The Way Home a Princess Story is a children’s book written by Max Lucado and illustrated by Tristan Elwell.
Synopsis (from Goodreads): Princess Anna, adopted by the king in her infancy and now a young woman, is intrigued by the world that lies beyond the lush, green hills of the kingdom. When she seeks to satisfy her curiosity, she falls under the influence of the Lowlanders and begins to resemble their haggard style. Never to let a child slip away that easily, the king follows her, and trades his life for hers in order to provide her with a way back home. Despite the king’s sacrifice, the choice to return home is ultimately Anna’s to make.
Discussion with child: I really enjoy Max Lucado’s picture books for children. The ones I have read are Christian allegories, but non-Christians can enjoy them as well. I plan to discuss a few of our favorites on this blog, starting with A Way Home: A Princess Story.
I read this with my 7-year-old during Holy Week. It is a good one around the Lent and Easter season as it is essential to remember what Jesus did for every single one of us, as we are all sinners.
For this discussion, we focused on the princess and her response to the situation. She had left her father’s kingdom and choose to live with the Lowlanders. She instantly knew she had made the wrong choice. When her father came to save her, she didn’t run to him nor accept his offer to go back with him. The book states, “She was frozen with shame.”
The word usage is critical. Many use guilt and shame interchangeably, but the two are not the same thing. Guilt can be helpful, and shame is always harmful. Guilt is recognizing that we did something wrong and having remorse for our actions. Shame is a negative feeling about ourselves due to our choices (or sin). Shame usually comes with a feeling that we are unlovable or unforgivable. This was the princess. She couldn’t imagine her father wanting her back in the kingdom after she had betrayed him and joined the Lowlanders. It is important to stress that God will always love and forgive us of our sins.
The best comparison that is discussed every Easter season is the difference between Peter and Judas. Both of these apostles betrayed Jesus. Yet, one was given the keys and was the leader of the church Jesus established. The other committed suicide. The difference between the two could be one felt guilt and the other shame.
Peter had great guilt and remorse for denying Jesus three times. Yet, he stuck around, was there when Jesus appeared to the disciples and declared his love for Jesus when asked three times. He had faith that Jesus was all loving and could forgive him of his sin.
Judas had shame and despair. He thought his actions were forgivable. He saw no way out and ended his own life. There is no doubt that if Judas had approached Jesus, either before or after the death and resurrection, Jesus would have forgiven Judas.
We must remember this and work to fight against any feelings of shame. They are not from God, and shame moves us to despair. There is no need for these feelings. Jesus always has His arms stretched out for us and will show us the way home. All we need to do is walk towards him.