The first time believing in fairy tales betrayed me, I was 10-years-old. I was cruising along the quaint sidewalks of my picturesque 50’s neighborhood grateful for the spring day and sunny afternoon. I was lazily peddling the 10-speed bike I received for my birthday, dreamily singing, “So this is Love…” from Disney’s Cinderella. As I hummed and mused over what love would be like someday, I remember being filled with hopeful anticipation.

Daydreams met harsh reality when suddenly I found myself on the ground, bike entangled with my right leg, and a bloodied knee on the left. I couldn’t get away from the bike, or get it off of me; the sabotage was my own—laces, untied, had been caught in the mesh of chain and gears. More than anything, I remember feeling offended, “How dare such a glorious train of thought be interfered with by a crash of that magnitude?” How could my fairy tale enchantment be met with such grief?

My retired neighbor allowed his gardening to be interrupted, and he walked across the street to make sure I was okay. He helped liberate me from the two-wheeled weight that was still fastened. Grateful to the hero that helped me up, but also humbled and embarrassed, I slowly retreated back into the sanctuary of my home. This wouldn’t be the last time chasing fairy tales would both seduce and forsake me, nor the last time I retreated through those doors seeking relief.

As a teenager I didn’t navigate the dance between childhood and adulthood well. I threw myself at experiences and made choices for which I had no bearings. Choices that put me within the grasp of shadows that wound deeply. I ran after a love that I thought would heal me, only to find it leading me into darkness I could not comprehend. Darkness, that made me it’s own, and exposed me to abuses I hope my children never know.

There I sat, hurting, broken. Some pieces of my soul now chained to shame, and some bloody from scraping against hard places. In the quiet places where I cowered, shocked by all that had come about, I began to awaken to hope that there was more, that things were not meant to be forever bleak, and that there was a love that could save. A love brought by a Savior who allowed for His dwelling in heaven to be interrupted so He could lift the heads of the fallen and say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12 ESV). I surrendered to Jesus, and found myself rescued from darkness, leaning into light.

For the first time I tasted  hope that was anchored to something deeper and truer than anything the Grimm Brothers, Hans Christen Anderson, or Nicholas Sparks could have dreamed. It was a hope written by the author and perfecter of faith, the one who knew all—beginning to end, and the one who knew what I was truly created for. It was a profound love that surpassed the reaches of humanity and it was woven by the Divine.

Years later, I am still amazed at the beautiful redemption He has ushered me into. I have seen dreams surpassed and yearn to see the light spread. I have seen my own life restored and have had the joy of seeing God use his true tale of the greatest love to restore others. He has invited me into the sanctuary of His kingdom not as a shamed slave but as a friend—as His beloved.

Photo credit: Aih. via Visual Hunt / CC BY

Chara Donahue

Chara is a freelance writer who is busy at work on her first book. She also enjoys doing biblical counseling, speaking to women, and eating copious amounts of dessert when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God's truths. She longs to be a voice that says, "Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all." You can find more from Chara at her blog Anchored Voices and on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue