Trigger Warning: Emotional Abuse, Self-Mutilation, Suicide
To me, the Ugly Stepsister represents a spirit of religion. She is incapable of receiving unconditional love. She’s incapable of recognizing individuality and unique talents in others. She molds herself to the religious culture of the day. In the Bible, Jesus talks about cutting off your hand if it offends. People think this means that we should cut out any pleasure or activity in our lives that might offend even the tiniest notion of some imagined rule. Jesus was NOT advocating self mutilation. That’s horrific. He was saying that if you follow the law, you must do these things.
Jesus didn’t preach Grace. He preached the Law on steroids. Oh, you don’t commit adultery? Have you ever lusted after someone? You’re not a murderer? Have you ever hated someone? He revealed that sin was a heart issue, not a moral or ethical issue. Some great atrocities have been committed under the guise of ethics or morality. It doesn’t make them right. Following the Law can only fix the superficial issue of right versus wrong. It can’t fix the heart. So, with that mindset, it makes sense to cut off your hand or foot to fix some offensive part of yourself. Just like the Ugly Stepsister felt she needed to cut off her toes and heel to fit the shoe, we feel the need to cut off anything that might make us offensive to God. But God is saying that he gave us those things for a reason. Stop trying to wear someone else’s shoes!
A great teacher I listen to repeatedly says that the spirit of religion and the spirit of suicide are one and the same. The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than to work us to the bone, until we are nothing but dead, dry bones. But why does someone commit suicide? Because they tried and failed to hold themselves to some standard. The problems that arose from holding this standard appeared insurmountable.
The Ugly Stepsister is the epitome of working to earn someone’s love. We think it’s sad and desperate when a person does it for another person. But, for some reason, we think it’s noble and praiseworthy when we do it for God. She even goes so far as to physically mutilate herself. How many people these days are suffering from eating disorders and shelling out millions of dollars for plastic surgery? And why? Most of them think it will be the final piece of the puzzle that will turn a switch on. That when they are “thin” or “beautiful”, they will suddenly be confident, they will suddenly be loved by someone that matters. But the more they sacrifice, the worse they feel. Some feel their breakthrough is after the next hurdle. When they jump it, their standard has changed and they are nowhere close to it.
And we do the same for God. We fast from food or the internet thinking God will come closer when we give up our pleasures. Let me tell you now. It’s not necessarily impressive. Jesus gave up his Godly nature and was brutally murdered to be near us. Maybe, just maybe, if you can match that, Jesus would be impressed but I doubt it. Obviously, some things need to go like drug and alcohol addiction. However, it’s not a prerequisite to be loved. It’s arises out of true repentance. The nature of repentance is to gravitate towards Jesus and away from everything that takes your eyes off him. It’s nature is of simply turning on a light to see in the dark and realizing a poisonous snake had been waiting for you to come into the dark, familiar kitchen.
I’ve said before that the story of Cinderella has a great prophetic significance. Whatever the origins of the story, it has come to symbolize the greatest story to me. As believers, we are like Cinderella. Our transformation comes from the Holy Spirit like Cinderella was transformed by the Fairy Godmother. Prince Charming searches for his bride just as Jesus searches the mountains and valleys looking for us. The stepmother represents Satan trying to steal our inheritance. Her daughter/s represent trying to earn love through dead works. The Prince doesn’t even acknowledge it to the consternation of all that would try.