Taking a break from my tales tonight to reflect on something that’s been both an inspiration and a frustration to me as I’ve been writing them. My husband and I recently discovered the ABC show, “Once Upon A Time.” We loved it from the first episode, and have been watching it almost every night for the last six weeks or so.
But what started out as a really truth-filled, faith-bolstering fairy tale seems to have lost its way in the episodes we’ve watched recently. The most disappointing choice that the writers have made is in Snow White’s storyline. (Warning: spoilers ahead. If you’re a fan and haven’t yet gotten to the end of Season 2, you may want to read this post after you do.) You see, Snow White’s “talent” was that she was pure of heart. Even faced with the darkest acts of evil, she was always able to see the potential for future redemption in her enemy.
But then, Snow made a dark choice herself. She chose vengeance rather than love. That, in itself, was not disappointing to me, because that made her human. It made her relate-able. The disappointing part is the way that the show presents her redemptive path.
Rather than showing that love, repentance, and forgiveness are the key ingredients in redemption, it is instead required that Snow earn her redemption by doing good deeds, specifically toward those whom she has hurt. But even when she has done these things, Snow is still tormented by the knowledge that there is a dark spot in her previously pure heart. It seems that the show’s writers understand that good deeds can never equal redemption; but they don’t know what to do with that fact, so they just send Snow on an endless journey, attempting to earn her purity back and purge the darkness from her soul.
Isn’t this just like what so many of us do? We feel that there is something wrong in our hearts–that we’re not pure as we ought to be–but we don’t know what to do with that knowledge. So, we just keep trying to do our best–to give to charity, to be kind to our children, to volunteer at the local public school or soup kitchen, to recycle and compost our trash–but we never seem to quite expunge the guilt that lies underneath our conscious thoughts day after day.
Here’s the hard truth, one that the “Evil Queen” tells Snow in the show: There is no way to remove the dark spot in our hearts. Like Lady Macbeth, we are doomed to spend our lives crying “Out, damned spot!” and wringing our hands in futility. Unless…
Unless we invite the One who truly is pure of heart to take the stain from our souls. Y’shua (Jesus) is the only one who has the “magic” necessary to clean our hearts. He doesn’t require that we perform a list of good deeds or ritualistic activities to earn His love and favor. All we have to do is ask, and believe, that He can free us from the unwieldy weight of our own bad choices, and He will. He will clean our hearts and restore us to the relationship with God that we all deeply long for. Whether we’ve been believers for a long time, or are just now finding our hearts opened to acknowledge God’s existence, we need to know that it’s not our own efforts that can save us from ourselves. It is only God’s effort on our behalf.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “Fairy tales are more than true, not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that they can be beaten.” Jesus took the punishment that we deserve–death–and then he overcame it, like a knight defeating the world’s most gruesome dragon. Like the fairy-tale prince that He is, Jesus overcomes evil and offers to rescue our hearts, if we’ll let him.
I hope that “Once Upon A Time’s” Snow White finds some peace, but whether the show’s writers figure out a way to do that or not, I’m grateful that the Author of my fairy tale has written a “Happily Ever After” ending, and that He invites us all to partake in it.
We can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle