I have always adored Cinderella, but the new movie in theaters has only grown my love for the story and lessons to be learned from that simple girl who chose to be courageous and not let the negative voices in her life determine her happiness.
I took along my niece and son to see the film opening weekend, but I really went for myself because I knew deep down I was the one who needed to hear the story it would tell. A story of choosing a life of freedom in spite of a series of painful losses and disappointments, Cinderella inspired me just when I was wanting to give in to the temptation to give up the intentional efforts we must all put into living free.
I connected most with how she handled her grief. The fact that she chose to mourn her losses and then let their legacies inspire her rather than destroy her spoke volumes to me.
Grief is such a confusing process that isn’t talked enough about in our world, and I applaud the writers of this movie for doing such a beautifully effective job of teaching a powerful lesson about it. It’s our tendency to want to gloss over the devastating parts of people’s stories so we can be inspired by their “happily ever afters.” In doing that, however, we miss out on some rich truths that we will need when it is our turn to grapple with grief, not to mention we will miss the real inspiration that comes from seeing what others have found freedom over.
Loss of any kind, whether it’s death, a way of life that’s familiar, moving, changing vocations, dietary or health restrictions, or aging is accompanied by grief. While the results of the change can even be mostly positive, it’s still natural to go through a period of grieving that which was lost in order to gain a better way of life.
Cinderella experienced many forms of loss. She first lost her mother, and along with that, the carefree feelings of security of childhood. I loved how the narrator explained how she didn’t become ruined by this childhood loss, “They mourned their loss and over time allowed their sadness to turn into happy memories.”
None of us have a choice about being changed by big losses, but we do have a choice in how we change. How will handle our grief? Cinderella’s kindness and empathy only grew as she went through more loss. Her step-mother, on the other hand, chose to walk the road of bitterness and entitlement. Neither road will be smooth all the way, but it’s a courageous choice to stay on the road of kindness, especially when we meet bitter people who tempt us to give up and join them in their misery.
Another thing that I found inspiring in Cinderella’s story is that she was able to find a “happily ever after” with the prince because of the losses she’d endured and chosen to grieve properly. I’m sure she would have been a lovely young lady if she’d had the opportunity to grow up with all of the same privileges that she had as a girl, but she wouldn’t have been the courageous, grateful woman that caught the eye of the prince. She would have just been another girl who blended into the crowd at the ball rather than the smart, humble, compassionate woman whom the prince couldn’t get out of his head.
The more I learn about grieving in my own life, the more I understand that it truly is because of painful loss that we are able to gain a greater life. Without losing, we can’t fully appreciate what we do have. We don’t know courage until we have to live through experiences that seemed impossible, and we won’t comprehend grace and love until we realize that we would be eternally lost without them.