There once was a princess. Although she had no golden crown for her head, she knew she was a princess because her daddy told her so. “Goodbye, my princess,” he’d say every day as he went off to slay dragons and make the kingdom safe for his devoted queen, his two princes, and of course, for his daughter, the princess.
The princess was a happy child. Her parents, the king and queen, provided for her every need, while her brothers, the princes, doted on their little sister. The first prince was charming, outgoing, and athletic, with dark, curly hair and playful, blue eyes. He brought the princess little gifts, taught her to dance, and always waved at her from the jousting field. The second prince was tall, clever, and artistic. His eyes were the deepest brown— like her own—and with him she discussed music, literature, and art.
When the princess was only 13, the king became very sick. One long year later he went to live in Heaven, leaving behind his deeply grieving queen, his two princes, and his princess—who by then was so preoccupied with becoming a young woman that she couldn’t understand the depth of his loss. The queen took over slaying dragons and keeping the kingdom safe—in fact, she became the heroine of her own story, which is to be told at another time. As for the princes, they struggled to find their rightful places out in the world while keeping a watchful eye on the princess.
The first prince arranged for her to visit him at university and encouraged her studies. The second prince recognized her creativity, and took her to concerts and the theater. But the princess had become stubborn and headstrong, declaring to the princes and to the great, wide, world: “I am 14! I can take care of myself!” And she stomped her foot. So the princes gave her some freedom so that she might find her own way, but they remained steadfast. The first prince had become a young man of great faith, and he prayed daily for her safe passage onward. When the second prince discovered the princess kissing a village rogue in the schoolyard, he stepped in with such uncharacteristic forcefulness that the princess dared not question his word, and the rogue was banished from her life forever.
The princess found triumph and failure and mischief and love and heartbreak—always with the two princes near enough to cheer her on or to cushion her fall.
“Whatever will I do?” the princess cried one day when she could see no way out of her troubles. The second prince laid a hand on her shoulder and told her plainly, “You will walk through the fire and come out the other side, as we all must from time to time.” The first prince sent her daily messages of love, and shared with her his favorite verse from the Book of Hebrews: I will never leave you, and I will never forsake you.
So it went, year after year. And in time, the princess learned a valuable lesson. She learned that she was just a girl, after all. But the two princes? They really, truly, were princes.