I can’t remember when it first started.

But I think every little girl’s always wanted to be a princess.

Haven’t we all pretended to be one when we were small? I know I did.

The other day one of my best friends jokingly called me Cinderella. I’m 21. I melted.

I think it started to change when I read C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The children — Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy — become kings and queens of Narnia. When I saw the 2005 movie of Lewis’ book, I was eleven. I remember staring wide-eyed at the screen, wanting nothing more than to be a queen.

That was what I would play when I was younger. I would go out to our massive backyard and walk a circle in the corner near the fence. I walked the same circle so often that I wore a track in the hard dirt (my family still calls it the dog run), and while I walked, I conjured up visions of courts and crowns and beauty and wisdom.

Then I read The Lord of the Rings, and if you’ve been here a while, you know how I feel about Tolkien. He’s the source of all my adventure-love. I met characters like Arwen, the elf-princess. She was beautiful, stunning, drop-dead gorgeous. She was wise; centuries of experience were in her gray eyes. She was so courageous, willing to give up her immortality and eternal life for the man she loved more than life itself.

I met Éowyn. The Shieldmaiden. The warrior princess. She killed the Witch-King, and over the course of two books, we watched her grow from an inexperienced girl to a woman of courage. She is slender, with porcelain skin and golden hair, and I’d be lying if I didn’t see myself in her a little bit.

And I kept walking on my well-worn trail, kept spinning worlds and beauty and magic and royal blood out of the fine dust that kicked up around my tough, bare heels.

To this day, those secret magic sessions are held close to my heart. Many are the nights I lull myself to sleep with the cradle song of mountains, adventure, and queenship.

There was a time, probably when I first went to college, that I pushed those daydreams away a little bit. I forgot about them. With the advent of a new season of my life, it’s entirely possible that I thought I was too old for dreams like that.

One day — I feel sure it was a day of sunshine — they returned to me. Or, rather, I returned to them, unearthing them from the recesses of my mind as from a well-worn trunk filled with tapestries and dust.

When I remembered them, a field of green came flooding over my consciousness, forming rivulets and valleys and a whole meadow and a whole country.

I remembered who I was.

And who I was — who I am — is a princess.

It feels a little strange to write that down, in a world where words like democracy have become an integral part of our vocabulary.

But the fact of the matter is that when the King created me, He had royalty in mind.

He planted adventure and courage in my heart. He put the tools within my reach and the skills in my hands.

Don’t we think that everything we’ve ever dreamed of being comes from Him, anyway?

He’s the One Who breathed into the dreams. Gave them life. He made our dreams, like He made us, in His image. He made us to stretch out our hands to seek the outline of His face underneath our fingertips.

When He made me, He knew what He was doing. He knew that my heart would cry out for mountains and adventure and wide open skies and for my life to be like what I read about in Tolkien.

And He has always whispered to me that He will give me more, more than I have ever dreamed. He will give me more than the metaphors, more than adventure, more than what I read about in Tolkien. And He has given me more.

He has given me Himself.

He made me to be everything I’ve always dreamed of being, because everything I've always dreamed of being -- wild and free and adventurous and brave -- is who He created me to be.

Is who I am.

What held me back from this Abundant Life was my own unworthiness, my own mess, my own inadequacy. But when He died, He held me close within Himself on the cross, and I died with Him.

And then -- oh, yes, then -- He breathed life into me like He did into Adam at the Creation of man -- breathed into my cold body and raised me back to life.

You see, the redeemed have been handed their new identity. It is in us. We have it. We possess it. We no longer have to wish for it. It is here, because He has given it to us. Free of charge.

I no longer have to dream of being wild and free and adventurous and brave. I no longer have to dream of being a princess.

Because, you see, I am.

I am everything I've ever dreamed of being, for the simple fact that Jesus died for me and breathed life into the identity He created for me at the dawn of time.

I was asleep, but now I am awake.