Neverland Girl

His plan might have worked if I hadn’t been a girl. My brother was three when I was born and lived in a make-believe world created from bedtime stories and pages of well-worn children’s books. He loved hearing the same stories repeatedly, and his favorite tale included pirate ships and crocodiles. His relationship with fantasy was very real and his small world was transformed into his own version of Neverland.

Including him in the arrival of a new baby, my parents asked what name he liked. To no one’s surprise, he chose “Peter Pan.” Before ultrasounds existed, gender reveals happened in real time. When I was placed in my mother’s arms wrapped in a pink blanket, the name-game took a sudden U-turn. “Peter” was no longer an option, so they opted for “Wendy Ann” instead. True story.

Once I was old enough to know the tale of Peter Pan, I, too, became infatuated with the boy who never grew up, his pixie friend, and the love of his life—Wendy. I liked my name from the beginning, connecting it to the story of the girl who flew to a faraway land hoping to stay forever young.

When I was ten, my dad took me to a book sale and said I could pick as many as I wanted. Most were only ten cents, but I was cost-conscious and only chose a few. One I wanted with all my heart, and almost put back, was an original edition of Peter Pan and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. Ten dollars was marked inside the cover, a far cry from ten cents. I truly believed he would say it was too much, but he didn’t! He smiled and said, “Put it in our stack.”

I felt connected to that fairy tale and saw Wendy as a kind girl.

She was a dependable daughter and a responsible big sister—a good little girl, embodying everything I believed I was supposed to be. Spending most of my childhood and adult life striving to become that perfect fictional character, I failed repeatedly. My perception of Peter’s Wendy was transformed from traits of innocence and goodness to include those of defeat and surrender.

I recently told my youngest daughter that while I had always believed Wendy to be a sweet, good girl, I also saw her as compliant, docile, and weak.

“Oh, no!” she said. “Don’t you know who Wendy was? She was able to captivate all those Lost Boys with wisdom and discernment, commanding their attention as they sat at her feet. She did that with stories. Wendy was a storyteller! You are exactly who your name says you are—‘Storyteller.’”

Having spent the majority of my years trying with exhaustion to fit a mold of perfection, I was enlightened by her wise words. While I believed I had failed in every sense of my name, I had actually realized the very essence of the fictional girl I once aspired to become. And in that, I saw my true self. I found exactly who God intended me to be: dreamer, adventure seeker, creator, speaker of truth—storyteller!

For we are His workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Wendy Lipham lives on the Alabama Gulf Coast where she has taught interview and communication skills for over twenty years. Having heard God’s call to work with young women who have experienced sexual violence and abuse, she is further inspired by the growth of her “Beautifully Broken” story group. She enjoys writing, drawing, and needlepoint. Most of all, she loves living life beside her husband and hearing the laughter of their seven grandchildren.