A few years back, Disney remade the classic fairytale Cinderella. When I was a little girl, I grew up with the cartoon version and can still close my eyes and imagine her sparkling ball gown, glass slippers, and magical pet mice. Skeptical that anything could be better than the animated one of my childhood, I delayed seeing the modern-day take of this classic tale. Sure, I heard the buzz on social media, and friends told me it was incredible, but I still didn’t rush to the theaters to watch it. Call me a purist.
Then one day on a long flight home, I watched the film on a small airplane screen the size of my palm. Bad technology aside, this movie proved to be a beautiful tale and blew away my expectations. I found myself, as an adult woman, swept away by the same hopes and fears the classic evoked in me as a little girl. This time around, I beheld something deeper and more meaningful in the story. Cinderella mirrors the Greatest Story of all—the transforming truth found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Just like the Gospel message, Cinderella breaks down into three acts: Creation, Fall, and Redemption.
Scene 1 CREATION
Just as Adam and Eve lived in perfect harmony with God in the Garden of Eden and enjoyed sweet fellowship with Him, Cinderella begins with a daughter, Ella, beloved and cherished by two adoring parents. In the opening scene, all is good and right in her world, just as it was for humanity before evil shattered perfection. Adam and Eve lived in perfect security and never knew want or sorrow—all their needs were met by God. (Genesis 1-2)
Scene 2 THE FALL
Ella experiences goodness and love until tragedy strikes and she loses both of her parents at a young age. At this point, she became a ward of her evil stepmother and was terrorized by her wicked stepsisters. Her tormenters change her name from Ella to Cinderella—depicting her oppression. Like Cinderella, Adam and Eve experienced separation from God when sin entered the world and all humanity thereafter became captive to our enemy, Satan, who rules and reigns over the fallen world. Cinderella’s captivity in the attic and her tattered dress are powerful symbols of her fallen state—and humanity’s—when in bondage to Satan. (Genesis 3)
Scene 3 REDEMPTION
All great stories hinge on redemption—when the evil spell is broken or a love restored. These stories strike a chord deep in our souls because they echo the greatest story of all—God’s redeeming love that paid the ultimate price to rescue His children. In the fairytale, all hope seems lost for our heroine until Cinderella encounters a young prince while riding her horse in the forest. The Prince, who will ultimately rescue her from imprisonment to the evil stepmother, in many ways is a Christ-like symbol. Jesus is the one who ultimately sets us free from the real enemy, and the Prince mirrors Christ’s redeeming love for us.
One of the most amazing transformation moments occurs when the Fairy Godmother meets a defeated Cinderella the night of the ball. Rejected from attending the party by her step-mother because of her horrific appearance and ragged clothing, the Fairy Godmother transforms her into the most beautiful girl in the Kingdom. Even though the wicked stepmother declared, in no uncertain terms, “You shall never go to the ball,” the Fairy Godmother broke the curse when she transformed Cinderella into the beautiful princess and declared a better word over her by saying, “You shallgo to the ball.”
Think on the power of these words would have on your heart: “You shall go to the ball!”
You aren’t unwanted.
You aren’t dirty.
You aren’t shameful.
YOU ARE beautiful.
YOU ARE clean.
YOU ARE chosen.
I believe Cinderella’s physical transformation mirrored the one that occurred in her heart.
This transformation is redemption. The word redeem means “to buy something back and to restore it to its original intent.” That is precisely what Jesus Christ did for you and me. He laid down his life to pay the price for our sins, and when we place faith in Him, we are gloriously transformed. And in doing so, He takes away the old curse and speaks a new, better, word over us.
Just as Cinderella undergoes a complete transformation when her dirty rags are removed and a sparkling ball gown takes their place, we are transformed by the truth of the Gospel. King Jesus takes away our sin, shame, and sickness and clothes us with holiness, righteousness, and grace. We are new creations!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17
This is our God-given identity in Christ, but for many of us, this is not our reality.
Here is the flat out truth –we must first believe the truth Jesus declares over us before we can live it out in our daily lives. I know this one all too well. For years I believed I was defined by the sins of my past and by the sin done to me. I gave my old enemy, Satan, more power to define me than I gave Jesus power to redeem me.
Friends, we behave how we believe.
So many of us still think we are covered in the old rags of shame, guilt and sin and as a result we remain trapped in these lies. We must know and believe that Jesus has transformed us by His grace if we are ever going to live out the abundant life He gives us.
I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10
At the close of the movie Cinderella, there is a moment where the Prince’s entourage searches the kingdom high and low looking for her. Keep this in mind, she is already his chosen bride. He loves her. He does not know her as Cinderella, he knows her by a different name, his beloved. But the question is… how does she see herself?
Locked away in the attic, hidden from sight and relegated to her rags, Ella begins to sing. Thankfully, she is not defined by her position in life, she is defined by the state of her heart. It is the sound of her beautiful voice drifting from the upper chambers that alerts the searchers of her location. Racing up the stairs to her room, they set free from her banishment and Ella is reunited with the Prince.
As I watched the “Happily Ever After” moment play out on screen, I thought to myself, “What if?”
What if Ella still believed she was nothing more than Cinderella, the girl covered in ashes and pig slop? Would she have received the love bestowed on her? Or would she have believed the lie that she was unworthy?
What if Ella still believed she was nothing more than a prisoner, locked away from love.
Would she have danced with such grace and freedom? Or would she have hidden in a corner away from the gaze of others?
Friends, what we believe about ourselves, at the deepest places of our identities, determines our destiny.
It’s now been nearly two decades since Jesus swept me off my feet and rescued me from my prison to sin, shame, and darkness. I can tell you from experience, the greatest transformation that has occurred in my life has been in my mind. It has been the words of Jesus, declaring over me, “You are not that girl anymore” that have enabled me to live out the life, destiny, purity and purpose for which He created me. His truth set me free!
Redeemed Girls, if you are reading this today and you still feel covered in the filthy rags of your past, the stains for your failures or perhaps you are living under the curse of words spoken over you, I want you to stop right now and hear Jesus speak a new word over you…
You are not that girl anymore! Hear Jesus say, “You shall go to the ball!”
Suggested Resources for “Becoming a Woman Transformed by Truth”
In For His Glory, Marian Jordan Ellis leads us in an in-depth study of Ephesians to help us dismantle the lies we’ve believed about ourselves and replace them with a new identity built on God’s Word. The truths in this beloved epistle speak to the core beliefs we carry about ourselves, revealing to us our part in God’s magnificent design to redeem a people for Himself who reflect His glory to the world. Drawing on her own journey of transformation and her passion to equip women to overcome shame, insecurity, inferiority, and condemnation, Marian invites us on a journey to discover our true worth in Christ, our status as beloved children of God, and our glorious calling as His masterpiece.