When I was growing up, men were not highly regarded in my family. A series of dysfunctional relationships, some of which I will never know the depths of, led women in my family to choose disrespect over honor, “ruling” over submission, and competition over desiring the best for the men in their lives. I grew up longing for a man I could love and honor, and yet fearing that a man would hurt me or desert me.
I am the Cinderella in each of us — in my broken state, I have longed for my Prince Charming. He’s big and strong and handsome. He’s gentle and will never hurt me. He places me on a pedestal of honor and earns my submission with his kindness and protection for me.
Over time, my hope in the existence of Prince Charming eroded, and I lost faith in ever having my fairy-tale husband. Gently my Papa reminded me that every girl’s first dream man is her daddy, and ultimately, God is the perfect Daddy. Still, I believed He longed to bless me with the prince who would hold my hand and heart here in the Shadowlands.
Flash forward — my dream wedding night, I said “I do” forever-ish to the man I knew would be the fulfillment of all those fantasies. He loved God and promised to love me. Unfortunately ( fortunately for me), he also came to the altar with broken dreams rekindled on our meeting. And he was just as humanly ill-equipped to meet my desires as I was to meet his.
A few more years, and sweet moments, and yelling moments, and teary nights, and tender snuggles, and sweet love, and five babies, and lost jobs, and new hopes, and here we stand.
Lately, my Papa has been showing me in a new way that through these 13 years, this son of Adam has been my friend. He has been my brother, and he has become my true love — the man of my dreams. And my dreams have changed.
Now my fantasy prince is a man who is strong and quiet (except when he’s not). He is tender and kind to our children (except when he’s human). He is faithful and honors me. He pushes me to become more like God and he cheers me on to pursue my artistic dreams… no matter how many times they shift and morph into new ones. He holds my hand, and he provides for me, and he is not perfect.
More than anything, though, I have been awed to see our Papa working in him in new ways. Markedly (for me) he has shown me grace repeatedly when I don’t deserve it. Yes, like me, he has lashed out in moments of frustration. In those moments, I forget all the good and still, like the little girl afraid of desertion, I want to run from this man. Sometimes I silently vow I will never trust again.
But gently, my Papa pries open my heart and, through this man, He shows me what grace and forgiveness look like.
Love always hopes, love always perseveres, love never fails.
My trust is not in this man – it is in my Prince of Peace. But while I walk here in the Shadowlands, I am in awe that He has sent me this prince to walk alongside me.
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