Written By Christy Gibas
Recently I took my daughter to see the Cinderella movie. It was an amazing film bringing the story of Cinderella back to life capturing the imagination of modern audiences. I was surprised I liked it so well as I’ve always thought that the story has given us step moms a bad rap.
The tale stayed true to the original version. Cinderella’s life was quite sad. If anyone had the right to be angry and hold a grudge it was this girl. Her sadness was much more than not being permitted to attend a ball. She was treated like she didn’t matter. Her family wasn’t kind to her. While her step sisters were offered lovely things, Cinderella was forced to give up her room and live in a bare attic while serving the family. They would not allow her to eat with them, spend time with them, or have anything of her own. Her life was a lonely existence of being subjected to bullying, name calling, and mockery. Yet the most powerful moment in the movie occurs before Cinderella leaves her home. She turns to her step mother and says, “I forgive you.” Her step mother never asked for forgiveness, she never apologized for her vile treatment, but Cinderella forgives the wicked woman before being whisked off to the palace to embrace her “happily ever after.”
There is an important formula in this tale for achieving Happily Ever After. Though it is simply a fairy tale, it contains valuable truth. We cannot live happily ever after with unforgiveness in our hearts. When someone has mistreated us in some manner we spoil our future by hanging on to the offence. While forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation it does mean we release the person from our desire to seek revenge. Romans 12:19 teaches us, “Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge. I will pay them back,’ says the Lord.”
Finally, while we are unable to control the behavior of others and how we are treated, we are able to control how we will respond and move forward. Forgiveness is a gift of peace that we give to ourselves. Paying back blow for blow is an ugly way to live and denies the power of God to work in our lives. Romans 12: 17-18 instructs, “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” We will either rob ourselves of future peace or we can obey the scriptures and move forward trusting that God will bring justice. Forgiving others unleashes true freedom to embrace our future of peace and joy that is found in a life of faith.