When the shoe doesn’t fit

My German mother raised us on German fairy tales, so we heard the original Brothers Grimm version of Cinderella while we were growing up. In its gruesomeness, it has become a perfect metaphor for some of my life experiences. You can read the original version of Cinderella yourself, but for me, the pivotal point comes when the prince arrived at Cinderella’s house to see if the golden shoe that his beloved left behind fit any of the young women who lived there.

The older stepsister took the shoe into another room to try it on, but it was too small for her. Her mother handed her a knife and said, “Cut off your toe. When you’re queen you won’t have to go on foot anymore.” So the daughter cut off her toe. The prince rode away with her, but as they passed the grave of Cinderella’s mother,  a couple of pigeons cried:

Rook di goo, rook di goo!
There’s blood in the shoe.
The shoe is too tight,
This bride is not right!

The prince returned to Cinderella’s house and asked the second stepsister to try on the shoe. It didn’t fit her either, so her mother gave her a knife, and said, “Cut a piece off your heel. When you’re queen you won’t have to go on foot anymore.” So her daughter cut off part of her heel. The gullible prince fell for the trick again, and rode off into the sunset with the second stepsister. However, the pigeons on the grave of Cinderella’s mother cried:

Rook di goo, rook di goo!
There’s blood in the shoe.
The shoe is too tight,
This bride is not right!

The prince returned to Cinderella’s house, insisted that she try on the shoe, and you know the rest: The shoe fit, and they lived happily ever after.

Like the stepsisters, I could not fit into the golden shoe of Christianity. And, like them, I was encouraged to cut off parts of myself to make it fit. The fact that I can’t bring myself to do it reduces my mother to tears, because only those who fit into the golden shoe go to heaven and she wants me to be there with her.

Although I refused to cut off parts of myself for Jesus, I have done it for the sake of relationships without even being aware of it. It was only after the relationship ended that I realized how much of myself I had pruned away. How much sense does that make? If your partner doesn’t fit, remove parts of yourself until he or she does? I am embarrassed to say I have done that, but I think we all have.

Unfulfilled

Kris Wiltse’s illustrations for the “Unfulfilled” card from the Mixed Emotions card deck.

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2 thoughts on “When the shoe doesn’t fit

  1. Pingback: Cats as role models « Emotions: the GPS for life’s journey

  2. Pingback: Oh, hell « Find your way home

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