Many of our favorite stories revolve around a woman being rescued by a man. Luke liberates Princess Leia from the Death Star. Prince Phillip awakens Princess Aurora. Link rescues Princess Zelda from … well, lots of stuff.
We love these stories. Disney’s version of Sleeping Beauty is one of my all-time favorite movies, although if I were writing that story today, Aurora would probably bust out a crossbow and finish Maleficent herself.
Because one of the downsides to being egalitarian is that indulging in “strong male rescues weak female” stories betrays the principle of equality.
I’ve been wrestling with this issue lately not because of my stories — plenty of strong folks of both genders getting rescued there.
These days, it’s real life I desire rescue from. There. I said it. I want to be rescued. But I know that what’s best for me is to be strong enough to not need rescuing.
That’s really, really hard these days, for a lot of reasons.
So all that emotional baggage was piled up on me when this card hit my Facebook feed:
It makes a nice pairing with this one, which I’ve loved for a long time:
The problem is, I don’t feel like that sword-bearing queen these days. I barely pass as a self-rescuing princess. I feel very much like boring old floor-scrubbing Cinderella, who would really love to have a prince — I’d settle for a mere knight — ride in and save the day.
OK, anyone who knows me knows I haven’t scrubbed a floor in years. That’s not the point.
The point is, I’m living with the cognitive dissonance of believing wholeheartedly that everyone is created equally in the image of God, and that in Christ there is no male and female, while simultaneously wishing a big strong hero would show up and relieve me of my burdens.
Yes, I know I have a King who does just that.
But you know something? The King, like a good parent who both loves you and makes you crazy, has a way of answering requests for help with pithy little sayings like “my grace is sufficient for you.”
Thanks a lot, Your Majesty.
I shared a little of this on Facebook, and Katherine Coble gave me validation and then really cleared things up:
I totally get both the idea that we don’t need to be rescued and the desire we have to be rescued.
You know what? It isn’t WRONG to want to be rescued. It’s part of who some people are. For me the key was breaking it down like this:
It’s OK to WANT to be rescued.
It’s harmful to your well-being to EXPECT to be rescued.
Katherine also pointed out that Gaiman was raised in Scientology, which “sells the premise that one is responsible for rescuing oneself.…Christianity is, on the other hand, built upon the premise that we accept rescue. Accepting rescue is humility, not weakness.”
“No human will ever entirely rescue you, but it is perfectly acceptable to look for a human who will offer you comfort, companionship, support,” Katherine added. “Those things give you the courage to keep rescuing yourself.”
She is too right. As I pondered the matter, I realized that perhaps instead of Gaiman, the pop culture icon I needed to quote was Bono, who sang the lyric, “We get to carry each other.”