“Have courage. Be kind.” These are the words Cinderella kept repeating to herself in the last movie version of this most evergreen of stories. (By the way the story apparently comes from Southeast Asia. I am sure you did not know that.)

Yes, I do confess I went to see it. It was very cheesy as one would expect, but it did take me back to my childhood memories (the ones that most girls can probably identify with) of big dresses, handsome princes, talking animals… a magical world where everything was possible and nothing was dull.

The adult world into which we have now grown is so much more… dull. Perhaps it should be spelled a-dull-t. A-dull-tness has crept into our lives and is hard to shake off. My feet in reality are often too wide to squeeze into the average high street, high heel shoes sold at a high price. From mainly embarrassment and frustration I have learned that not everything has a happy ending, and that people’s meanness is hardly ever exposed, much less banished. The good people we are surrounded by have no power to wave their magic wands and take away all our heartaches. So we feel lonely, scared and dull.

There are real stories of comfort, courage and wisdom out there, waiting for us to engage with. They are not stories of Cinderellas and princes, but of real people, living real lives in very real situations. The great cloud of witnesses referred to in Hebrews 12.

Stories improve with re-telling, in fact they are there to be retold. Stories however are often looked down on, we associate them with something made up, untrue, out of this world, and even something we use just to put us to sleep rather energize us for life.

What if I were to tell you stories have always been a part of our lives, they were not only told and written down, they were painted and engraved in stone. It is our rational mind that robbed them of power and relevance.

All cultures are sustained by stories, the moral and ethical fabric of communities is shaped by stories we tell. Stories cross boundaries, break them and give you fresh perspectives. Stories invite you to participate.

Someone said: “Stories are like plant species that move readily but unobtrusively over surprising obstacles, including vast spans of time and space, quietly adapting to foreign environments, and then changing those environments.”

What are the stories that were those ‘plants’ for you, that found their way into your life, changed your inner environment and birthed fruit of courage and kindness? Tell me your story. Email me on Joanna@onerockinternational.com.

Cinderella is a great story, but as Christians we walk in the inheritance of much greater stories, and the fact that they are real and relevant are not the only reasons why we should read them and retell them. They also throw open the doors to greater possibilities, they call us out of despondency and despair towards courage and kindness.

The following blog series will look at two people whose stories inspired me and shaped me; Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael.

Joanna has a passion for mentoring female leaders to become mentors for a new generation. She is a founding director of One Rock, a board member of Renovare UK, a lecturer with Westminster Theological College, and is studying for a doctorate with Asbury Theological Seminary. She has written a biographies on Hudson Taylor and Amy Carmichael.