Recently someone called me a hopeless romantic.
This was a totally random statement. I am not exactly sure what prompted it. Something I said? Something I did? Who knows? They gave no definition other than I probably cried in the movie theaters. How they deduced this I am not quite sure (I am grinning).
Over the weeks as I have pondered and mulled over this tag—A hopeless romantic.
At first, my defenses cranked up a notch or maybe even two. I gave explanations, justifications, and clarifications.
Then I stopped. Let’s be realistic (rarely are romantics labeled as realists).
I am a romantic.
But I am a hopeful romantic. And I am coming out of hiding. I wonder if there is a Romantic Anonymous.
I will confess that I believe in fairy tales. Yes, I do. But I don’t believe the modern versions. Happily ever after is not the most important part of the tale. If it were then authors would write the story that comes after the glass slipper and after the beast becomes a handsome prince again. No, the “getting to the happily ever after”—that’s what everyone wants to hear.
I believe in the truth and power of the story.
One of my most beloved heroes would have been considered a hopeless romantic.
He was the beautiful baby boy who became the handsome shepherd, musician, poet, warrior, lover, and king.
Sounds like a romantic fairy tale to me. (I don’t think Richard Gere even came close to the real David!).
But we must remember that in the true fairy tales, the real stories, there was a thread of darkness, a strain of malicious intent, a traitorous plot, and often a blinding betrayal.
In the fairy tales there is a thread of darkness, but it is never in the hero/heroine. Oh! Forbid such a thought.
In the books of I & II Samuel, David is the hero. As his story unfolded we see that there was a thread of darkness in him. It was subtly woven with strands of right and privilege and arrogance. David took advantage of the innocent. The thread grew long and thick before Nathan showed it to him. And the damage was already done. Literally. There was no enchanted song David could sing that would reverse his actions. But there was a song he could sing that would restore him to his King. (Psalm 51). And sing it he did.
In the fairy tales there is an act of malicious intent. Jealousy fueled Saul’s malicious intent toward David. More than once Saul threw his spear at David to pin him to the wall. There were several times when David had the opportunity to take Saul’s life, and he was conflicted. But David chose not to return evil for evil. And our hero fled into the desert. All the heroes/heroines go to the desert or the forest. A place of hiding and protection.
In the fairy tales there is a traitorous plot. The enemies are clearly defined. Colored in black and white (and sometimes a little red). Villainous. Hopeless romantics don’t want to have enemies. And yet, poor Snow White had enemies living in the same castle with her—plotting and scheming for her downfall and demise. So did David.
In the fairy tales there is a blinding betrayal. And the betrayal comes from and through someone that is closest to the hero. And it seems so wrong. The source of the betrayal comes from one who should have cared. It comes from someone who instinctively should have protected and stood beside them. In Hansel and Gretel it is the parents, with Snow White and Cinderella it is the step-mother. David's son betrays him. And because David loved so intensely and so deeply he was blind to Absalom’s treachery.
Am I suggesting or implying that the story of the great King David is just a fairy tale? Is he just a hopeless romantic hero?
No. Let me be clear—NO.
I am suggesting that all great stories, all the real stories have elements and traits and truths we recognize and that pierce into who we really are. That is the power of story.
I can’t relate to Cinderella. I don’t sing while I am cleaning the ashes from the fireplace. I am not very patient waiting for my prince to come. I don’t relate to the fairy tale people who find no darkness in themselves, who are never conflicted, never doubt, never question, or never stumble.
No, I want the real people. I relate to David. David sings. But his songs are not trilling, frilly nonsense about the happily ever after. His songs are about the gritty here and now. Read the Psalms. Contemplate the shadows and the light you find there.
I resonate with David because there is a dark thread in me. It may not be the exact same kind of thread, but it is darkness, nonetheless. And just like David I have acted on it.
When one of David’s sins was exposed (through a story by Nathan), he didn’t deny what he had done. David made no explanations, justifications, and clarifications. David repented.
When confronted with the opportunity to repay Saul’s evil, David chose to walk away.
When David was told of the plot to overthrow his reign, he did not retaliate.
When he discovered his son’s betrayal, his heart was broken and he loved Absalom anyway.
David is one of my heroes not because he is perfect and infallible like the animated princes of our modern fairy tales, but because he is raw and real. He bleeds.
In so many ways I want to be like David.
I am a hopeful romantic.