Princess in Training
Once upon a time, in a land far away, or perhaps nearer than you imagine, lived a peasant family.
This family didn't have much when it came to gold, silver, or riches, but they had much when it came to work ethic, love, and a large family.
The father was the stoic type. Every morning, before the sun rose, he would leave the modest cottage in the woods with a whistle, and toil in the fields all day long.
His plump wife, who he always stopped to give a wave before he turned the corner out of sight, adored him. She joyfully gave him her life, her love, and her service. She also bore him 6 sons and 1 daughter.
The six sons were being raised to be good men- loyal, true, and faithful- like their father, and they also toiled alongside him in the fields every day.
The daughter, AnnaBelle, was the youngest in the large family, and it was clear that she was special. (as all daughters are)
From the time she was born, her mother would rock her and sing ballads to her. She would sing of how special she was, and how the King had a special purpose for her life.
When she was a toddler, her mother would tell her stories of the King. He was a just King. He was a wise King. The King ruled the nation with truth and love.
When AnnaBelle was only a few years old, her training began. If she was too impatient with feeding the chickens, her mother would gently chide her. "Now, AnnaBelle, that is no way for a princess to act. You must be patient and kind. The chickens do not know the difference between right and wrong. You do. So you must choose patience and goodness. They provide us with eggs, and we must take care of them with love."
AnnaBelle would try to slow down and be patient, but it seemed so hard to do. Sometimes she did not understand her mother's advice. As she got older, she grew frustrated and wroth at times. The lessons seemed to be never ending!
"AnnaBelle," her mother would say gently, "I see that your clothes are a muss. Princesses must have clean, pressed clothing at all times. You are a princess. You must look like a princess!"
"AnnaBelle, princesses do not raise their voices like that."
"AnnaBelle, princesses do not run and scream and act like commoners!"
"AnnaBelle, princesses carry themselves with grace, and they are always kind and thoughtful of others."
AnnaBelle listened carefully and tried to heed her mother's advice as she grew into womanhood, but it seemed so hard! One day the family made a trip into town. AnnaBelle had blossomed into a beautiful young lady who was gentle, kind, and true, yet she often struggled with discontentment and impatience. As she walked along the streets with her family, she could not help but notice the difference between her and some of the town girls.
The town girls wore much different clothing than AnnaBelle did. Some dresses were so shocking that AnnaBelle noticed her brothers quickly glancing away, red staining their cheeks.
The town girls laughed uproariously at men as they hung on their arm, and they seemed to glance with disgust at AnnaBelle. They seemed to be having so much fun. Much more fun than AnnaBelle, who was constantly working and training under her mother at home.
AnnaBelle tugged at the high collar of her dress. "Oh, this stupid dress," she thought with contempt. "I am so hot. If only...." She looked at the town girls again; the girls who were flitting about the streets, looking as cool as the fresh sunrise. Little seeds of doubt began to grow in her mind. She was happy when she left the little cottage in the woods this morning. Was she not?
AnnaBelle was quiet the entire ride home in the bumpy wagon. As they pulled up to the cottage, her mother summoned her to help in the kitchen.
Slowly AnnaBelle went to help her, but she had troubled thoughts tossing and tumbling in her head as she carried the meat to the table. Not thinking, she tripped over her feet and dumped the entire plate of meat all over the floor. She stared at it in silence. Her mother sighed.
"AnnaBelle, princesses are..." she began.
AnnaBelle whirled to face her mother.
"Princesses? Princesses? I am not a princess, mother! We live in a cottage in the woods! Father toils all day, as do my brothers! You toil all day, and you constantly make me toil alongside of you. You talk of a King, but I have never seen him! How do I know he even exists? And the lessons...Mother, I am so sick of all the lessons!"
AnnaBelle paused for a breath and was about to go on, but she saw the look on her mother's face. She had never talked to her mother in the manner she just had, and she had never seen her mother look so stricken.
"Oh, AnnaBelle", her mother said, as a tear trickled down her cheek. "Not all princesses live in castles. Princesses live in cottages, too...living simple lives. Being a princess is the matter of the heart, not a matter of riches or fame. You are a princess if you choose to be. As am I, and I did make that choice- many years ago. Everyone in this kingdom may be a princess if they so desire, for the King has declared it. You must choose to be, however. Some have not chosen to be a princess. They choose instead, to live their life as common people do- they flit from party to party, eat, drink, and take their rest. But my child, that is not the life we have chosen for you. You may be a princess, anyone may be a princess, but you must choose to be. We can't make that choice for you. All these lessons will serve a purpose. Please, just be patient and you will see- trust your father and I!"
AnnaBelle hung her head in shame. She felt disgusted at herself for even speaking to her mother in the manner she just had.
"May I go to bed?" she asked in a mere whisper. Her mother hugged her gently and nodded.
AnnaBelle fell into a fitful sleep, mulling over the thoughts racing through her head and heart.
Could she really be a princess? Did she want to be a princess? The King offered it to all? If he offered it to all, then why would some choose to remain common folk? She knew in her heart that she was at a crossroads in her life. She must choose if she wanted to be a princess, or if she wanted to reject the King's gift and remain common.
The next day, she arose with the sun. She walked out to her favorite hill and watched the glorious rays peek over the horizon. As the sun's warmth washed over her, she made her decision.
AnnaBelle skipped back to the cottage. As soon as she had made her decision, it was like a weight had been lifted from her. Why would she choose to remain common, when the King was offering her the chance to be a princess her whole life?
As she neared the cottage, she slowed, for in the clearing was a carriage.
"Mother," she sang out, "I have decided to choose the King's gift, and become a princess forever!"
Her mother opened the front door with a smile, her husband right behind her, and behind him a man whom AnnaBelle had never seen.
"I am so happy, AnnaBelle, because I have a very special guest I want you to meet!"
As the man came into view, AnnaBelle gasped. Although she had never met him, she knew in her heart that she was face to face with the King.
She curtsied low, and the King let out a boisterous laugh. "Up, up, AnnaBelle, for I want to meet this very special girl that I have heard so much about!"
Confused, AnnaBelle stood tall. "Heard so much about, my King?"
"Why, yes, of course- from my son, Benjamin!"
AnnaBelle only knew one Benjamin. He was her brothers' friend, and they had grown up together. He often toiled in the fields with her brothers, and she had just assumed he was a farmer's son. He often ate at their table, and they talked long hours together as AnnaBelle did chores, and Benjamin helped.
"Benjamin is...is your son?" she managed to stutter.
"Why, yes, he is," laughed the King. "Not all princes live in castles, my dear. Many live simple lives as farmers and dairymen."
AnnaBelle's mother could sense her shock, so she led her to a tree stump and gently had her sit down. "AnnaBelle, Benjamin loves you. He sees you for the princess that you are. Your father and I knew when you were born that you were special. We have been training you to be a princess your whole life. We wanted you to choose to be one; we did not want you to waste your life being a common person. But the choice is yours. You just told me that you had decided to be a princess; that you had decided you wanted to accept the King's gift. Will you also accept Benjamin?"
AnnaBelle threw her arms around her mother. "Yes, Mother, of course! I also love and admire Benjamin, and I freely accept him as my prince!"
As AnnaBelle was hugging her mother, she noticed another man step out of the cottage.
Suddenly everything made sense. The King. The gift. The training.(She realized with a start that her mother had been training her for her life with her future prince!) The choice.
She shyly stepped towards Benjamin...her prince, and he took her hand in his.
"Will you be my princess forever, AnnaBelle?" he said in his deep voice that she had grown to love.
"Of course, my prince," she replied softly.
She heard clapping, and turned to face her jubilant family.
As they rode back into town that night to be married, she looked around at the town girls again. She sat beside Benjamin- who was dressed as a farmer, and she glanced down at her modest dress. The town girls still looked at her with disgust as they laughed up into the faces of the handsome men that they clung to. They flitted to and from their parties, choosing to turn down the King's offer of being princesses and instead remaining common folk.
AnnaBelle felt a tug at her heart.
Why would anyone choose to reject the King's gift? It was free for all!
She glanced up at Benjamin and smiled.
She was so glad that she had chosen to be a princess.
Will you not choose to be a princess, as well?
I wrote this story as an encouragement to all you "princesses in training", (when it seems like your prince will never come) but also as a plea to those of you who aren't yet princesses. If we choose God's gift of salvation, then we are a princess forever. Please, if you haven't yet become a princess, become one today!