Knight in Disguise

Friday, October 28, 2005

Here is a picture for you:

There is a beautiful princess locked high in a tower with no staircase in the far reaches of a distant kingdom. She is guarded by a powerful spell that nothing but true love can break. The spell was placed upon her by a hideous dragon whose every breath feels as fiery darts as he gazes upon her beauty from his seat upon the walls of his keep. The dragon, his lands already in the hands of her father’s men, is merely biding his time until he can devour her. He will wait until it will hurt the king the most.

The princess is torn between hope and despair. The distance between her prison and the rest of the world is great, and only a very valiant warrior would attempt to slay the dragon. The days pass into weeks, which pass into years, and she grows resigned to her fate. There is nothing for her but death in this, her exile.

Now, everyone knows that princesses should be rescued from high towers, and everyone knows that only true love could break the spells that hold them captive. But no one dares make the trek to save her from such a powerful enemy. After the dragon took her captive, they forgot about her. They forgot about the king’s sorrow at the loss of his daughter, and he can find no one to make the journey for her rescue.

But one day, a knight who loves the king very much becomes aware of his sorrow. He does not know the princess, but this noble knight knows that he must restore her to the king. Bravely he sets out on the journey, passing through many dangers as he travels. His desire to see the princess and set his love upon her grows through each trial.

The princess hears of his coming—the dragon tells her how the knight must die for rescuing her. He is often angry now, for each time he hears of another victory by the knight for the king, his fear grows. Such a valiant knight will stop at nothing short of his defeat. How dare the king send someone to remind him of his own diminishing power!

But his power has not yet waned. The dragon’s breath grows hotter and hotter, and the princess feels as though she will be engulfed in his fire. She cries out for the blackness to surround her. Each time she dares to hope that the knight will arrive, the dragon pours out his fury upon her, and she knows that it is only a matter of time before he must destroy her knight.

Finally, the knight is at the door of the dragon’s keep. The dragon, by this time so incensed he won’t wait for his kill, throws the door open and blasts the knight with his full fury. The knight raises his shield and stands, firm in his love for the king and his desire for the princess.

The battle is long, and the princess, at last free from the dragon’s breath, stands breathless at her tower window, weeping as her knight is beaten down again and again, crying for him to please get up each time he falls until at last, he cannot get up. He seems dead. Perhaps he is.

The dragon roars his triumph and flies to the tower to destroy the princess, but it is too late. The spell that he cast upon her could only stand if she was never loved, and when the knight gave his life trying to rescue her, he freed her from the dragon’s power. She leapt from her tower, and now, overwhelmed with love, she runs to the knight and lifts him to his feet. But the dragon will not be so swiftly beaten. He leaps to the attack, and the knight, finding his strength renewed with hope, steps between the princess and the dragon with his sword.

And of course, the princess is rescued because he slays the dragon and carries her back across the kingdoms to the home of her heart.

Now, as you can see from my story, the idea of “fighting for” someone seems to be a rather female idea. When guys think “fight,” they think very much as you do: take out the world, win a war, take down the bad guy. Guys, as a general rule, like action and violence and gore. Women, however, prefer romance and tears and heartbreak—always with a happy ending.

Every woman dreams about being a princess. Every woman’s heart longs to be rescued from her tower. The tower may be a broken heart from a previous relationship. It may be scars from her friendships. It may be her own fears of being loved, or of never being loved. Though women deeply desire relationship, they do not always accept it. I think a lot of men simply assume that they are ice cubes, or that they don’t care. A woman longs for someone to look inside of her, past her prickles and walls and see her as someone beautiful, someone worth rescuing from her dragon, someone even worth dying for. She wants to be someone that a man can’t live without. She longs for a strength to lean on, and to be a strength for someone else.

When I spoke of the young man who refused to fight for me, I spoke of someone who had once been a dear friend, who had once seen my beauty and loved me for it. But he was too afraid of offering his strength on my behalf. There were too many people telling him that he shouldn’t. (Here you see another example of a dragon.) I couldn’t go to him—he was calling the shots, and even though I tried, he wouldn’t even acknowledge me. He didn’t stop to care about my heart, to try to ease the pain he knew he was causing me. I think he believed the pain would make me hate him, and he wouldn’t have to worry about being responsible for me.

When I speak of “fighting for me,” I am using a figurative term to explain that he was not willing to slay my dragons. He was not willing to make the journey to understand my heart. He was not willing to lay his own fears and security aside to stay the course of what love he did hold for me.

Now, I am three weeks married to a man who did not seem to be a warrior at the beginning. He wasn’t one to dive into situations without knowing what he was getting into. He struggled a lot with fear and thought he’d find only a broken heart in loving me. But love me he did. He took a risk that no guy has ever taken with me. He took a risk that maybe I was worth loving, and that maybe there was something inside me that was soft and tender and able to love, even though I had previously been so hurt. He walked past the walls of my fear and offered me his love—even though it might cost him everything. He pulled out his sword and did battle with the lies that I believed about myself. And since we’ve been married, he has laid his life down for me nearly every day, putting himself aside for my needs.

I am still amazed. From the midst of my fear and sorrow, I find myself rescued. No longer rejected as a nothing, but cherished and treasured. No longer do I feel exiled, or resigned to my fate.

I wandered alone, long forgotten on a barren moor
The wind moaned o'er my wailing
The seeping sorrow froze me
I fell, desolate
No one saw where I had fallen--
The birds were silent.

"You ravished whore!" the distant hills echoed back to me...
I could answer nothing.
The storm was endless.

Then one God-blown ray of light pierced the empty groaning,
And morning came.

"My beautiful, my beloved, Oh, my princess..."

It was you
I could come home to your arms--
And you loved me.


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