On Believing in Dragons

“Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

— GK Chesterton

It never really does end happily ever after. At least not for middle-life-me: kids in school, husband working long hours, me tumbling into bed late at night in a messy bedroom in a cluttered rental? I feel like my life is anything but a fairy tale. A cautionary tale perhaps, a dysfunctional reality show, yes, but never a fairy tale.

The ends of us are not in wedding bells clanging clanging in the church tower, hands held looking out over a sunsetted sea, a kingdom at rest and at peace. The endings of us aren’t Disney movies and they don’t really feel like Happily-Ever-After.

The endings of us are in hospital beds or in auto crashes. The ends of us are addictions and betrayals. The ends of us are in the hard reality of mortgages, of family splits and in divorces. A part of us dies when things like this happen; when life moves on.

We don’t really believe in fairy tale endings, that the dragon can be slain and the world can be put right again, because we’ve never seen it. We grow too old for our books and understand that life is so much harder than we ever thought it could be.

Life is worry. Life is longing. Life is the Littlest Mermaid who has no voice and walks on bare feet that feel like swords. Life is Rapunzel caught in a tower without hope of freedom. Life is Cinderella on her hands and knees in the fireplace ash.

But I think we all want to believe in dragons and that they can be slain. Even the most hard-hearted of us would like to think, in a tiny little-girl corner of our minds, that dragons are real. They live under the sea or on a distant planet. But that yes, they are in fact real.

And that I, with my tiny sword, can somehow find the vulnerability, the Goliath’s spot, the chink in the armor.

I can slay the dragon.

I can make it end well.

I can change the world.

But I put away my book; I put away my idea. I close the chapter on that “thing that will not go away” in my mind. I decide that I am too small and that the world is too big.

We read fairy tales at the same age we believe we can be astronauts or fire fighters or the President. We believe we can slay dragons at the same time we believe we can be Captain America or Wonder Woman. Somewhere along the way we grow too old for our books and we stop believing.

No. I cannot change the world. I once believed it. Maybe around the same time that I believed in fairy tales did I believe that I could make a difference.

But the thing is, we can slay dragons.

We can change the world.

Things may not go perfectly for each of us and our endings may be in betrayals or divorces or in pain, but while we are living in this Cinderella-ash life, we can change this planet. We can.

Put away your fairy tales if you have to. But don’t you ever stop believing that YOU can affect change. Don’t you ever stop believing that YOU can make a difference. Don’t EVER stop believing that YOU can change the face of the church

of humanity

of the world.

Because you can.

Fairy tales exist to show us that, not only do dragons exist but that we have the power to slay them. And the fairy tale ending? Maybe it begins when we realize that we have the freedom and the power to make a difference.

 When did you stop believing you could change the world? Maybe you didn’t. How did you keep that hope alive?


  1. says

    oh.my.goodness…. this is something that i am truly dealing with as i seek my true self this year. i believe my true self knows that dragons can be defeated… i want to believe that again… to regain that view of a world where i am not lost in the sea… adrift to be thrown around by the waves…. where there is rescue even if it is in the hands of a small girl with a sword…. thank you for this….

    • Sarah Markley says

      yes. there is. or a small girl with a bow and arrows (susan) or a small vial of healing potion (lucy).

      there is rescue.

      thank you so much for your comment, lauree!

  2. says

    Clever, encouraging post, Sarah! Love it. I sometimes still believe I can change the world, sometimes I don’t. Much depends on how much I’m letting Christ in on any given day, any given moment. With Him I can slay even the most vehement dragon. Without I am like chaff blowing in the wind, with no direction and no power.

  3. says

    I can change the world, I know I can…. In fact, I know I am, in whatever small way. By bringing up our kids we are changing the world, by teaching them our beliefs, by doing what we do every day we change the world in small ways. I believe I’m changing the world, and I hope I will change it in bigger ways too. When you stop believing, then you stop having the capacity to do it.

  4. Michelle in Htown says

    I raised three really good humans (flawed, as we all are, but good), and in doing so, I changed the world. Each time they do good in this world, a little of me — the worry, the prayer, the persistence, the pestering, the unconditional love — is in the deed. Mothering is so very difficult, but I truly believe these good young adults are who they are in part because of what I did.

  5. Georgi says

    Reminds me of that quote by Mother Theresa – if you can’t feed 100 people, feed just one. We so easily forget, when we are caught up in cleaning house and teaching kids and doing laundry that sometimes just a smile at a stranger in the grocery store can mean so much. Some days I feel that’s all I have to give, but what good is that? And yet…I agree with Chesterton (and love that quote!) Dragons can be defeated, and we must never quit trying to make this world a better place. Thanks, Sarah!

  6. says

    Interesting post. I like how you put it- we certainly can become cynical with age and suffering. And considering what God has done for us, this should not be so. It is NOT going to always be this way, this sad and ugly and uncertain. We have so many promises that tell us otherwise.

    Yet… I would put it a little differently.

    I can not change the world. That is not my job, really. My job is to do the work God has put in front of me, with his help. Just that, even if it is just raising my babies and talking to a sick friend. But amazingly, through me, and all of his children, HE is changing the world. He is the dragon-slayer.

    • Suzanne says

      Emily! Way to go! I was just waiting for an answer like yours! For me, I also cannot change the world, but Christ can, through me. You are 100% right on — God is our dragon slayer!! He may ask me to take a hold of the sword with Him, but in reality it’s God who is behind my victories. Isn’t it GREAT that we have a Mighty Warrior who cares for us, who will protect us beyond our comprehension, Our Awesome God!!!!!! Thank you for your post, Emily. :-)

    • says

      I didn’t read through the comments before I added mine, I should’ve. You stated it better, Emily.

      Sorry, Sarah. Not meaning to come down on you, in the least. I hope it wasn’t taken that way…truly.

  7. says

    Thank you for this. I have been organizing and preparing a for a ladies retreat this weekend for my sisters in my church. I have been excited about messages of relationship and sisterhood that God has given me for the weekend. I have also been bombarded with selfish attitudes and complaints about trivial things from the same women God wants to speak to. I needed a reminder that the power I have on my side is bigger than the force against me. xoxo

  8. kathleen Lu says

    Yes…I forgot this for a long time. Actually I forgot that He calls us to be “dragon slayers” for Him. I got comfortable in my life forgetting the hurting and lost around me. He shook things up though in this past year… Through the power of His Holy Spirit He impacts the world through us! Soldiers, dragon slayers, agents…whatever we want to call it-that is the example that He set for us. We don’t shrink back, we persevere and endure in spreading His love, the message of the cross in any creative way we can think of so that many will be saved! What a generous blessing to be able to be a part of something so much greater than ourselves.

  9. says

    I don’t believe it anymore, and to say that I should is more than I can handle. It’s bigger and harder than I can possibly accomplish. I need the Prince Charming…I need the ultimate Dragon Slayer…I can’t do it on my own! Without Jesus I’m a pathetic loser who will continue to fail. And, even with Jesus, I still might fail…if He is allowing for me to be “sifted as wheat”. The fairy tale ending will not happen and I will only be saved as through fire. I will stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ and all the impurities will finally be burned away, if life on this earth hasn’t already seared them from my flesh.

    The only way I can be any source of change agent for the world is to tell them the cruel hard truth…

    “You (I..we ALL…) suck, but Jesus saves!”

    (Sorry about the rant — a li’l bit — I was with you until the ending. Only through Christ can I do anything…HE is my Prince Charming.)

      • Suzanne says

        This is tongue-in-cheek — wouldn’t it be hilarious if there was a Christian demonstration with all the signs saying like you wrote, “We all suck but Jesus saves.”. I’m truly kidding but for some reason that’s a humorous image to me. :-)

    • Sarah Markley says

      Of course Michelle. I have never said that we do things outSIDE of the power or the grace of God. Of course we live and move and have our source of power from God.

      I never said that we didn’t.

      What I am saying is that we can change the world and that most of us grow up and stop believing that we can.

      The disciples changed the world. So did Paul. And every other amazing man and woman of God. But they did so, of course, through God. We are the hands and feet of Jesus and yes it is US, the beautiful Church and Bride of Christ, who can affect the world.

      • Georgi says

        Sarah, I just wanted you to know that I completely understood what you were saying, and that you were not at all insinuating that we work outside of the grace and power of God. I think sometimes Christians tend to err on the side of doing nothing, with the excuse that God hasn’t called them to do something specific. But really, he’s called _all_ of us to seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly – and to go into all the world and preach the gospel. So I think sometimes we forget that we already have a calling! I do think that He has called us to change the world – and I CAN change the world. There are glimpses of the “not yet”, as my pastor calls it, when the Spirit breaks in and works. And while it may not be pretty, there are rainbows in the midst of storms.

  10. says

    Okay…what I’m trying to say is…

    Fairy Tales exist to show us we all need a Prince Charming. And He came in the form of a man, yet fully God, and He will slay the Dragon. Until then, well…it’s not gonna be pretty…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *