My Girls ~
Right now, you are in your princess phase, which I’ve chosen to fully embrace.
Because, Ellie, your little heart longs to be a princess. As is the case for most five-year-old girls. You filter your perception of the world through princess lore and My Little Pony, both of which I’ve found surprisingly helpful when discussing a variety of abstract concepts—such as courage and loyalty, friendship and kindness.
We even critique princess stories together. Recently, after reading a new book to you—one that I didn’t like much at all—I sat back and asked what you thought about the princess.
“Well …” you searched my face for an answer, as I tried to play poker. Finally, you shrugged, “She’s really not very smart, Mama.”
I laughed aloud. “What do you mean?”
You proceeded to explain how the princess had failed to think for herself, have courage, or fight for her freedom (of course, my heart was bursting with pride at this point).
“But she is pretty,” you concluded.
And I’m reminded of a something I’d heard a few weeks before. Of a well-meaning mother who, for sake of keeping up with the “Southern Belle” standard that still thrives in many pockets of The South, told her little girl, “You know, you’re not a princess if your hair is tangled or your nails dirty.”
My face burned hot when I first heard this story. But then, I was raised in The South; I know this pressure … I still feel it quite a bit myself. I believe this woman is trying to be a good mother in many ways, but girls, please hear me—it is the heart of the princess that counts—not clean nails, combed hair, or a pretty face.
So, what do I mean by the heart of a princess? From my view, here is how I see it:
1. She is a participant in her own story. She isn’t simply a passive, pretty face. She speaks; she thinks; she acts. This is her story, and she takes hold of it.
2. Yet she makes room for supporting characters. She recognizes that she can’t do everything on her own, and that she, in fact, needs others. So she finds like-minded, kindred spirits to journey with her.
3. She develops her talents in service to the world. As she discovers her gifts, she looks for ways in which they can serve others.
4. And delights in the talents of her sisters. She has the confident security to live out her calling—her purpose—without feeling threatened or jealous. She knows that comparison is the thief of joy.
My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
5. She is compassionate, forgiving, and kind. She may not always achieve these ideals, but she strives towards them daily. She sees the good in people—even when there is little to see—and in turn, she brings out their best.
Beauty and The Beast
6. But when necessary, she is willing to fight for truth. She does not confuse kindness for weakness. She knows the difference, and when goodness is threatened, she calls up courage to fight injustice.
The Lord of the Rings
7. Her strength emerges from her heart, her mind, her spirit. She nurtures her heart to seek truth, but knows that the heart often needs its own guide in this labyrinthine life journey. A strong heart requires a mind in pursuit of wisdom and a spirit guided by faith.
The Chronicles of Narnia
8. Yet she is humble enough to acknowledge her weaknesses. She has the perseverance to face challenges, often overcoming barriers, but she knows her limits and her weaknesses. These limitations she acknowledges to herself, extending grace, viewing them as an opportunity to reach out to others for assistance.
9. She believes in the intrinsic value and worth of mankind. She pursues justice and compassion, believing that people are worthy of dignity and love. This calls for her to step outside the shelter of her safe, comfortable castle and touch the world around her.
10. And she uses this belief to bring healing to a broken world. She sees the pain, and she seeks to heal … even if only in a small way, recognizing that if she brings peace to one beautiful soul, then it is entirely worth it.
Her nails may be dirty, her hair tangled, her clothing stained, but girls, do not let this fool you. This likely means she is doing her job. The truth is, I’m suspicious of a princess who is too clean, too pressed, too rested, too put-together. This tells me that she hasn’t lived much beyond the confines of her castle.
And girls, I pray that you do. That you travel far and wide, seeing both the broken and the beautiful. That you learn what you love and how you love. Then, that you go out and be a healer. This is the heart of a princess.