I recently watched the 1998 version of Cinderella starring Drew Barrymore, called Ever After. Remember that one? What I love about the version of this story is that “Danielle” (aka Cinderella) is already the Heroine of her own story. That’s right, no need for Prince Charming, or a white horse to save the day. In fact, in the first scene when she meets the prince – he’s riding a black horse, which he stole. As he makes his escape in a fury, Danielle confronts him violently with a fistful of apples, causing him to topple off the horse. What a woman!
Danielle experiences every kind of abuse; neglect, abandonment, financial, psychological, physical, and sexual. She goes thru circumstances that in essence should completely annihalate her identity. But something inside Danielle allows her to keep her tenacity. She knows her identity… she knows who she is on the inside and doesn’t allow her outside circumstance to overcome her personhood. She fights to keep what’s hers (Physically and emotionally). At the end of the movie Danielle is sold to another man and just when hope seems lost – there she is again being the Heroine and literally fighting for her freedom – by demanding the key to unlock the shackles around her feet. In the closing scene we see the prince ride up to the castle and Danielle comes out smiling. You see – she had already done the hard work, she knew WHO she was, she knew her OWN VALUE, she knew she deserved freedom and she did what was necessary to get that freedom- no matter the cost. When she sees the Prince ride up, she asks him, “What are you doing here?”
I love this question because she wasn’t a woman waiting around for someone to make her complete and whole. She wasn’t twiddling her thumbs until someone came to rescue her and give her value. No, she watched the circumstance arise and took OWNERSHIP in that circumstance. She did what was necessary to defend her freedom, identity and value. She played a part in her own story – she was NOT a victim to her circumstance.
This theme of ownership continues to come back to me as I evaluate my own circumstance; abused, neglected, betrayed repeatedly by my husband, loss of income, loss of home, loss of hopes and dreams, loss of image, and the list could go on…
How does one defend their value? Claim my identity and walk in freedom? or what is it that causes some people to remain a victim to their circumstance and others to be like Danielle continuing to OWN their circumstance and keep rising every time they fall? After each betrayal they just keep getting up- even stronger than the last time? They know how to make healthy and sound decisions within the circumstance…
Based on my countless conversations with other recovering Heroines, my own journey and research; I would propose 3 things are necessary to becoming a Heroine in your own story:
- A Heroine must start from a place of honesty (Freedom)
- A Heroine must fall in love with the woman God created her to be (Identity)
- A Heroine must live in community with God and others (Value)
Along this journey I have learned that nothing will change unless I am facing reality and starting from a place of truth. I cannot get to freedom until I assess my situation honestly. As Dr. Henry Cloud says, “It’s a matter of being in touch with reality and what’s looking you straight in the face.”
So what stops me from honesty? Denial. The opposite of honesty is denial. I believe there are 3 types of denial; denial that our brain uses to protect itself from repressed trauma, denial that comes off in layers as we slowly begin to heal, and the most dangerous: denial that lies to us, tells us there is nothing wrong, keeps us trapped in situations where we keep playing a “role” but our spirit is dead. I call this deadly denial. Psychologist Patrick Doyle describes this denial as a “hardening of the heart” or “quenching the spirit”. (1 Thessalonians 5:19)
This kind of denial keeps us in the dark. It keeps us blind. It tells us to minimize others behavior or explain it away. This kind of denial keeps us from honestly looking at our own wounds and pain. Have you ever caught yourself saying things like, “oh he didn’t mean it” or “he was just upset- I probably didn’t speak respectfully enough” or “I’m fine- it’s fine.” Or “next time, I will learn a better way to bring up my hurt feelings” or “that’s just what men do” or how about this one? “Well its been like 2 years since he choked me – it was my fault – I shouldn’t have made him mad- it won’t happen again.” Sisters, that’s denial, and I have said every one of those phrases.
Think about this; how can a doctor treat a patient if they do not accurately assess the wound first? It is the same with you and I. If you are recovering from betrayal trauma or any form of abuse, you have been wounded. You are bleeding internally. Taking off the blinders of denial and dealing in honesty will lead toward spiritual and sometimes even physical freedom.
Author Francis Frangipane said, “Do not hide your darkness; expose it. Do not sympathetically make excuses for it; confess it. Hate it. Renounce it. For as long as darkness remains in darkness, it rules you. But when you bring darkness out into the light, it becomes light.”
The Lord wants freedom for you, Heroine- it is your inheritance!
Hebrews 5:14 says, “for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, Awake O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light!”
New Living Translation
Bring your situation to the light, expose it, ask for help, begin to deal in honesty. Sister, once my blinders came off, I spent the better part of a year walking around saying, “I didn’t know- I didn’t know that it was abuse.” I couldn’t make choices or begin to heal until that darkness was exposed to the light. I was the sleeper! I was dead inside from playing a “role” and pretending everything was okay – when it was not. I was bleeding to death on the inside. Still being betrayed and abused. Light did not start to enter my mind or spirit until the darkness was exposed and my blinders of denial came off.
John 8: 34-42
v. 36 “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” New Living Translation
In this passage Jesus was talking about being a slave to sin. The Jews didn’t know that they were in bondage to sin, ignorance, error, laws and superstitions, and they were in this bondage because they DIDN’T DEAL IN HONESTY. The Bible says they did not know the truth. They lived from a place of denial. Denying that Jesus was who He said He was- the Son of God.
Hmmm… so what is my bondage?
My place of honesty begins by looking at how I have been in bondage to dysfunction; If I remain in denial then I will remain in bondage to codependency, people pleasing, fearing man above God, unhealthy coping patterns to mask my pain, not taking responsibility for myself and a lack of boundaries, idolatry of family and marriage. Jesus said – I am the Son and whoever stands in agreement with me, and believes me, becomes free! He said, “You are free because I am the Son!” Those who are made free, remain free indeed. The truth (honesty) MAKES us FREE. Those who truly know the Lord Jesus are DELIVERED, they walk in light and are led by the Spirit.
What hope!! I AM free to live from a place of reality, free from denial, free from living in the same patterns of dysfunction. FREE from trying the same thing over and over and expecting a different result! Free from pleasing man above God and playing a “role”.
Put another way in John 8:12 Jesus said,
“I am the LIGHT of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” New Living Translation
I like to read that verse like this:
”Beloved, I am TRUTH, deal in honesty woman! If you follow me and my words – you won’t have to people please, or be codependent or walk in dysfunction – because you will have TRUTH that leads to a healthy life.”
My dear sister, what do you need to view in honesty in order to walk in freedom? Has denial been keeping blinders over your eyes? Has denial been keeping you in bondage? Owning the denial and living from a place of honesty is the first step in being the Heroine in your own story.
YOU CAN WALK FREE.
Preview to: Becoming a Heroine Part 2, Identity
The ‘Leah Place’ – remember the story of Leah and Rachel from the Bible? The two sisters who had many children by the same man. Rachel was the favorite and Leah was not. In my opinion, Leah is the Heroine of this story because she became the Heroine of her OWN STORY. She became an owner rather than letting the circumstance happen to her. She was abused, mistreated and neglected. She desperately wanted the love of her husband but was emotionally neglected. (Sound familiar?) However by the time Leah had her last child she figured it out the secrect to becoming a Heroine. She experienced herself thru the eyes of God. She loved herself within God’s love for her. In her book, Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible, author Liz Curtis Higgs puts it like this, “[Leah] experienced herself as God’s beloved, despite the fact that she had no love or validation from her husband. Judah was born and she “praised the Lord”.”
My dear sister, in order to move from victim of circumstance to becoming the Heroine we must have our identity firmly rooted in WHO GOD says I am. I must fall in love with the woman God created me to be … I must experience MYSELF as the beloved of God…. I must love myself within God’s love FOR me….