From Fairy Tale to Faith Tale

4362611625_674206a891_oRecently I listened to a podcast about the resurgence of fairy tales in American culture, as seen in television shows such as Game of Thrones, True Blood, Grimm and Once Upon a Time. The person giving the lecture said fairy tales aren’t just for kids, as they help us too.

I agree that tales are powerful; look at how often Jesus used them as a teaching technique!

But in fairy tales, it is usually obvious who the good guys and the bad guys are and what the lesson is, and everything is worked out by the end. They can certainly be useful tools for children who are trying to make sense of their lives.

I have found that I am not living a fairy tale, but a faith tale.

The summer of 2013 I moved back to the States after nearly 20 years in China. I wasn’t sure what was next, but I clearly knew that my China Chapter had ended. I raised support for my livelihood (still do, though back in the States) and wanted to keep folks informed of the process.


I have found that I am not living a fairy tale, but a faith tale.


Yes, I am living in a faith tale, and when I boil everything down, there is no place I’d rather be. Yet I wonder at what point prayer and financial supporters are going to put me in the same category as the boy who cried wolf, viewing me as if I was in a fairy tale and no longer a faith tale.

I had been communicating for months, oh say, since last September, with New Organization X, hoping that I had found a new home and ministry for me. And many of them excitedly contacted me saying what a good fit New Organization X sounded for me…

You can see where this is headed, right? If this were a fairy tale there would be clear good guys and clear bad guys, but it’s not. New Organization X isn’t the bad guy and I haven’t been done wrong, however, in faith tales not everything makes sense in the immediate. In case my discomfort of saying what has happened is too vague and you’re not sure what I’m dancing around … New Organization X decided I was not a good fit for them.


If this were a fairy tale there would be clear good guys and clear bad guys, but it’s not.


My initial response to this plot twist was embarrassment. To have shared publicly the plan, knowing it wasn’t a given and things could go wrong and now to come back … and say SURPRISE (again!). Well, I felt a bit like the girl who cried wolf.

In the end I believe this has been God’s provision and protection for me. Not that New Organization X is a bad organization, but it most likely is not the best fit for me. In a bit of shock on the Monday morning I got the call, I headed off to Zumba to move while the news sank in. God and I chatted during the class and he asked me, “Amy, what do want to do?” I said, “I’m at the stage of life where I want to be pouring into the next generation of missionaries, using my writing for your kingdom, and continuing my work with the visiting scholars from China who are at Denver University.

God asked, What have you been doing while you thought you were preparing for New Organization X?

Um, mentoring people new to or going to the mission field, spending hours on writing each week, and working with Chinese.

So basically you’re doing what you want to do, what I’ve made you good at and opened doors for. The problem is it doesn’t fit into a nice tidy title that you think makes what you are doing is “legitimate.”

God has been challenging my ideas of what makes something legitimate. In faith tales, legitimacy comes from God, not from an organization (though God certainly loves and uses organizations!), or a title, or a tidy box.


Faith tales don’t always end this way, but I can say this one really is better than a fairy tale.


Though I may feel like the girl who cried wolf, the truth is, I’m more like Abraham, who was asked to leave home without a clear (to him) destination. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that my time with old organization was over, and it was time to “leave home.” What I hadn’t foreseen were the ways God was going to take the different pieces of me and create a new story.

Faith tales don’t always end this way, but I can say this one really is better than a fairy tale.

So, for what feels like the 718th time this year I asked my supporters, “Will you continue to walk this path and support me through prayers, friendship, and finances?” I can understand why Abraham would say ridiculous things, like claiming Sarah was his sister. Faith tales are not for the faint of heart, are they? I’ve definitely wanted to make my own ridiculous claims this past year.

When we tell ourselves the gospel, we need to check every now and then to make sure we’re in faith tale mode and not fairy tale mode, knowing one day we can really say, “And they all lived happily ever after!”


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Image Credit: Daniel Rocal, Creative Commons

Amy Young


Amy Young is readjusting to messy middle of life in the US after more than twenty years in China and the recent death of her dad. When she first moved to China she knew three Chinese words: hello, thank you and watermelon. Often the only words really needed in life. She is known to jump in without all the facts and blogs regularly at messymiddle.com and tweets as @amyinbj and is the most unbeautiful pinner Pinterest has ever seen (but she's having fun!).

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