Dear Girls – My Hannah “Grace” Joy and my Ruthie Charis “Companion of Grace”,
I was thinking the other day of princesses and dreams and high towers and freedom, and I wanted to share some of Momma’s heart with you. As you two watch Tangled over and over and sing songs and dance and pretend you are climbing down that tower and touching grass and freedom for the first time, I see my story unfold…my testimony played out on Disney’s screen and within the hearts of so many little girls. (When I was your age, the story was Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast; both of which unfold and unfurl parts of me, as well.) This dvd gets played far too often in our home due to your love of the story, and I think that maybe it’s the same in Heaven. This story of finding freedom from captivity is played over and over in the heavenlies because of God’s love of The Story – not just The Story, but each of our stories.
So, girls, “Once upon a time…
There was this girl who used to live in books and in movies and in her own head because the dream was easier than the reality. She would look out her window and see how privileged the world was; how easy the other kids had it. This girl would long for inner strength and courage and confidence, and in her dreams she was that girl. The Girl who didn’t need the approval of others. The Girl who was comfortable with herself. The Girl who didn’t flinch at life’s hits. The problem was, she could never be The Girl in real life for more than five minutes. Nothing inside herself was The Girl except the dream of The Girl. So she went back to looking out her window and reading books and watching movies and dreaming dreams. Then one day, The Prince came and called her to “let down her hair” (in a matter of speaking) and climb out that window and know love and freedom and how some dreams could come true if entrusted with the Right One. And she, she smiled BIG and laughed BIG and danced SILLY, and for that moment in the night, as the waves danced with the shore to the music that was in her heart, she was The Girl.
Then, the Mother Gothels of the world began to show up.
You don’t really know them yet, but, my Girls, you will. They pretend to love you, but they really just trap you. They steal the very freedom the Lover of Your Soul died to give you. You don’t see their haggard selves; they are darkness pretending to be light. They offer you beauty…if you’ll nearly kill yourself to get it. They offer you peace…if you take in enough to not feel the pain. They offer you money…if you’ll sell your soul to get it. They offer you happiness…if you’re willing to keep instantly gratifying. They offer you truth…as long as you believe their lies. And pretty soon, you find yourself locked in a high tower, gazing out a window, wishing for your life to really begin…because didn’t He promise a new and full life?
Want to know what I wonder every time I watch that movie with you? Why didn’t Rapunzel just climb down that tower anytime she wanted to? She wasn’t shackled. She wasn’t barred in. There wasn’t even glass to close in the window. So, why did she keep staying when she could have left? Want to know what else I wonder? Why have I stayed locked up in high towers most of my life? I am not shackled. I am not barred. There’s not glass closing in a single window in my life. So, why have I stayed shut up when I could have climbed out…been out…in the world…truly living for the One Who died to make it so? Why do I keep singing along with that long-haired girl, “When will my life begin?” when it began a little over 17 years ago? You can wake up every day of your earthly life and still not live. But why, Girls, why would we ever choose to do that?
Fear. Selfishness. Being jaded. Deception. Vanity. These and more can cause a free man or woman to voluntarily live behind bars because prison can seem safer somehow. The grass can look beautiful and soft and inviting, but if we listen to the voices around us we can believe it is all a facade. We can stay locked up…behind a wide-open doorway. But, oh, how I pray we won’t! Pray you won’t! Pray I won’t any longer!
It is for freedom, Girls, that Your Gentle, Passionate Savior set you free! Such freedom came at the ultimate cost – it is only free to you and me because it cost Him everything. And what do we do? We join the wandering Israelites after they were freed from Egypt and cry out for slavery again…because we could eat fish in prison. We’d rather have a feast in shackles instead of manna and water in freedom. We are a fickle people, but…and here is the black and white TRUTH, Girls…WE DON’T HAVE TO BE! The world, they will allow your excuses. They will say things like, “Well, you’re only human.” And we, we believe them, and when we believe them we don’t believe Him. And when we don’t believe Him, we call Him…a…liar. I don’t care what we desperately claim with our mouths, if we don’t passionately state it with our lives, we live a lie.
So, how do we do it, Girls? How do we climb out of our towers and never go back? (Because, whether we like it or not, He will not remove the towers. God wants us to choose Him, not be forced by Him.)
Well, what did Rapunzel do?
She finally climbed out…with the help of another. Interesting, huh? It took someone who thought they were already free, though he was really already sentenced to death, to jump into the “cell” of a really free woman before she would have the courage to get out. Yes, Girls, sometimes – a lot of times – God sends the prisoners to teach the free how to live free. So, be open to the wonderful, yet mysterious, ways of God. Don’t look at a person or a situation and think for a moment that God can’t possibly use them or this. He used a virgin girl, Girls, to carry a sinless Boy Who grew into a sinless Man Who took every sin committed onto His very body in order to make the sinner a saint. Truth: GOD CAN!
She looked fear in the face…and sang her way right through it! That’s right. When faced with the big, the bad, and the ugly Rapunzel chose to stay and fight for her dream instead of cowering and running back to her tower. We must choose to sing, Girls. I heard a sermon the other day about it. It was about how when the Israelites were finally set free after their captivity in Babylon/Persia and they began to rebuild their city, they didn’t get past the foundation before they stopped and sang praises. They knew something, Hannah…Ruth; they knew it wasn’t the rock and the mortar that would keep the city standing. They knew they couldn’t build on a foundation of sand. They knew that if they were going to keep standing…to keep living…to stay free…they would need to rebuild on the Foundation that never shifts or shakes or changes or crumbles. So, they praised not the foundation their hands had made, but the Founder Who made them. And…they…saw…HIS GLORY COME FROM THEIR RUINS!
Praise Him, praise Him, All ye little children..!
She was strong and brave! Rapunzel, for all her said fear, was the model of courage when threat surrounded her. She swung, she ran, she jumped, she dared to reveal her whole self, her secrets, her dreams. Joshua was challenged to do the same. He had been Moses’ assistant; he had seen many miracles and the very glory of God descending to meet with His servant and His people. Joshua had been there when the Red Sea parted, when manna fell from heaven, when water poured out from a rock, and when underdog Israel won battle after battle. Yet, for all the assurance God gave him, Joshua received the same exhortation over and over again…”Be strong and brave…” Many challenges will come our way, Girls, but if God has allowed them, He will enable us to go on the heights! His ways are higher; so, He will not leave us helpless in the valley. He will lead us, guide us, and strengthen us! So, swing, run, jump, be transparent, take off the masks, and dare to dream!
She realized who she really was. It took some time. In fact she almost succumbed to living back in her tower, but in the end, Rapunzel realized who she was. She knew she was the lost Princess, and she refused to live any longer like she didn’t know. Girls, we are all Daughters of the King. We have read books reminding us of this; maybe by the time you are reading this we have even done a Bible Study or two on it. Still, many of God’s Girls are lost princesses. They have lost their way, lost their identity, lost their vision. Don’t succumb, don’t give up, don’t give in! Remember who you are and Whose you are! You are more precious to Him than you can even comprehend, but don’t throw it away like it’s some sort of fairy tale – BELIEVE IT! FIGHT FOR IT! LIVE IT!
I love you, My Sweet Girls…to the moon and back!
P.S. I thought about praying that you would never remember a time when your mother was a voluntary prisoner…trapped in her own tower by lies she believed, but then I changed my mind and my prayer. Girls – Hannah, Ruth – the tower is a part of my testimony; therefore, it’s part of His grace and glory in my life. Though I do pray you will know a free mom more often than a trapped one, I don’t want to hide any part of my story from you. In fact, I pray it will be His hand making beauty of my ashes – making glory of my ruins – that will be a part of shaping you into the arrows you are born to be. So, Girls. Go…live His rich dreams for you. There is only one ending God writes for His children, and it always ends in