I was a 4 year old in a hand-me-down dress and I had pigtails to accompany instead of a crown, but I was a princess. Once. A long time ago.
It was before he and they and everyone else took it upon themselves to tell me the truth.
What must I have been for him to do what he did that summer? I hear him panting in the dark outside my open bedroom door. I see his eyes, mistake their look for love, misread his invitation for care, think “He likes me, I’m special.”
Then I stopped dreaming princess and lived reality, cold and hard.
I wasn’t princess after all, I was Worthless. Tainted. Blemished. Good for one-thing.
I vowed I’d never let anyone get that close to my core again. Ever. I lived the person I was told I was: common, ordinary, without a voice.
It was years later that God sent a little girl into my life…a girl who had never had the chance to dream. Never had the chance to think she was a princess. Never knew anything but abandonment and loss and neglect and abuse.
At birth she was placed in a cardboard box, not in Love Arms.
A stranger found her at the orphanage gates, life cord still pumping blood.
She was assigned a name and an identity, papers stamped in red like an assembly production and shuffled into the bursting-at-the-seam stacks.
She never dreamed of princess things. She came to us at 12 months not knowing how to roll over. She knew only to lay flat. Quiet. Helpless. Suddenly, it was my responsibility to teach her she wasn’t helpless…she had a voice…she mattered.
One day we prepared to read our Bible story. Little sister climbed up on the couch and the one who saw herself as Helpless made a dramatized attempt at trying to get on couch and winced and arched and communicated that even inanimate Couch held power over her and she couldn’t master it.
I was frustrated at the task I had been given, overwhelmed by the demands of teaching one so handicapped, I myself so crippled. Me who never did learn connection, only withdrawal and retreat and isolation.
A hard lesson adoption has taught me: that you cannot give what you have not received because left alone I’m an empty, cavernous pit, capable only of darkness.
We started to read of a baby in a basket…sent away in grief…found by a princess…trained in nobility.
Tears. Oh, the Presence that descends and washes and fills the cavern and buoys up. The lesson is two-sided… blessed coin… for there is One who is Giver and Generous and Gracious and Delights in Abundant Goodness. “You’re the Princess,” He whispers to me. “The baby in the box is sent for you to teach her nobility.”
“You’re a Princess…a Princess…a Princess…”
I choke on the words as princesses-in-training look at me in wonder, one in reserved withdrawal and one in loving curiosity. “What is it, momma?”
“We are nobility.” I whisper the sacred message, stroke their faces. “Can’t you see? We are each a part of His story and part of His family and that makes us royalty. He has plans for us.”
I am royalty. After it all… finally… all these years later, I can dream again.
I can twirl.
I can believe and I have proof.
“He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son…” Ephesians 1:13
By Arabah Joy
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