by Marian Jordan Ellis
As the mother of a four-year-old girl, I watched my fair share of princess movies during the pandemic. Hours trapped indoors made me quite thankful we live in a day when streaming channels are a reality. While I’m careful about my daughter's screen time, there were several days when a good fairytale saved my sanity.
One princess story our family loves is Tangled, which tells the story of Rapunzel, a girl with long golden locks that hold magical healing power. Early in the film, we learn Rapunzel is a princess taken captive as a baby by an evil woman named Mother Gothel. Rapunzel grows up locked in a tower, not knowing her real identity as the King's daughter. She's constantly fed lies and filled with fears of the outside world, and yet at the same time longs for a life that she's never known but somehow feels is her destiny.
Rapunzel's trapped until the mysterious lights that fill the night sky each year on her birthday begin to beckon her home. As a follower of Jesus, I can't help but see the parallels in this story to the Gospel. While we are captive to the enemy (whom Jesus called the Father of Lies) and held in his darkness, the light of the Gospel breaks through our prison and calls us home to the Kingdom of God.
But there's more to Rapunzel's story than an analogy to the Gospel. I believe this fairytale speaks to every woman who's ever struggled with feelings of rejection, unworthiness, or shame. It speaks loudly to those of us who, like Rapunzel, grew up not knowing our true identity.
My earliest childhood memories include abuse and abandonment. In response to this trauma, I made agreements with the enemy about my identity. By "agreements with the enemy," I believed my worth was defined by the sin done to me and the lies the enemy spoke to me. As a result, I was convinced I was unlovable. This identity of rejection shaped who I became through my teenage years and even into young adulthood.
Then I met Jesus.
Just as light broke through Rapunzel's tower and beckoned her home, the grace of Jesus (the Light of the World) rescued me from darkness and welcomed me into His kingdom. But that's not all; I discovered I am a beloved daughter of the Most High God. Jesus said, "You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32)." By immersing myself in scripture, I've come to comprehend my identity in Christ and believing this truth transformed everything about me. One of my favorite quotes by Neil Anderson says it best, "The most important belief we possess is a true knowledge of who God is. The second most important belief is who we are as children of God because we cannot consistently behave in a way that is inconsistent with how we perceive ourselves."
Discovering My True Worth.
This is my first secret to freedom: The only One who can define us is the One who paid the highest possible price to redeem us! Before I comprehended the magnitude of God's love, I believed the lie that my worth was found in people's opinions or my performance. But Jesus speaks a better word over us. His sacrificial death for us speaks to our true worth, which is not found in our appearance, perfection, or people's praise. Instead, it is established by the finished work of Christ on the cross. Why? Because something is worth what someone is willing to pay for it. And Jesus, with outstretched arms, said, "You are worth dying for!" (John 3:16) We can stop looking to other humans to tell us our value and instead look to the cross to see the worth God placed upon us.
Discovering My Real Name.
The lies we believe become labels that define us. For example, I wore the label "unlovable" for so long that I lived as if it were true. I pushed away friendships out of fear of rejection. I sabotaged romantic relationships out of fear of being known. I rejected others before they had a chance to reject me. But when Jesus rescued me, he not only set me free from sin, but He also gave me a new name—Beloved (Romans 1:7). I bristled at this name for many years because it contradicted how I saw myself. But thankfully, God's truth trumps our feelings.
Today I embrace my new name, I am God's beloved. I stand in His unconditional love and can joyfully extend it to others. After all, we can’t give something away that we don’t possess for ourselves.
Discovering My True Home.
Finally, God's word declares that those who belong to Christ are Citizens of Heaven. (Philippians 3:20-21) This speaks to more than just our eternal destination; it reveals our true home. Coming to discover my identity in Christ taught me that the God of the Universe is my heavenly Father. This truth transformed me from a woman crippled by fear to one who walks by faith. I no longer hide, locked in a proverbial tower of shame looking out at the world. Today, I live with confidence born of trust in my Father's love and my destiny in His Kingdom.
Friend, the Word tells us that in Christ, we are not rejected; we are chosen. We are not unwanted; we are loved. We are not worthless but “worth dying for.” I pray you will allow the Truth to set you free from captivity to fear and shame so you can live the destiny for which you were born.
Marian Jordan Ellis is the author of For His Glory: Living as God’s Masterpiece, a study of Ephesians. She hosts This Redeemed Life, a podcast designed to equip women to live a victorious life in Christ. For more information on Marian visit thisredeemedlife.org