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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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After Happily Ever After

Do you ever read the final page of a book and find yourself desperate to know what happens next?

To celebrate 30 years since the publication of Roald Dahl’s novel Matilda, Quentin Blake has released a series of sketches imagining different career paths that the eponymous heroine might have taken: astrophysicist, world traveller, librarian.

Jacqueline Wilson’s feisty character Tracy Beaker is also back. When her fans last met her, she was living in care and dreaming of a future filled with fame and fortune. In a new novel, we meet her again at the age of 27. She’s a single mum living on a rough estate, struggling to make ends meet, but offering her child what she herself never had: security and unconditional love.

Given an opportunity to reflect on where some of our – or our children’s – beloved fictional heroines are now may provoke reflection on the path our own lives have taken. Perhaps like Blake’s illustrations suggest of Matilda, we have found a fulfilling way to exercise our gifts. Perhaps, like Tracy, the realities of adult life feel a long way from our childhood dreams.

Either way, discovering what has happened to these characters may raise questions for us all. Their original stories had a happy ending, but how long does the happiness continue? In the long term, can the underdog really win out? Can dreams really come true? Can we really overcome our struggles and find a lasting sense of satisfaction, significance, and belonging?

None of us know what tomorrow will bring, let alone where we may find ourselves in 30 years’ time. But as Christians our security is rooted in the love of God. Our significance is anchored in the purposes of God. Our vision for ‘success’ is powered by the life of God’s Spirit in us.

So whether you are a world traveller or a single mum, it can be tempting to spend time looking back and comparing your current situation with your childhood dreams. But look forward also to the good work that God is doing in and through you (Philippians 1:6). What you will fight for? What temptations you will resist? Who you will sacrificially love? What hope you will nurture in others?

Rachel Smith
Rachel attends King’s Church Durham and works in marketing.


Rachel Smith


  1. This is one of my favourite reflections thus far. As a food bank manager and a trainer to foster carers and teachers on trauma and well being, I meet vulnerable folks every day and speak to care providers of the way we can help vulnerable children to recover, heal and to flourish. So many have had dreams crushed or stolen from them, yet as Christians we have treasure we can offer as we walk alongside those who hurt. We do have a hope and a future ( Jeremiah 29v11) and even when we feel overwhelmed with the needs of others around us who are struggling we must hold onto the truth that God never lets go of us and He can turn our sorrow, our hardships and unexpected life events into something precious. He can use us to be a blessing – to bring light into the darkness.(Matt 5v16a, Phil 2 v14-16,Romans 13 v12)

    By Liz Jermy  -  12 Oct 2018
  2. Thank you. I work with children focussing upon personal stories and our sense of self through autobiographical memories. These memories and life stories help us make everyday decisions for the future. I’ve never before thought about futures in this way and our hopes and dreams. As Christians we have the foundation of purpose and vision. I love this paragraph in your commentary. Christ is our anchor and hope in life.

    By Clare Allen  -  13 Oct 2018

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