Leslie Ludy writes in her book Authentic Beauty about how she met her Prince after years of heartbreak and failed relationships...
He was someone who I had known for years. He had been a close family friend. He had many appealing qualities, but I had never really thought about him in a romantic way. It was true that he had a sensitive and tender side that I had seen on a few occassions. But he was also extremely passionate about truth, and I felt that sometimes he came across a little too strong on certain points. To be honest, he intimidated me. It also seemed that he was a little too involved with “church stuff.” When I thought of him, I was reminded of Sunday School lessons with flannel Bible story characters or gold offering plates – this was not exactly the atmosphere for true love!
He was one of those people with a piercing gaze that can see straight into the depths of your soul. Because of this, I had gone out of my way to avoid him for the past few years. For some time now my life had been a chaotic mess of compromise and confusion. I didn’t want him to see what I had become. If he found out what I had done, I was sure he would sternly reprimand me and remind me that it was too late for me to ever discover anything more. But I soon realized I was very, very wrong about him.
I found him waiting for me by the apple trees near my back gate one day as I headed out for a morning walk. I was startled to see him there, surprised that after all these years and all the times I had ignored him, he still wanted to spend time with me. I gave him a tentative glance, and he smiled at me – a tender, intimate smile that made my heart lurch in spite of myself. I quickly looked away. “Can I walk with you?” he asked in a gentle voice. I nodded, still avoiding his gaze, and he fell into step beside me. We made your way in silence for a while, listening to the occasional chatter of a squirrel or high-pitched chirp of a robin. I kept my eyes on the gravel path at my feet.
“I missed you,” he told me simply. Though it was obvious to both of us that I was the one who had put the distance between us, there was no hint of accusation in his tone. I bit my lip and nodded again, unsure what to say in response.
We walked a little further, and I realized his presence was both refreshing and comforting. I could feel his tender eyes watching me, silently telling me how important I was to him, though I could not figure out why. Nothing else was said during the rest of our time together that day, but I sensed that something more was about to happen between us. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready. Our friendship slowly grew. The more time I spent with him, the more I realized how utterly different he was from any man I had ever encountered. In him, there was nothing of the sex-hungry glances I had received from the guys at school growing up, not a trace of the flirtatious teasing that had always surrounded me, and not a strain of the seductive charms I had grown so accustomed to in men. But somehow I knew that he loved me. That he deeply desired me. That he found me beautiful. I hardly dared to hope that I had finally found the one man that could fulfill those long-forgotten dreams of mine. Even if he could be my prince I was sure I had found him too late.
"This is completely crazy," I told myself aloud one night as I tossed and turned in my bed. “He wouldn’t want someone like me.” I was convinced that his love for me would shrivel up in a second if he truly understood how many mistakes I had made. I didn’t think I could risk becoming attached to him. I had been hurt so many times I didn’t know how much more pain my heart could handle.
I had another worry. He didn’t live his life the way anyone else did. He stood out like a neon billboard on a lonely desert highway. He was mocked and misunderstood by quite a few people in my life. I knew he would not fit into my world, would not be accepted by my friends, and would not be at home in most of my surroundings. How could I possibly love someone like this? What did he expect me to do – walk away from everything in my life just to be with him? I wrestled with my fears for weeks. He never pressured me to make a decision. He simply reminded me, in a hundred different ways, that he loved me and that he longed for me. He was infinitely patient, tender, and sensitive...the kind of prince I had dreamed of for as long as I could remember. He made the immature romantic wanna-be’s that had historically gained my affection seem like pitiful counterfeits. After seeing the real thing, I couldn’t believe I had fallen for such poor substittues. but at the same time, I couldn;t help wondering whether or not he jsut might be too good to be true.
The more time I spent around him, the more something inside me desperately wanted to just surrender and fall into his waiting arms. But I was afraid to let myself trust him. I was afraid of what that decision might cost me.
Over time, gradually, like the moving of the hour hand on a wall clock, my guard came down. No matter how many times I pulled away from him, his love remained unmoving, like a majestic unwavering mountain overlooking a tumultuous ocean. I had even tried to convince him that I was not good enough for him. I’d told him in detail, with hot tears flashing in my tormented eyes, exactly what I had done with my life, heart, and body over the past years. But instead of judging me, I sensed he was inwardly weeping over every piece of my shattered heart. Coming face to face with this kind of infinite kindness left me stunned.
One morning as I was sitting alone on a bench in the crisp spring air, I felt him softly approach me. He didn’t have to speak. I took a long look into the unfathomable depths of love in his eyes, and I melted. With tears coursing down my face like a cascading waterfall, I fell into his arms and told him passionately that my heart belonged to no one but him. At that moment, my life, my pursuits, my friends, everything I had built my world around faded away into nothingness. None of it seemed even remotely important anymore. Nothing mattered now but him.
As I whispered my devotion to him, a brilliant peace crept steadily into my heart and began to quietly mend its broken pieces. His eyes were wet with tears of unspeakable joy. I felt like an eagle gliding freely along the majestic mountain peaks following an afternoon storm. I had finally found my prince. He had gallantly searched for me and rescued me from my horrible dungeon of captivity. He had loved me in spite of my wretched ugly condition. He had taken the filthy rags I was clothed in and given me the sparkling gown of a beautiful princess. His amazing love had fully revived my shattered, wounded, bleeding heart. And though I knew that now I must sacrifice all I had ever known in order to be with him, there was not a shred of doubt lingering in my mind. It was like giving him a pile of worthless pebbles and receiving a houseful of priceless jewels in return.
In the following paragraphs Leslie speaks about her husband Eric...
Yes, Eric and I did have an amazing love story (in fact, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe don’t stand a chance against us!) However, my love story with Eric is only a small reflection of a much deeper intimacy that I share with someone else...the prince I wrote about earlier. The one who passionately loved me, tenderly held me, and deeply cherished me in a way I had never before experienced, in a way that fulfilled all my childhood longings and desires. The one who rescued me from the dingy prison cell I had wandered into, cut the iron chains away from my feet and hands, tenderly washed me clean from my life of sin, transformed me into his princess, and carried me away into the sunset to His land.
My true prince is not Eric. My true Prince is Jesus Christ. Eric, with all his amazing qualities, could never meet the deepest needs inside my heart the way my true prince has. If not for the tender love of my true prince, my love story with Eric would not have even been possible. The romance of my love story with Eric is only a faded glimmer of the spectacular beauty of the love story I share with my true Prince…Jesus Christ. In fact, my childhood longing to be loved and cherished by a tender knight that I could follow to the ends of the earth, was placed in my heart by Him. Jesus Christ alone can fulfill that desperate longing.
Maybe they didn't give me unrealistic expectations of love. Maybe Disney does not even realize how fully enrapturing the love, how dashing and valiant the Prince, and how the happily ever after will exceed our wildest dreams. Maybe I was just to busy watching Cinderella on my laptop to turn around and see my Prince already there... waiting for me to ride off into the sunset.