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Classic Fairy Tales Highlight the Struggles of Life

Naomi Zacharias writes of her experiences as director of Wellspring International, an advocate for at-risk women and children around the world. She has visited brothels, foster homes of children living with HIV/Aids, and refugee camps.

Surprisingly, she often finds connections between her work and the classic fairy tales she grew up with. Unfortunately, modern versions of these stories often skim over the hardships of life so they can jump right to the part about living happily ever after. But the original stories were honest about the pain and struggles of this life.

For example, "Cinderella was first orphaned, then enslaved before she tried on the glass slipper that changed her world." Also, in the traditional story of Sleeping Beauty, a fairy who was not invited to a party for the baby's birth put a curse on Sleeping Beauty—namely, that at the age of 16 she would prick her finger and die. A good fairy changed the curse so that Sleeping Beauty didn't die; instead, she was placed in a deep sleep, only to be awakened by the kiss of a prince. But even then, Sleeping Beauty slept for 100 years before she arrived at "happily ever after." During that prolonged sleep, her relatives mourned and her mother died of a broken heart. The Brothers Grimm concluded the original story with these honest words: "They lived happily ever after, as they always do in fairy tales, not quite so often, however, in real life."

Naomi Zacharias concludes:

We want the good part of the fairy tale … we have only preserved the idea of happily ever after. On the [movie] screen and in our minds we have rewritten the stories and forgotten about the battles the heroines chose to fight …. We have chosen to overlook the pain and the price that the players paid to find [love and justice].

But the honesty in the original fairy tales reminds us of another important lesson about following Christ: "This present world is not the best of all possible worlds. [Our imperfect world only leads] to the best of all possible worlds. Heaven is the happily ever after. Until then, we still live with frogs and century-long naps."

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