Killing the Fairytale
Updated: Feb 12, 2021
True love… or to quote the clergyman in the movie Princess Bride, “Wuv, twue wuv, will fowwow you foweva.”
I’m about to say something that may incur the wrath of hopeless romantics everywhere, but I believe that it is time we kill off the ideas of soul mates, true love, and Prince(ess) Charming. How many times have you heard a story that began with, “Once upon a time…,” and ended with, “And they lived happily ever after?” Probably in the hundreds to thousands, as our society and culture love the idea of a fairytale.
There is a reason that Disney is worth $65 billion dollars as of 2020. As a little girl I loved Beauty and the Beast. I was seriously envious of her library… I know I’m a nerd, but the love story was cool, too. These stories aren’t necessarily bad as they teach children what it’s like to fight for love, be honorable, strong, and fight against evil. The problem, I would argue, is that while you may not play dress up anymore or pretend to slay dragons, we all still want to believe in a fantasy.
As we grow up, some of us replace Disney with the newest Hollywood love story that reinforces the idea that love must be perfect, instant, and happy to be real. Further, when we allow our children to engage with these movies and ideals, we unintentionally affirm that if they aren’t feeling fulfilled and complete in a relationship then maybe they haven’t found “the one” or their “soul mate.” Over time, they start to view this individual as a functional savior; looking to that person to do for them what only God can do. To quote Jerry Maguire, “…satisfy and complete them.” This sets our children up to fail, as they will feel chronic disappointment. This disappointment occurs because, while this person might make a great significant other or spouse, they make a terrible God. This ideal and fantasy trains us to look to something that was created, to give us what we can only find in our Creator.
We have watched so many marriages and relationships around us fall apart that we struggle to believe ours could be any different. As a society, we are skeptical about relationships. The last thing someone needs, when a relationship is difficult, is to feel hopeless.
The collateral damage we incur when we uphold “the one” or the “soul mate” is twofold. One, it causes us to think that we must’ve missed “the one” and possibly start to consider the grass might be greener elsewhere. Two if we think that, we need to examine how healthy the relationship was to begin with? Instead, we need to model to youth that the heart, or the feelings you experience, cannot always be trusted. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” In short, your heart will lie to you and is untrustworthy. We need to model what it looks like to take each relationship to God and trust what He says, instead of relying solely on our feelings or heart to guide us. Also, not to totally throw Disney under the bus, but they really know how to sell princess merchandise with the tagline, “Follow your heart.”
As parents and leaders, it is immensely important for us to model what healthy disagreement and unconditional love looks like in marriage. While you may not always be happy, you love, forgive, and work to push each other closer to Jesus every day. This means that we must demonstrate what it means to set Jesus as our “one”, and to bring our relationships and marriages to Him. Placing trust in the fact that He is the only one who will fulfill what you need, love you endlessly, and satisfy you. Psalms 107:9 says, “for he satisfies the thirsty, and gives the hungry good things.” We need to model loving our spouses (and those we are in a relationship with) unselfishly, and not depend on them to make us happy. If that is not our auto pilot in a relationship, then we need to course correct and acknowledge they will never be enough. It is time to let go of what we think we want, and to understand what we need.
The irony of this is, when we look at our relationships through the Word and lean into Jesus, we will find our real life is better than any story Hollywood or Disney could ever write.