In another sorrowful twisted turn, she loses her doting father and her beautiful world collapses in the cruel hands of her step-mother. As she sleeps by the fire to keep warm, the cinders from the dying fire fall on her and thus she acquires the name, Cinder-ella. I have seen various Cinderella movies and read various story lines, and have found that more often than not, the cruelty of the wicked step-mother and sisters is seen through the lens of jealousy. They are either jealous of Cinderella's beauty, or of the love Cinderella and her father shared, or at times jealous of her kindess of spirit. In this intricately woven story I saw both of the main characters, the evil step mother and Cinderella, through the lens of GRIEF.
In one scene, Cinderella finally speaks up for herself and gut-wrenchingly questions her step mother as to why she must be so cruel? I could see the pain in her step mother's eyes. The harshness in her face and eyes relents for a moment as she says it's because Cinderella is pure and innocent. Yes, she was jealous of Cinderella, but perhaps not because of her beauty, not even by her goodness, but rather by how Cinderella continues to bloom and blossom despite of pain and sorrow. She too has felt deep love and tasted bitter loss, but instead the step-mother chose to grow hard and angry. Watching Cinderella choose life and live it with courage and kindess was like salt in her own sorrowful wounds.
Grief. It is such a powerful emotion and encompasses all others. You can feel happy and still grieve. You can feel angry and still grieve. You can feel sad and still grieve. Grief bleeds through all other emotions and hightens them. Grief changes you. You can not remain the same, whether you want it to or not, it changes you. Your pre-grief shape no longer exists, and with that realization comes a deep sense of loss of self and the fear of the unknown. All that you once knew of love and security is gone and you find yourself teetering on the edge of uncertainty and confusion. You have no choice, there is no going back. You must move forward with courage or stay still paralyzed in fear. And here we find the dichotomy between Cinderella and her step-mother. One chooses to move gingerly forward in courage, compelled by kindess, forgiveness and love, and the other remains entangled in fear and ensnared in anger.
If you let it though, grief can re-shape you into a new and beautiful creation. Or it can warp you into a twisted version of your former self. If you allow the pain of grief to sweep over you and trust that God can make beauty from ashes, you can beautifully emerge from the deep chasm of grief as Cinderella did with courage and kindess. Or, you can thrash against grief, allowing yourself to become engulfed in the deep darkness and seething anger, as did the step-mother.
To live through grief takes courage and kindess, especially with yourself. It takes courage to move forward when all you want to do is retreat. It takes kindess to be gracious with yourself when you catch yourself in a moment of joy, smiling at the beauty that is still found in the life around you. As I walked away from the magical movie, hand in hand with my own sweet little princess, I felt so thankful and blessed that we as a family have chosen to walk our grief journey with courage and with kindness.
If you are in a place of grief today, whether it be the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, or even the loss of a relationship, my prayer is that you would walk forward with courage and kindness and choose to rise from the ashes. May you, like Cinderella allow beauty to come from the cinders of a broken life and allow God to make beauty from the ashes.