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A Pink Mountain and a Real Cinderella

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Real Love in a Real Marriage...

Passing on Truth to our Daughters as they prepare for, or live out their love in, marriage

1) Is True Love real?

Pink Mountain Summer Nights in Alaska

The mountain is blazing with color tonight. It’s reflecting the sun’s somewhat-setting hues off the snowcapped peaks after 11pm. Daylight still shines brightly here in Alaska as we melt into June 1st in the next hour, keeping true night at bay. We’ve paid our dues in darkness over the winter months and the long, summer sun burns away our memory of what we have endured. For now the mountain is spectacular with brilliance and warmth. I want to capture it in a photo but I know the camera won’t do it the justice it deserves, and I think I can do a better job with description, as opposed to the old adage “a picture is worth 1,000 words”.

This mountain I see out our window every day never moves, but it changes constantly. Sometimes it is beautiful and bold with a blue sky behind it, boasting its peaks and crevasses clear as crystal cuts. At other times it’s in a misty fog and you can barely trace its outline. On clear summer nights when the sun goes partially down but never fully sets, the color is captivating as it is tonight. Then there are those unsettling times when the clouds are so heavy and thick you cannot see them at all, and you just simply trust that they are still there.

This reminds me of love in my marriage. There are days where I am crazy “in love” with my husband and I think he is the most wonderful man for me on the planet. I’m ablaze with feelings that confirm my decision to marry him 30 years ago. Then there are moments where I look at him and wonder how in the world we ended up together. The loving feelings are completely clouded over by our differences and sinfulness. There is no feeling of warmth and brilliance in our love, and I just have to trust our commitment to one another and choose to love out of obedience to God. I know the feeling will reappear at some point when the clouds of sin and hurt have moved on with the wind of forgiveness and grace that we inevitably choose.

This mountain--marriage -- is ours as a testament to our choices to put one another above others, to put one another above ourselves, and to seek God for strength when our selfish human tendencies pull us in a different direction. As a reflection on the concept of “real marriage” I see hope in the changing faces of the mountain. It reminds me that the exact same entity can appear very different based on the atmosphere around it. The climate created by our hearts, our words, our actions, and our choices makes all the difference. I have no power over the mountain’s climate out my window, but I have so much power over the climate surrounding my marriage. I create the climate by how I feed my soul, how I think about our relationship and our problems, how I pray about us, and what I choose to do when we are together, and even sometimes when we are apart. Whether I choose to smile and look up when he comes through the door, or whether I withhold a greeting and maintain focus on what I’m doing…such simple behaviors create a different kind of breeze blowing between us. One brings in a misty cloud, and another shines a brighter light on the commitment that exists.

Describing a beautiful mountain with words is a challenge, but possible. Describing a beautiful marriage will hopefully prove to be possible as well. I don’t want to describe something that isn’t real. If no beauty exists, I don’t want to paint a picture of something false. The pink mountain is real, though, and it’s the same mountain that can be pale, colorless, and hidden. Painting it to be the majestic, noteworthy landscape is completely within our power based on the strokes of love we paint with, and the eye of the beholder who chooses the lens from which to peer. Choose pink, not gray. Be generous with orange, and spare not the bold colors of the heart. Paint the beauty that enhances, not the cloud that covers.

2) Is the ‘Cinderella Ideal’ Real?

Since my older daughter was little we called her Cinderella. She was the worker. The one people sometimes overlooked. She had a heart of service, and tended to do the dutiful things that needed to be done—chores, homework, behind the scenes tasks. She was teased in high school for wearing overalls. She never wore make-up, and she just wasn’t flashy. She took a semester off from high school and home-schooled herself so she could leave Alaska to go down to Florida and live with my elderly mom and take care of her while my dad was in an extended care facility for several months. She had the pre-prince/pre-castle Cinderella down! In her sophomore year of college she met her husband and was married at the end of her junior year. Our Cinderella—the REAL Cinderella—was chasing the dream. Is there really a “happily ever after” for young women who marry today?

If no beauty exists in marriage, I don’t want to spin a fairy tale. That would be so unfair to our daughters. I do believe that beautiful, real marriages exist—not by marrying the prince, but by being the loving princess in relationship with a strong and committed, godly man. The “happily ever after” becomes a reality not by moving to the castle and being waited on, but by staying in the daily, provincial life and finding meaning and purpose in tasks that meet the needs of our loved ones and teach us how to build our character and reflect Jesus through our lifetime commitment to Him and to our spouse.

Katie (our “Cinderella”) finished her Bachelor’s in Accounting, landed a full-time job as an accountant at a mid-sized accounting firm while helping to put her husband through Law School, became pregnant two months after graduating and one month into Tax Season, spent months being very sick with her pregnancy while working, had a beautiful baby boy in “overtime” (quite past her due date), took 3 months off, and then went back to work. She maybe didn’t feel like a princess, but I believe a real princess would persevere under adversity and would rise above the difficulties to meet the challenges. She would manage her own feelings and press on, doing what she knew she needed to do to meet the needs of her family and to answer the call of service and love.

The reward of having a fruitful career, a husband successfully advancing through Law school, and an intact, loving and well-functioning family is something that only comes through sacrifice, determination, and commitment. There’s no way around the hard work. You have to put the hours in and you have to sacrifice your own desires to meet the challenge. At the age of 21 Katie made this commitment looking every bit as beautiful as the fairy tale Cinderella, but the living out the commitment wasn’t always as pretty. Sometimes it meant 65 hour work weeks, all through tax season, vomiting from morning sickness in between tax forms. Sometimes it meant being ok with her husband going to play basketball so he could have a break from the responsibility of a young family and the stress of Law school when she would have preferred to have him home to help do laundry, or just be home with her and their son. Sometimes it meant being homesick because she moved thousands of miles away from home to follow her husband to the place he could pursue his dream. Her attitude makes all the difference in how she chooses to experience her situation. If she can maintain thankfulness for all God has given her, choose love for her husband and son, and can keep her focus on God and His Word, deciding on contentment in her stage of life, then she will be happy.

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