By JAMIE PARSELL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
What would have happened if the ugly step-sister would have worn the same shoe size as Cinderella? We might have been left with a different ending — no happily ever after. A glass slipper that didn’t belong to the right woman. The town folks would have revolted. No wedding, or worse of all, no meaning behind “bibbidi-bobbidi-boo.” The fairy godmother’s acts of fairy dust would have been for nothing. And finally, the injustice of the mix up might have sent readers — those with a romantic heart — into a fairy-tale panic.
I grew up watching Cinderella dash down the palace steps. (She had to be a runner.) So when the question about an alternative outcome was posed to the congregation at Johnston Chapel Baptist Church last Sunday, I couldn’t help but smile.
Pastor John King — with a straight face, no less — used the fairy tale to drive home a point in his message. We don’t like the unfairness of life. In fairy tales, the page are glossy and shiny. The heroine is beautiful with elegant gowns. The handsome prince has good hair. In classic good versus evil, the last page always ends with a happily ever after, good over evil. It is what we expect — from the last pages of “Cinderella” to any Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy. Any disruption is an injustice, something we find everyday in society. Yet, not in fairy tales. Aren’t they protected by our imaginations, sanctified by fairy dust and a wand?
In my mind, glass slippers would be as comfortable as flip flops. But let’s be honest. Glass slippers would hurt. They would pinch with each step. I can barely last eight hours in heels, not an entire romantic career. Cinderella must have had dainty feet. The ugly step-sister isn’t the only one who wouldn’t have been able to wear those fragile slippers. What if she had somehow won the prince’s heart? The story would have had a dramatic twist. A happily ever after altered by divorce. A beautiful young woman unhappy and alone. A prince manipulated by a scheming mother and her two daughters. Soap opera or real life? You decide. Either way, it is no fairy tale.
But what can we do? Pastor King didn’t talk anymore about fairy tales. I really didn’t expect him too. His message was more about our spiritual lives; Cinderella was just an example of how injustice makes us feel. There isn’t a way to turn life into a fairy tale. We can’t create the perfect endings in life, no matter how hard we try, or how much glitter (fairy dust) we borrow from the craft store. Authors can re-write our favorites into Zombie Cinderella meets Snow White, but we know the original story line by heart. That is why we like fairy tales. For a split second, we can imagine a world of justice, where the girl always gets the guy and the cute shoes.
In life, the injustices we see against children, those less fortunate and our friends and neighbors can affect us more than we realize. So overwhelmed by our emotions, we can’t focus on the joys of life. I can relate. It is hard to focus on feature stories, a woman’s magazine and future holiday pieces when the newsroom is buzzing about crime. It taints my corner of the newsroom. But there is justice in the form of law enforcement. Cinderella got her man in the end. For other situations, God will judge. We can’t spend our days questioning the injustice of things beyond our control. Or wondering about the outcome of Cinderella and her shoes. I don’t suggest standing by and letting injustice run through our streets. Our moral code depends on the ability to recognize good and evil and choose accordingly. Society depends on that choice. And happiness relates to finding joy in other areas when a certain outcome doesn’t fall in place.
A pastor’s sermon about the injustice of life — detailed in the Book of Ecclesiastics — taught me more about injustice than any crime show on TV. All it took was one example from a beloved fairy tale and I understood. God doesn’t want us to give on life because things don’t always go our way. We never give up on story book heroines and their mates; they will always have a happy ever after. Perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to give up on our spiritual life. We can have a happily ever after all, without the fairy dust. All we need is faith and trust for the days ahead.
Jamie Parsell is Lifestyle editor at the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or follower her on Twitter at @BDTParsell..