She was sitting across from me, pondering the words that I had just spoken. I could tell by the look on her face she struggled with my assertion but was also unwilling to dismiss it. I had said that we need hope to carry us through life. After a long silence, she finally said to me, “You’re the type that believes in fairytales, aren’t you?” I hesitated but finally agreed that I am that type. I believe in fairytales. Here’s why:
Life is not a fairytale. It has good times and bad times and everything else in between. But the things in life that happen to us have something to say about our longings and our losses. We all desire for life to be better—for that boyfriend of yours to finally work up the courage to propose to you; for you to find the love of your life; for you to get a job that garners respect and a good salary; to make it in the big leagues; to have a marriage that has always seemed elusive to you; to once and for all kick your addiction and live in freedom. And the list goes on and on of the things we wish for in life.
Where do these ideals come from? C.S. Lewis once said “If we find in ourselves a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” The other world he is talking about is a fairytale that exists in each of us and we somehow know things are not as they should be. It is the same desire that draws us to books, musicals and movies—an ideal that would be possible.
The real question then is not if I believe in fairytales but whether I believe they can happen in our lives. The answer to this is yes and no. Let me explain. I do not believe our longings can be fully satisfied this side of heaven, but I believe it is worth living as if they could. If I can’t live in light of things eventually working out for the better, I can’t live with hope. The only alternative is then despair which leads to cynicism, doubt and fear.
And I have experienced some things in my life that seem supernatural, awesome “coincidences”, parts of a story that are other worldly. And when I get a glimpse of that, I have hope for a better tomorrow and that things will change in my life. And some day when this life is over, I believe it will have been worth believing the best in people and events that made me hold on to a fairytale. Because I am a Christian this hope is made possible in Jesus. But regardless of your religious confession, you also can sometimes see the cracks in our reality to reflect an other-worldly vision that should give you hope for a better tomorrow.