A Creature of Ash and Toil : A Cinderella Blog Series

I am in essence “A Creature of Ash and Toil”.

I’m not completely sure when this was said in the movie, but I recall being unearthed as it slipped through the cinema sound booth. It fell completely heavy on me. A creature of ash and toil caused me to pause because this is exactly how I feel sometimes. My Trotter Tribe made s’mores in the fire pit Saturday night and when we woke up the next morning, even though we had tossed water on the fire to extinguish the flames, the ash was still smoldering. Not to be a Debbie downer, but most days feel like I am simply putting fires out everywhere. I feel like the ash is still smoldering after spending the day wearing my rotator cuffs out chunking cups of water on every fire. Some days feel like no matter how much Water I toss on the flames they still smolder……

Some places I remain misunderstood.
Some tensions remain in relationships that once enjoyed easy fellowship.
Some new territories God is asking me to go evoke fear and reservation that I was sure were gone.
Sometimes disappointing others is inevitable.
Sometime I want to toss stones at every “dog that barks” only to realize that is keeping me from becoming who I need to be for Kingdom purposes.

The “ash and toil” to life causes me to run to the Garden and throw my head in my hands confessing, alongside Cinderella, that although I committed to “have courage and be kind” I in fact cannot. I just cannot. The strength can no longer be negotiated. I cannot muster the tenacity to give, forgive, have mercy on, call back and explain my position, grant grace, garner another disappointment, simplify another confusion….I just cannot Lord, Jesus I cannot.

I know I’m not the only one tossing their lovely salon processed locks on their kitchen counters given out of every ounce of emotional strength to even fill the glass one more time to pour over the smoldering embers…I KNOW I am not alone.

Before we know it we slowly gaze at the woman staring back at us in the mirror noticing the ash life has smudged across our cheeks and we start to believe, “I must simple be the woman they say…a creature of ash and toil.”
Then in a super nova quake we hear the statement we’ve nearly been waiting to fall hard on the whole time…we all hear the evil Step Mother character shout with a sinister toxin to our beings, “Mark my words, you shall NOT go to the ball.”

We crash into oblivion. Behind quiet, tidy lives we crash.

We hear “No” too many times.

We parent until our efforts soak pillows to the sheets with tears and come up with only the realization that we have to do it all over again tomorrow.

We get a vision of courage to launch into the deep waters only to realize the revelation was from the shoreline. Now that we’ve started walking out into the waves it’s harder than we thought to keep our eyes above the white squalls.

We face rejection in our marriage so many times we ache with exhaustion.

We beg for acceptance from man-made circles of cliques to no avail.

We play so many games with our relationships we can’t seem to just let go, hold loosely or move forward.

We come up with sore feet and wounded hands from the amount of times we’ve extended our lives to love and come up broken.

It may seem harsh, but it is the truth. I’ve cried hot tears with too many women at too many events, jails, halfway houses, inside breakfast clubs and outside preschool classes. I hear you, we get worn out hoping. We get so sore, bruised and tossed. I do. I pour on water and then I disappear. Heart and soul I just disappear. I hear the echo of what I’m supposed to be, even what I’ve promised to be and yet….I’m spilt in the Garden and find myself done.

Here is where Cinderella becomes our fairytale hero. It’s not because she gets swept off her feet by prince charming {although that is wonderful}, but it’s because she keeps negotiating a deeper well of strength. She’s broken and at the end, she’s made the ultimate confession that she cannot go on and not two seconds after she’s uttered the un-utterable a woman ugly beyond measure and brutally disfigured rises up of what seems to be a pile of rubble and she simply asks for some milk. Cinderella has reached unimaginable depths of emotional depletion and yet she raises her head to see beyond herself and without a thought immediately goes to pour out what she has, Water. She hands the cup to the woman and it becomes milk to Cinderella’s surprise. Because as the Fairy Godmother says, “kindness makes it everything.”

Her kindness becomes her healing.

We all know what happens from here. In our jaded humanness we can watch the unfolding scene with a fair amount of cynicism. We tip the belief meter to miracles happening in our life somewhere in the angst of adulthood and it grieves my soul to no end. I’ve seen you. I’ve felt you. I’ve been you. I have looked in your eyes and cried with you as I’ve heard stories and felt unbelief float thin and lifeless through the air. We feel frustrated because we can’t be Cinderella. We can’t snap our fingers and just have a Fairy Godmother. Sometimes we yell at our kids because we are just dog tired. Sometimes we can’t just “let it go” because we’ve let it go so many times we feel muddy from being stepped over. Sometimes we’ve been as bold as we could be in the fight against injustices that grieve our souls to the very core and yet come up for half breath only to find out we are slaves to a system that could care less about our sleepless night and tear stained pillows.

But, when I watched the scene when the Fairy Godmother takes over I didn’t see Cinderella doing more, or snapping her fingers, or magically transforming her I simply saw her finally unlocking the promises physically of how she had spent years intrinsically becoming more than the chaos of her exterior circumstances. As the Fairy Godmother takes charge and turns mice into horses, lizards into coachmen, a pumpkin into a princess coach and tattered slippers into enchanted glass prisms I see Cinderella simply doing what I know God wants us to do. Surrendering.

She asks that the Fairy Godmother not take away her mother’s torn dress, or eliminate who she is and where she came from she just asks that she make it New. She isn’t ashamed of who she is, she isn’t ashamed in her poverty {be it tangible or intangible} she just wants it to be Recreated into New Life. Then Cinderella simply opens her arms wide and allows the transformation to take place. Head back, arms out, heart released and expectations completely left to the Creator.

And wow. When the Fairy Godmother sets Cinderella on her feet she is indeed Recreated and breathtaking. But like any good mother should I leaned over to my daughters in this moment in the movie and whispered fighting back the tears trying to believe the statement that was about to burst from my mouth, “Baby girls her character of kindness has made her blue twirling dress and golden hair beautiful. Her life made her a princess. We are just finally seeing what she was all along, a Princess.”

Finally, as Cinderella is climbing into the coach with eyes forward and expectations already exceeded the Fairy Godmother has one more thing to say.

She looks her straight in the eye and says with all the courage of Creation, “For you SHALL go to the ball.

God wants to look deep into your eyes and speak Truth to what you’ve already forgotten. Life can break us down so deep that there are places that we’ve even forgotten have wounded us, but He bottles every tear and wants to speak Truth to every lie. Every. Single. Lie. He wants to not just heal the physical, but He wants to look deep and heal with Words that penetrate with pinpoint accuracy forgiveness, joy, grace, mercy and life to the words that the enemy has spoken with such cowardly shame – because no matter what you are facing you SHALL go.

You SHALL go to international missions.
You SHALL see victory in your parenting.
You SHALL see unity rise up in your marriage.
You SHALL help serve the broken world.
You SHALL be an active part of the Esther Generation.
You SHALL be an heir to the Throne of Grace….and you shall become it with confidence.

So slip on those beautiful glass prism shoes today and GO!

“For everyone who calls on the Name of the Lord will be saved. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’” {Romans 10:13-15}

“To grant those who mourn in Zion- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” {Isaiah 61:3}

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