A big personality dominates my days. She’s hilarious, wide-eyed and a bit sassy now and then. I’m trying to study coagulation cascade but third-born keeps interrupting me.
Mama, you say “NO, BELLE! I WON’T LET YOU DO IT!!!” Beauty and the Beast on tap this morning as I break out the laptop. Leighton is really into Belle these days. So when she initiates a reenactment I laugh and give it all I’ve got. (This is the scene where Belle insists on taking her father’s place in the Beast’s dungeon!) NOOOO, BELLE!!! I WON’T LET YOU DO IT!!!! (Arms waving, eyebrows tightly knit) I think she’s a little surprised I gave it so much gusto. She covers her mouth and giggles. After a few rounds of Papa and Belle she moves on.
Except now I’m entangled.
I’m thinking about book-loving, Gaston-refusing, self-sacrificing Belle. She reminds me of Love. Belle is unafraid to be herself and knows how to set boundaries. And yet when opportunity presents itself, she is capable of showing great love in the forms of honesty, patience, seeing past the exterior, forgiveness and great self-sacrifice. By the end of the movie she not only tamed the Beast, she changed his heart. She revealed him.
Like rain against hard ground, Love persists until we soften. Until our resistance is tamed. Until we are revealed.
Beauty and Beast are fairy tale characters, this I know. But Jesus is real and His love is unrelenting. Sitting in my chair, laptop warming, I sense a whisper against my heart. Reminding me of simplicity…how Love sees past the exterior of circumstance, past the current dial and setting of life. Jesus sees the real me. He sees the real you. Underneath. Doesn’t look away. Doesn’t shake a finger. Doesn’t scowl. Doesn’t ignore. In time we find it safe to expose ourselves to Him. The more we are exposed to Love, the more our beast is tamed…insecurity, fear, resentment, anger, depression, jealousy, striving, hopelessness, loneliness, despair.
In the end, amidst turmoil and torches, Beast is transformed. We finally see on the outside who he has always been on the inside. Here’s the kick. Beast was not transformed because he loved Belle. He changed because he was loved by Belle.
Perhaps my little fairy tale analogy seems silly today, but truth burns my heart even as I type. See, we are never transformed because we love God. We are changed, healed and made whole because we are loved by God. The Bible says we love Him because He first loved us. Sometimes we get that backwards. Try to love and do and be for God so He might love us back and maybe then we’ll be free of the chains and heavy burdens we carry. Yet Creator persistently finds unexpected ways to show us, reminds us, He went first. Loved first. Embraced first. Sacrificed first.
Everything we could ever do or be is simply a reciprocation. A response. It’s believing we are truly loved — first –and then living loved that truly tames and transforms the beast.