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The Parable of the Good Princess

2010 January 10
by Julie Clawson

My seminars at Urbana focused on the idea that mission isn’t something that we hope to do in the future, but that it has to be part of how we are living right now. Too often students believe that someday they will enter the missions field, and when (for whatever reason) that doesn’t end up happening, they give up on the idea of serving God. I knew I used to think that way and when missions agencies told us to “wait awhile then reapply,” that life option got pushed further and further away. It took a long period of transformation to realize I had it all wrong and that mission should simply be an integral part of my daily life. To set up that idea, I started my seminars by telling the following story, inspired by both Pete Rollins’ parables (but nowhere near as good) and my preschooler’s obsession with princesses. It’s a bit cheezy, and not exactly subtle, but it reflects a bit of my story at least.

The Parable of the Good Princess

There once was a beautiful Princess. All over the Kingdom the people proclaimed that never before had there ever been a sweeter child. Her smile warmed even the coldest hearts and her laughter had an infectious quality. Every day her mother and father, the king and queen, would instruct her on what the qualities of a good princess were. Soon she knew these qualities by heart. Good Princesses are kind – they always extend grace to the hurting. Good Princesses are strong –they lead the Kingdom into times of peace and plenty. Good Princesses are fair – directing their people with justice. And Good Princesses are courageous – they do not fear making the hard choices to protect the Kingdom.

And so our young princess grew up hearing these qualities repeated to her day after day and she dreamed of the day when she would live up to these hopes and dreams of her parents. She wanted nothing more than to become a good princess and would talk with whoever would listen about what she would do as a good princess. Her parents were proud of her ambition, and everyone commented that yes, she would be the best princess there ever was.

As the years went on, her desire to be a good princess stayed strong. Princes from neighboring Kingdoms would come to ask her hand in marriage, but she would politely turn them down, saying she was still preparing to be the best princess she could be. “Someday my prince will come,” she would laugh, “but first I must become a good princess.” They would smile and ride away, planning to return in a years time.

As she grew even older, the townspeople who she had charmed with her smiles and laughter remembered her commitment to be a kind and fair princess. They would travel from far away to bring their troubles to her, knowing that a good princess could help them. But as they told her of their plights, she would look at them sadly and apologize, saying, “I’m sorry, I would love to help you, but first I must become a good Princess since those are the sorts of things good Princesses do.” And the townspeople would walk away sad and a bit confused. Soon they stopped coming at all.

As her parents, the King and Queen grew old and infirm, more and more of the official decisions of the Kingdom were presented to the Princess to consider. What treaty to sign with a neighboring kingdom? Where to dig new wells or put in new dams? What merchants were permitted to sell their wares within the walls of the city? But with each decision, the Princess deferred her answer saying, “I wish I knew how to help you, I’m sure I will once I’m a good Princess, but for right now I can’t do anything for you.” And she would walk away repeating to herself the qualities of a good Princess – “good princesses are kind, they are strong, they are fair, they are courageous. Someday, I will be a good Princess.”

With the death of her parents, many expected her to live up to her lifelong training of being a good princess and bless the kingdom not just with her beauty and laughter, but with her leadership. But on the day of her coronation as Queen, she handed back the crown, saying only a good Princess can become a Queen, and she hoped that one day she would be honored and ready to be able to accept such a role.

Inevitably, the Kingdom started to unravel. Petty disputes became bloody conflicts. Crops dried up and food was scarce
because of lack of available water. Merchants took their goods into other Kingdoms. Raiding parties disregarded long ignored treaties as they encroached upon her borders. The poor starved without a kind hand extending them care. And what was once a Kingdom filled with joy, peace, and prosperity became a home of the desperate trying to simply make it through the day. But the Princess barely noticed so intent was she on becoming a good princess. Nor did she notice when the suitors stopped coming, or the treaties stopped being offered. She didn’t notice that her smile no longer warmed the hearts of her people or her laugh spread joy. She just wanted to be a good Princess.

It was as an old woman on her deathbed, that she finally looked at the small group of castle staff gathered around her that she broke down in tears. “All I wanted my whole life was just to be a good Princess,” she cried, “I knew I could be the best Princess there ever was, but now it’s too late, I will never be a good princess.” No one knew what to say to her, and just let her cry and then breathe her last breath. Upon her death, they all just sighed and quietly left the room wishing that she had actually been a good princess.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. Kara permalink
    January 10, 2010

    And your children’s book will be published when? Good story, Julie. Thanks for sharing. I think I’ll read to to my girls tonight!

  2. January 11, 2010

    What a moving parable, Julie. I felt God speaking to me through it as I read; thank you for sharing it!

  3. Amy permalink
    February 27, 2011

    this was amazing, so touching.
    i will definatly be wanting to hear more from you.
    well done,
    and good luck for the future.

  4. goodness permalink
    September 26, 2012

    Thanks so so much. But please write on what she should have done in each case. That will directly inspire young girls on BEING a good princess. Make a list or points of such so they can easily pick n practise them. I’m grateful.

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