upon a time (as the story goes) there was a beautiful maiden, an absolute
enchantress. She might be the daughter of a king or a common servant girl,
but we know she is a princess at heart. She is young with a youth that
seems eternal. Her flowing hair, her deep eyes, her luscious lips, her
sculpted figure—she makes the rose blush for shame, the sun is pale compared
to her light. Her heart is golden, her love as true as an arrow. But this
lovely maiden is unattainable, the prisoner of an evil power who holds
her captive in a dark tower.
Only a champion may win her, only
the most valiant, daring, and brave warrior has a chance of setting her
free. Against all hope he comes; with cunning and raw courage he lays siege
to the tower and the sinister one who holds her. Much blood is shed on
both sides; three times the knight is thrown back, but three times he rises
again. Eventually the sorcerer is defeated; the dragon falls, the giant
The maiden is his; through his valor
he has won her heart. On horseback they ride off to his cottage by a stream
in the woods for a rendezvous that gives passion and romance new meaning.
Why is this story so deep in our
psyche? Every little girl knows the fable without ever being told. She
dreams one day her prince will come. Little boys rehearse their part with
wooden swords and cardboard shields. And one day the boy, now a young man,
realizes that he wants to be the one to win the beauty. Fairy tales, literature,
music, and movies all borrow from this mythic theme. Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella,
Helen of Troy, Romeo and Juliet, Anthony and Cleopatra, Arthur and Guinevere,
Tristan and Isolde. From ancient fables to the latest blockbuster, the
theme of a strong man coming to rescue a beautiful woman is universal to
human nature. It is written in our hearts, one of the core desires of every
man and every woman.
I met Stasi in high school, but
it wasn't until late in college that our romance began. Up till that point
we were simply friends. When one of us came home for the weekend, we'd
give the other a call just to "hang out"—see a movie, go to a party. Then
one summer night something shifted. I dropped by to see Stasi; she came
sauntering down the hall barefoot, wearing a pair of blue jeans and a white
blouse with lace around the collar and the top buttons undone. The sun
had lightened her hair and darkened her skin and how is it I never realized
she was the beautiful maiden before?
We kissed that
night, and though I'd kissed a few girls in my time I had never tasted
a kiss like that. Needless to say, I was history. Our friendship had turned
to love without my really knowing how or why, only that I wanted to be
with this woman for the rest of my life. As far as Stasi was concerned,
I was her knight.
Why is it that
ten years later I wondered if I even wanted to be married to her anymore?
Divorce was looking like a pretty decent option for the both of us. So
many couples wake one day to find they no longer love each other. Why do
most of us get lost somewhere between "once upon a time" and "happily ever
after"? Most passionate romances seem to end with evenings in front of
the TV. Why does the dream seem so unattainable, fading from view even
as we discover it for ourselves? Our culture has grown cynical about the
fable. Don Henley says, "We've been poisoned by these fairy tales." There
are dozens of books out to refute the myth, books like Beyond Cinderella
and The Death of Cinderella.
No, we have
not been poisoned by fairy tales and they are not merely "myths." Far from
it. The truth is, we have not taken them seriously enough. As Roland Hein
says, "Myths are stories which confront us with something transcendent
and eternal." In the case of our fair maiden, we have overlooked two very
crucial aspects to that myth. On the one hand, none of us ever really believed
the sorcerer was real. We thought we could have the maiden without a fight.
Honestly, most of us guys thought our biggest battle was asking her out.
And second, we have not understood the tower and its relation to her wound,
the damsel is in distress. If masculinity has come under assault, femininity
has been brutalized. Eve is the crown of creation, remember? She embodies
the exquisite beauty and the exotic mystery of God in a way that nothing
else in all creation even comes close to. And so she is the special target
of the Evil One; he turns his most vicious malice against her. If he can
destroy her or keep her captive, he can ruin the story.
Every woman can tell you about
her wound; some came with violence, others came with neglect. Just as every
little boy is asking one question, every little girl is, as well. But her
question isn't so much about her strength. No, the deep cry of a little
girl's heart is am I lovely? Every woman needs to know that she is exquisite
and exotic and chosen. This is core to her identity, the way she bears
the image of God. Will you pursue me? Do you delight in me? Will you fight
for me? And like every little boy, she has taken a wound as well. The wound
strikes right at the core of her heart of beauty and leaves a devastating
message with it: No. You're not beautiful and no one will really fight
for you. Like your wound, hers almost always comes at the hand of her father.
A little girl looks to her father
to know if she is lovely. The power he has to cripple or to bless is just
as significant to her as it is to his son. If he's a violent man he may
defile her verbally or sexually. The stories I've heard from women who
have been abused would tear your heart out. Janet was molested by her father
when she was three; around the age of seven he showed her brothers how
to do it. The assault continued until she moved away to college. What is
a violated woman to think about her beauty? Am I lovely? The message is,
No ... you are dirty. Anything attractive about you is dark and evil. The
assault continues as she grows up, through violent men and passive men.
She may be stalked; she may be ignored. Either way, her heart is violated
and the message is driven farther in: you are not desired, you will not
be protected, no one will fight for you.-...continues