… there was a princess. The problem was, she didn’t know she was a princess and so her life didn’t look anything like a princess’s life might look. Sometimes, she wondered if there were other things she might be capable of doing, people she was supposed to know and places she was supposed to go. But it was too easy to listen to the people around her, people who had been sent by an evil prince to confuse her and whose job it was to make sure she never remembered who she was created to be.
The land where the princess lived was ruled by a good and compassionate king, and he watched over the princess. Even though she did many stupid and destructive things, the kind king loved her very much and made sure the princess continued to have a roof over her head and food on her table, and he secretly sent people to protect her from the worst consequences of her choices. In spite of how much he loved her, she never came to him or sought his counsel, and although his heart broke over the destruction that was becoming her life, he continued to do everything he could to protect her.
One day, the king received word that the princess was in real trouble. She was destitute, and her heart was broken, and she had come to believe that there was nothing good about her or about her life. The king realized that she might – at last – be willing to accept the kind of help he had always longed to give her. He searched among the knights of his kingdom for one who would be capable of showing her his great love and compassion. After much reflection, he selected one of the bravest and most humble of his knights. This knight had fought valiantly to defend his kingdom, and had devoted his life to its protection in times of war and times of peace. Although he was very strong, he was also very gentle, and his heart was tender. The king knew this knight was just what the princess needed.
And so the knight was sent to find the princess, and when he did, he discovered that she was very broken and fragile, and sometimes tried to hurt the people who wanted most to help her. But the king had given the knight the ability to see her heart, to see what the king had created her to be, and he patiently loved her and tended to her and protected her while she healed – even though she didn’t really understand that’s what was happening.
After many years, when he felt she was ready, the king sent a messenger to the princess. She had not realized in all this time that the land where she lived was governed by the good king, but this messenger shared the story of the king and some of the things he had created the princess to be and do, and she was overwhelmed and humbled to learn how patient he had been with her all this time. She went immediately to the king’s court, and fell at his feet, and wept many tears of regret and shame as she asked for his forgiveness. He was most gracious with her, and raised her up, and kissed her hands and her eyes and told her not to cry any more. When he asked her about the knight he had sent to her, the princess suddenly realized what a great gift from the king the knight had been. She went and brought the knight to the king’s court, and together they asked his blessing on them, that they might be married in his sight and live together to serve the work of his kingdom. And the king agreed.
It would be lovely to say that the princess and the knight lived happily ever after, but in spite of all they had been through together, they were sometimes not smart about seeking the king’s counsel, and the evil prince, who was enraged that they had become so determined to do the work of the king, sometimes sent difficulties into their lives to try and discourage them. In spite of those challenges, the knight continued to do everything he could to protect the kingdom and the princess, and they reminded one another often to do the king’s bidding instead of things that were easy.
This week, the princess celebrates the 66th anniversary of the day the king brought the knight into the world. She celebrates all that he is, and all that he has done, and the way he looked into her heart and saw the woman the king intended her to be – before anyone else had seen those things. And she celebrates the service he has given to the kingdom, the selfless years he gave to protect it and serve it, even when it wasn’t popular or well-thought of. She celebrates the man he is, his integrity and honor, and gratefully celebrates that he brought those things to her, as gifts, before she ever thought she might be worthy of them.
Happy birthday, Nicholas Steven Watson, the greatest gift God has ever given me besides his Son. I am so grateful for you, and humbled by the ways you have served your family and your country over the course of your life. You have my admiration, my respect, and my deepest love. May God richly bless you in this coming year for all that you have been and done.