Moms worry. (Virtual shrug.) It’s in the job description.
Though most widely used for storytelling around the year 1600, the phrase “Once upon a time…” has been used to open stories, primarily fairy tales, since the early 1300s. It’s associated with the well-known children’s works by Charles Perrault, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm.
No doubt you remember hearing it as a child. It’s something of a constant, isn’t it? But what I love about it is more that the nostalgia of story time as a kid. I like the expectation – we’re opening a story that we know has a struggle about it, but everything turns out right in the end. Right? The hero triumphs. The dragon will be slayed. Princesses always meet their princes and “…they all lived happily ever after.” It’s nice, isn’t it? To look at something through the lens of “Once upon a time” and know where it all leads.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t always follow suit. We think we know how the story is going to play out but sometimes, the tale takes us down a very winding road instead. There’s no way we can see the end while we’re on a journey like that. And even though the fairy tales are said to present lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity*, they sometimes feel too formulaic to be comparable to real life.
Once upon a time… there was a young girl.
She met her best friend. Married. Became a writer and mom to three boys. They all lived quite happily for a while. Then one day, her second son fell ill. She took him to the local healer, who said he needed the help of a group of healers at the hospital, one land away from theirs. So, she and her prince packed up the child and headed for the Children’s Hospital. They met many friends along the winding road, all promising to pray for the child. And once they came to the land of healing, the mom and her prince handed the son off to the healers, saying goodbye with a hug and a kiss. The mom was afraid, but the prince reminded her to stay strong in her faith because all the friends along the winding road were still praying for him…
Lucky for me, the story above has a happy ending. Our son’s surgery went well and the results were favorable. And they all lived happily ever after, right? Right, but in theory. What about when the test results aren’t what we’d hoped? What about when we receive a piece of bad news, another bill, another day of illness dawns? What then?
Following Christ is not a fairy tale; it’s faith in action
Whether our faith is strong or we find ourselves standing on shifting sand, Hebrews 11 speaks to the winding roads in our lives:
This is where faith and fiction collide.
In those pivotal moments in life (when the moms of the world have no control), we’ve got a decision to make. Do we trust Him? Do we let go when our heart is wheeled into surgery? Do we hand over the hurts and the fears, the impatience and tiny pinpricks of disbelief, and really, truly believe that everything will be in His hand? Believing in fairy tales and Once upon a time requires no faith because the ending is always the same. But to traverse the winding road, to make it to happily ever after despite our circumstances? That only comes with a real, living, breathing faith in Christ.
Just like the bedtime stories of childhood, happily ever after requires more than a good opening line; it requires a faith test and a heart triumph to get to the end. May you find your heart ministered by His nearness, especially when you find yourself in a moment that reminds you of “Once upon a time…”