The Cinderella dilemma


I recently had about 12 hours to fill during a flight from LAX to Beijing. After eating and sleeping, I still had about 11 hours so I watched movies. One of the movies was Cinderella (2015 version with Lily James and Cate Blanchett).

At the pivotal point in the movie where Cinderella is to first see the prince after her glass slipper evening at the palace, the narrator shares her thoughts.

“Would who she was, who she really was, be enough? There was no magic to help her this time. This is perhaps the greatest risk that any of us will take: to be seen as we really are.”

I understand that I’m a middle-aged man drawing wisdom from Cinderella, but this struck me as being exceedingly profound. In fact, I think it’s a fundamental truth in our everyday existence.

How often do you ask the question: “Am I good enough?” Do you worry about being unmasked? Do you fear that you will be abandoned if the real you is exposed?

Here’s the good news. The truth has already been provided to us. Jesus taught us about God’s view of our acceptance/rejection in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). In the story, a father has two sons. The younger son asks for his inheritance before the father dies and the father (surprisingly) agrees. The younger son, after wasting his fortune, goes hungry during a famine and becomes so desperate that he longs to eat the food given to the hogs that he tends. He then returns home with the intention of repenting and begging his father to be made one of his hired servants, expecting that his relationship with his father is severed. Instead, the father runs to him and welcomes him back as his son. He then holds a feast to celebrate his beloved son’s return.

Don’t fear! Your true self is exactly what God desires. He loves the real you, mess and all. Call out to him and you’ll find that the answer to Cinderella’s question is: You are enough. No magic is required… just Jesus’ saving grace. There is no risk — you will be welcomed home with a party to follow!

[Footnote: If you’d like to study this parable further, I recommend Timothy Keller’s The Prodigal God.]

About Tony Schmitz

Tony Schmitz received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from Temple University in 1993, his MS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1996, and his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Florida in 1999. He is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
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