Growing up with my sister, Hallie, I loved breakfast because each morning I never knew who would be joining me. Would it be Cinderella, or Snow White, or Belle? I don’t have any memories of my sister as a little girl in anything other than princess costumes. She was constantly twirling or singing or “sweeping” around the house.
These fairy tale images of my sister circled my thoughts as I prepped for what I was going to say on her wedding day. And as I went through the different parts of the wedding ceremony, I was struck by the inexplicably mythic nature of it all. The beautiful young maiden walking down a long aisle as ethereal music fills the space, the strapping young lad anxiously and nervously awaiting her arrival with a look of pure delight at the sight of her, the giving away by her father, the making of vows, the exchanging of rings, the great cloud of witnesses. This is the stuff of fairy tales.
Here is what I said:
Hallie, as your big brother, I want to say you have always been a princess and Ben, now as your big brother and as much as I tried not to like you because no one is good enough for my little sister, you are a prince and I have seen you fight for the heart of my sister.
I’ve pleaded with God several times this week to tell me what He wants you two to hear today and I think it is this: Today is not your “happily ever after.” Today is your “once upon a time.” Your story has not reached its conclusion today. No, it’s just begun. The journey that lies ahead is risky and exciting, fraught with great danger and great hope. You will still encounter dragons that need slaying and wolves that need out-smarting and witches that need poisoning. But at this end of this journey and throughout it, you will also encounter beautifully timeless truths and joys because through it you will discover who you really are.
Today, start praying to the One who created you, who knit you together, asking Him to show you what He had in mind when He thought up the other. Ben, ask Him to reveal to you what He had in mind when He thought up Hallie. Hallie, ask Him to reveal to you what He had in mind when He thought up Ben. And from this day on, make a commitment in your heart before your God, to be bold in speaking what He reveals to you about the other. As it says in Ephesians 4:15, “Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.”
Tim Keller, one of my favorite pastors and authors wrote a book on marriage and my favorite line in the book is when Tim is talking about how his wife sees him. He says “When the world looks at me, they may see Clark Kent, but wife knows that underneath I have on blue underwear.”
In Beauty and the Beast, the real enemy is not the chauvinistic, narcissist Gaston but rather it is Belle and the Beast themselves. It is their beastliness which needs to be slain. The Beast with his obviously horrific exterior but also Belle who’s outward beauty is simply covering a very hard, self-righteous and cold heart. But throughout their fairy tale, being forced together within the walls of the castle, they begin to draw out what is lovely and also what is most true in the other. The Beast becomes more compassionate and slower to anger and Belle becomes more vulnerable and trusting.
You both declared before us today that Jesus is your Savior. In Jesus we are all new creations. We are no longer defined by our sin but made princes and princesses of God. That is who we truly are. But this life is not our happily ever after, so it is a fight to believe it. In marriage, God graciously gives us someone to fight for us to believe the truth about who we really are. The Beast was always a prince and Belle a princess, but sin disguised that.
Things are never what they seem. To see clearly you must see with the eyes of your heart. That is the secret of every fairy tale, because it is the secret of the Gospel.
The Gospel says we have a creator King who made us in his image as princes and princesses but a serpent came and brought a curse of sin which changed us into beasts. Into selfish, adulterous, hard-hearted beings. But a faraway Prince, who knew who we really were left his kingdom in search of us. And in order to restore us as princes and princesses, He, himself became the beast that needed to be slain.
On the cross, Jesus, the True Prince, the Son of God, became our beastliness so that we could become what we always were, princes and princesses of the Most High King. 2 Cor. 5:21 states, “God made Him (Jesus) who knew no sin to be sin so that through Him we might be the righteousness of God.” Ben, you stand up here today as a prince clothed in the righteousness of Christ. Hallie, you stand up here today as a princess clothed in the righteousness of Christ.
And Jesus’ resurrection from the grave for ever declares our “happily ever after.”
But until we see our True Prince face to face, while we are still living in the “once upon a time”, some days you’ll look at the other and see only a beast. But because of the cross and 2 Cor. 5:21, you can smile and say to the other “I’m so glad it’s all about grace.” Amen.
Although this was written for Hallie and Ben, I thought you could use the reminder too. Go home to your other. You have worked hard enough today.