Owlish Contemplations · Whispers of Faith

Finding "Happily Ever After"

“Happily ever after” is a phrase that we often associate with children’s stories – fairy tales, make-believe, and princes and princesses. It’s the surreal ending to a fantasy – because what child wants to hear, “And then in a few years they found out just how hard marriage actually was when the kids came and the laundry piled up and he worked too much and the dreams flew out the window”? No, it’s much easier to put a bow on the end of the story and forget about what happens afterward.

Yet as much as we decry that phrase as childish and fantastical, the longing for it still won’t leave our hearts. It’s splashed across the screen and the page – people just wanting to love and be loved – sorting through a horrid mess of emotions and motives, trying to find the one who’s right, who will bring them to a “happily ever after.”

“There’s no such thing,” most people will tell you. “Ever after doesn’t exist, much less the happily part.”

Well, you could be right. At least in the Cinderella/Prince Charming way. But contrary to popular opinion, I do actually believe in happily ever afters. Yet I think “happily ever after” in reality is so very different from what fairy tales say it is.

In the fairy tales, that’s where the story ends. But in real life, it’s only the beginning of the story – because it’s the story of the rest of our lives.

“Happily ever after” means that you see every day as a gift – that you pause and drink in the beauty of all that God has given to you.

“Happily ever after” doesn’t mean you’re always looking forward to an elusive, undefined utopia – it means that you’re looking around at the lovely life you’re already immersed in and being grateful for it.

“Happily ever after” does mean that some days are rainy and not sunshine-filled. But instead of bemoaning the rain, you delight in the poetry of gray skies and wet leaves … just like you do the poetry of sadness mingled with love.

“Happily ever after” means that the brighter days are made brighter because they are contrasted with the darker days – the days of challenge, stress, sadness, and uncertain anxiety.

“Happily ever after” means that sometimes your first dreams don’t come true. But when those dreams die, they give birth to a dream you would have never guessed lay beneath the surface – sometimes a deeper, richer dream than the one before.

“Happily ever after” means that you give up your life to serve others – that you delight in bringing joy to them, that you live to give them hope and courage – not because you yourself are innately hopeful and courageous, but because Christ, the ultimate Hope and Courage, lives within us.

“Happily ever after” sometimes means a kiss and an “I do” – but it doesn’t end there. It lives on to fight through hard days because you made a promise to never give up on one other person – a person worth living and dying for.

“Happily ever after” might be a phrase that neatly ties up an unrealistic story. But the truth is, we are all meant for a “happily ever after.” We are meant to live our lives here on earth in a way that whispers of greater promises ahead. We are meant to not lose ourselves in superficial pleasures, but to lose ourselves in joyful, life-long sacrifice. We are meant to go on to an eternity of unending joy more beautiful than anything we can fathom.

“Happily ever after” always hopes in a more sure promise – that this life isn’t all we get, that Christ died to ensure that we would get to be forever with Him – which is where our true happily ever after resides.

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