We are all familiar with the story of the lovely and kind young girl, Cinderella, who lived with her step mother and two, not so lovely or kind, stepsisters.
In the story, the King and Queen, anxious for their son to marry, arranged a Ball, inviting all the eligible maidens from the kingdom to attend. With such a variety of maidens to choose from, surely, one of them would catch the Prince’s eye!
The invitation arrived at Cinderella’s house causing a flurry of excitement. But Cinderella’s excitement was quickly doused by her stepsisters’ snide remarks.
“Cinderella,” they said with disdain, “what are you so excited about? You can’t go. What are you going to wear? That?” With an audible sniff, they turned and walked off..
Days passed, and finally the evening of the ball arrived. The less than lovely stepsisters paraded around in their over-the-top finery, taking great delight in taunting Cinderella. They flounced into their coach and off to the ball, leaving Cinderella behind. Although her disappointment was great, her spirit wasn’t shattered.
Enter one fairy godmother, who, after quickly assessing the situation, transformed Cinderella’s rags into a knock-your-socks-off designer gown, complete with perfectly formed glass slippers. The magic continued as the Fairy Godmother transformed a pumpkin into a golden carriage. Cinderella stepped into the carriage offering a dazzling smile of gratitude and a hug. With a quick reminder that the magic would end at the stroke of midnight (an effective curfew technique) Cinderella was off to the Ball.
Cinderella was enchanting, and quickly caught the Prince’s eye. They danced and danced, caught up in the magic. The chime of the clock announcing the arrival of midnight, broke the spell, and Cinderella quickly fled the Ball before she was transformed back into her rags. The prince chased after her, but found nothing but a glass slipper, the only clue to her identity.
Dejected, he set out to find the owner of the slipper. Visiting every home in the kingdom, he tried the delicate slipper on the foot of each eligible maiden. He finally arrived at the home of Cinderella and her two less than lovely stepsisters. Of course the shoe did not fit either of the step sisters, as you can only imagine that their feet were less than lovely too. Cinderella approached the prince for her turn to try on the slipper. Filled with fear that the shoe might fit, the sisters knocked it to the floor, shattering the only clue to the future princess’ identity. The Prince was filled with a combination of anger and loss, but Cinderella, gently touched him on the shoulder, and pulled out the mate. She slipped her foot in, a perfect fit.
Don’t you just love a good fairy tale? Certainly, this could never happen in real life, you say. Not so quick. There are some important considerations for us in this tale.
Cinderella had taken a lifetime to ready herself for the opportunity at the ball. Each of us is in the same situation – those times when preparation meets opportunity. You may initially scoff at my suggestion that if you make the proper preparations, your prince will come. “It’s just a fairy tale. These kinds of things don’t happen in real life.”
Now I understand that the story of Cinderella is just that – a story. That does not mean, however, that we cannot learn from it. You, too, must find a way to convert your weaknesses into strengths, failures into successes, challenges into opportunities.
Any rags, pumpkins, or stray mice lying around?
Let’s look together at the preparations you must make. And by the way, you, too, have a protector – the Holy Spirit – who will help you make the necessary alterations.
Preparing Your Attitude. What is the necessary attitude needed to become a princess? You must have the conviction that you deserve a prince of a man.
It surprises me how many women have attitudes of discouragement and pessimism.
You must believe that you can find a good man, that you deserve a good man, and that you can attract a good man. You must make yourself available and take the risks necessary to attract your prince. If you are not at that point yet, don’t despair. You simply have some work to do.
Preparing Your Expectations. Unlike Cinderella, you have no magic wand. Your preparation must interact with God’s timing. That means you must guard your expectations about timing. It may take time, and testing, before you are ready for your prince.
It is important to expect a man who will work on the relationship with you, who will strive to deepen his emotional and spiritual life, and who will commit himself to you completely and faithfully. Too many women settle for too little from their men. Consider raising the bar. Settle for nothing less than a relationship filled with zest, emotional warmth, spiritual integrity, and, yes, commitment.
Preparing Your Presentation. A princess is not overly demanding, arrogant, or critical. She is elegant and classy. She has a way of insisting on what she needs and being clear when expressing her needs and desires.
Katherine, a client of mine, is a woman in her 50s. She has an air of confidence and a bold, spiritual depth. Previously married, Katherine has grappled with painful aspects of her divorce. She suffered as people within the church said hurtful things about her. But she always carried herself with dignity. She survived the divorce and gradually moved into dating.
Katherine shares about her experience.
“After my divorce I wasn’t ready to be in a relationship. I was bitter, angry. I had lots of resentment toward my ex and toward men. Even after I started dating, I didn’t put my best foot forward, and attracted the wrong kind of men. It took me really forgiving myself for the failed marriage and allowing God to heal my hurt. I changed my attitude and my wardrobe, and that’s when miracles started to happen.”
Katherine married recently, having met a minister who had been widowed several years earlier. Today they enjoy a vibrant and dynamic ministry.
Preparing Your Vision. After you’ve prepared your attitude, clarified your expectations and honed your presentation, you’ll need a firm vision. A firm vision is a picture you carry in your mind of your prince.
A client named Joan shares her vision. “I want a Christian man who is loving, tender and kind. He needs to be athletic, love children and be interested in travel. He needs to be compassionate and have a heart for the hurting and less fortunate in the world.”
Studies show that the more clearly and precisely you describe your vision, the more likely you are to achieve it. Envision the kind of man you want. Prayerfully share with the Lord the dreams you have and let Him help you with the rest.
Preparing Your Heart. Having prepared your attitude, expectations, presentation and vision, you must make sure your heart is right. The scriptures encourage us to “Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4: 23). This is a huge challenge, for it seems we either allow our hearts to be battered and bruised, lock them in a vault, safe and secure from any possible intruder.
The task is to take healthy, discerning risks. If you have learned from experience, made corrections to your attitude, spent time in the Word, listened to God’s voice through the counsel of healthy friends – you can take calculated risks in your dating life.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
When the princess is ready, the prince will appear. Is that a gilded carriage I hear approaching?
David Hawkins, PhD., has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years.
He is the author of over 18 books, including "Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage," "Saying It So He'll Listen," and "When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You." His newest book is titled "When the Man in Your Life Can’t Commit." Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on Puget Sound, where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.