. It was something that I had fantasized about in my mind so often that I became accustomed to the mindset. I felt like all I was doing was giving up everything I dreamed about or wanted in order to fulfill my family’s wishes. I was even given the nickname “Sanderella” as a joke. Part of my job for my oldest sister is sanding wood (for the signs we make). I always get messy anyway no matter what I do, but when I was sanding stained wood, I would be covered with a fine coating of brown-black grit that made me look like I had rolled around in soot. (And let me clarify; although I complained about it a lot, I don’t really mind the job… most days. ;P)
But I allowed the modern Cinderella mindset to become so ingrained in me that I became discontented with where I was in life. And I know that it wasn’t all just that mindset. I was working through some other spiritual struggles and our family was undergoing a lot of change at the time, plus I was dealing with teenage girl hormones and all that.
Sometimes it felt like all I was doing was giving up everything I dreamed about—or even realistic goals and wishes, like graduating high school—in order to fulfill my duties to my family. I felt a lot like Angie in “A Cinderella Christmas,” one of my all-time favorite modern Cinderella retellings. (I mean, come on… a Cinderella story and Christmas all wrapped up in one movie?? Can’t get much better than that!)
I did a lot of self-pitying and complaining in those days. And my poor friends and family who got my woes dumped on them! (Y’all know who y’all are… and I just want to say a big thank you for hanging in there with me through all that!) In fact, it was one of those “dumps” that started my attitude change.
It was just one of those days, you know? Nothing was going right, I felt like I couldn’t be myself or do what I wanted, I was really discouraged because I couldn’t find a “real job,” and I was just stressed out. I actually don’t remember what all I was dealing with that day, but it was enough that I wanted to cry (and I usually only cry when I get really stressed out and overwhelmed). I finally told my friend I was texting, “You know what? I’m going to go out to the shed and just organize and pray.”
So that’s what I did. Organizing (and reorganizing) things clears my head, plus I work things out best by writing or talking them out. That day, I went between organizing shelves and writing out a prayer on the computer. And through that mind-clearing and soul-searching couple of hours, I believe God finally got a much-needed lesson through to me (that I am still learning and relearning!).
He placed me where I was (and am) for a specific purpose. He wasn’t moving me somewhere else like I wanted because I wasn’t ready yet. He still had lessons for me to learn and areas in which I needed to grow, right here at home.
There were and are several things that I really desire(d). First and foremost, I want to get married and have a home of my own. I felt that I couldn’t be a witness and testimony for Christ at home, because I was raised in a Christian home and my whole family is saved. I felt that I needed to get a job out of home so that I could both provide for myself and have more of a mission field.
I felt that by staying at home, I was being denied even the chance to fulfill any of those dreams. Not every day, no. Some of the time, I was happy being at home, doing school, and working for my oldest sister. But mostly, housework was drudgery, school was something I just wanted to get done with as soon as possible, and work was stressful. I just wanted something to come along and get me away from where I was and whisk me to a place where dreams come true.
Are you relating to any of this? Maybe we’re not quite a servant girl who miraculously gets to meet her Prince Charming and is swept off her feet… but we’re sure looking forward to that day when someone or something comes along and whisks us to the place of our dreams, whether it’s a tall, handsome fellow who calls us beautiful and would do anything for us or perhaps maybe something more like going to college… moving to our own place… serving on the foreign mission field… getting an out-of-home job… and the list goes on.
Now please, before you think I’m downplaying God’s calling on some of us in these areas, I’m not. I fully believe that where God has led you is the best place for you to be. For some it may be marriage, for others the opportunity to serve in a work place or foreign mission field, for others college, or wherever it is that God has called you to be. But for most of us, especially teenage girls still in high school, that place—for right now—is home.
I think that sometimes, in our quest for our Prince Charming, whatever that might look like… we forget to be still, to live and serve and grow where God has us right now. We forget that we have be buried and toil hard to grow before we can bloom.
So many of us, including me, try to jump the gun. We want the privileges, the ability to make our own choices, the freedom, right here and right now. We want to go to college or get a job or get married as soon as we graduate from high school, or sometimes even before. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if you and your parents are positive that that is what God has for you.
But let me remind you of something. Jesus does not call us to get; He calls us to give—to give of ourselves, our money, our time, our love, whatever it may be.
I know that I lost sight of that. I was expecting to have all of my dreams fulfilled and have everyone and everything cater to me when that elusive Prince Charming came along. But one thing that God has shown me again and again over the years is that it’s not all about me. The mindset nowadays is all glorifying to self. It’s “do what makes you feel good,” “take out some time for you,” “get rid of anything in your life that is hindering you from fulfilling your dreams and passions,” and so on and so on. And while there is a small grain of truth in it—yes, you need to follow what God has called you personally to do, and sometimes you do need to cut out some things in order to do that—there is also a large factor to finding happiness and fulfillment in life that they completely miss out on.
“In Christ alone.” That simple phrase is so, so powerful and so often underrated. We forget how helpless and needy we are without Christ, even (and I might even say, especially) as Christians. And in my whole self-pitying state, I was missing out on something special.
I had to change my whole mindset, and let me tell you, it was and is a process. I am still growing and learning. But instead of thinking “why am I stuck here?” perhaps try thinking “what does God have for me to do right here, right now?”
That day when I was reorganizing the shed and my mindset, I realized a few things.
Where God has me right now is my mission field.
For me, it’s being at home, helping out around the house, being a help and blessing to my family. And slowly I have been able to gain more privileges, do more things, go more places, make my own choices, etc. But only because of this next thing.
Be faithful in the little things.
One of my favorite verses is Luke 16:10. “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.” Verses 11 and 12 continue the thought. “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own?” That really helped me to be more focused on doing well in my household chores. I wanted my own house… but if I didn’t learn to be faithful in and care for the chores I have at my parents’ house, how will I be able to faithfully maintain my own home?
It’s hardly ever easy, especially at first, but choose to have a positive outlook on things. Choose to find something good in every little thing that you do. I discovered that I actually love doing housework when I began choosing to look at it as something that I had the opportunity to bless Mom in than when I looked at it as something that I just had to do.
Keep my focus on Christ and others.
In Ephesians 2, Paul gives an example of how Jesus gave up everything and came as a servant to others, and he encourages us to follow in Jesus’ footsteps. Jesus also taught multiple times to put others above ourselves. Like I said earlier, the mindset today is to put self first, but the Bible teaches us to deny ourselves and serve others. By serving and loving others, we are serving and loving God (Matthew 25:40).
Trust that God will lead me in His will in His perfect timing.
Waiting is the hardest part. Believe me, I know. But when He starts directing things in His timing, you’ll see that it was worth the wait, every time. It takes a ton of patience and trust, I will admit, and sometimes a lot of tears and frustration. But He works it out for good in His perfect time (Romans 8:28).
There were some other things that I have learned over the years, but this was pretty much my starting place. By trying to glorify God above myself and serve others before myself, it has helped me to be more cheerful, at peace, and fulfilled. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy. There are lots of ups and downs. But like I’ve said before, when you look back and see how far God has brought you, it’s worth it.
I know I kind of strayed from the whole Cinderella thing the last few paragraphs. I guess the main thing that changed for me was that I no longer viewed myself as a victim of my circumstances. God has placed me where I am, right now, for a specific purpose, and that place is my mission field and my calling right here at this moment. It may not be my ideal, but He will work it out for my good. I don’t enjoy every moment of it, but I am learning to find the blessings in every day.
And you know what? I don’t have to wait for a Prince Charming to come sweep me off my feet, because God has given me everything I need for right here and now. I may not be living a “happily ever after” Cinderella fairytale, but I am living a “blessed right now” real life, and it is good.