The May bug… placed Thumbelina on the biggest leaf on the tree. He gave her honey from the flowers to eat, and told her that she was the loveliest thing he had ever seen, even though she didn’t look like a May bug. Soon all the other May bugs that lived in the tree came visiting. Two young lady May bugs – they were still unmarried – wiggled their antennae and said: “She has only two legs, how wretched! No antennae and a thin waist, how disgusting! She looks like a human being, how ugly!“
All the other female May bugs agreed with them. The May bug who had caught Thumbelina still thought her lovely; but when all the others kept insisting that she was ugly, he soon was convinced of it too. Now he didn’t want her any longer, and put her down on a daisy at the foot of the tree, and told her she could go wherever she wanted for all he cared. Poor Thumbelina cried; she thought it terrible to be so ugly that even a May bug would not want her, though in truth she was more beautiful than you can imagine, more lovely than the petal of the most beautiful rose.
The Beauty of authentic humanity is under attack. “She looks like a human being, how ugly!” they cry. We hear it all the time. Authentic goodness in real Beauty is constantly mocked wherever we turn. Authentic humanity is derided.
“Once upon a time, there were men and women in the world… And there was a devil… and he desired to destroy the happiness of man and woman. So he created a twisted looking class. This looking-glass was not a mirror, but a piece of glass so invisible that a man could look through it and not realize he was seeing a twisted reality. And it reflected a bit, like a mirror, so that a man could see himself, or what he thought was himself…
“Now, this glass was made particularly for men, and the devil made sure that men looked through it whenever they chanced to look at women. And this glass changed the women.”
“It made them ugly,” Rachel said, thinking she had heard this story before.”
“No, not really. That’s actually a lot harder to do than you might think. What the mirror did was more insidious. It reduced them… So that, to a man looking through the glass, the woman appeared to be an object, a pretty plaything put there for his pleasure. Now, the man might know that the woman had brains, or talents, or any number of other gifts, but when he looked through the mirror, he saw her only as a toy. And the devil made every effort to push that glass before a man’s eyes when he was as young as possible. So that most men were so used to looking through the glass that, even when it wasn’t there, the images they saw in the glass dictated their reality… There was a further trick to the devil’s glass. The glass taught men to sort women they saw into two types – worthwhile, and not worthwhile. Or ‘good’ and ‘bad’ as some men took to calling them. Good toys and bad toys…”
“What was the difference between the good toys and the bad toys?” Rachel said…
“Nothing… Nothing essential. Once you’ve decided to see a person as a toy, the degrees between the toys are close to non-existent. But for practical purposes as far as the deluded man was concerned, there was a difference… Time. Only time. You spend more time with a good toy…”
“And the bad toys?” …
“You don’t waste your time. You play with them, but not for long. Maybe not even twenty-four hours. And then you don’t care if you ever see her again… From this twisted point of view, a smart man doesn’t waste his time on bad toys… Christian men were taught to look through this mirror, too… Don’t underestimate the power of the looking glass. Many, many women do. They think they’re being brave. But they’re only naive. Naive girls who think they’re being bold girls are going to get hurt. And maybe hurt beyond repair… There’s no place in a deluded man’ world for an old toy, or an ugly toy, or a toy who doesn’t have the right figure, or whose body doesn’t work the way it should… a ‘smart’ man doesn’t let himself get stuck with a broken toy… The whole point is, it’s all a lie. You’re not a toy at all.“
We can teach our sisters and our daughters to be authentic. But we cannot stop there; it is not enough. We have to teach our brothers and our sons to demand authenticity from women. Because the Beauty in men is in their calling to lead, their calling to be worthy of our trust. It is not a virtue of authentic femininity to downplay or undermine or deny men the opportunity to be worthy of leading.
Boys, you can break / You’ll find out how much they can take / Boys will be strong / And boys soldier on / But boys would be gone without the warmth from / A woman’s good, good heart.
Authentic leadership is service. The mark of a good leader is making calls that make circumstances better for everyone else.
“Ais, have I ever told you about the three rings of marriage?” “No…” “There’s the engagement ring, the wedding ring, and then there’s the suffering.”
But, dear friend, suffering is a crown. The shadow proves the sunshine. The trials of marriage have the potential to strengthen the individuals involved. In fact, they’re meant to. Suffering is a crown because it is the proof of Love tested by fire.
Beware the devil’s glass.