Monday, March 27, 2017

Tale as Old as Time

This isn't exactly a review. I wasn't terribly impressed with the live-action Beauty and the Beast. It was okay. A little more backstory, sure, but nothing like the Cinderella remake.

Beauty and the Beast used to be my very favorite movie. A heroine who loved to read and had her own horse? I was hooked. I loved idea of learning to love, rather than falling in love.

But I saw Belle's and the Prince's relationship differently after I married. I realized that happily-ever-afters are really just in stories. That people who are abusive stay abusive, people don't really change. So I was hoping that the new movie would revitalize the story for me, and help me see the beauty again.

I didn't learn what I wanted to. As I was watching Emma Watson's Belle and the Beast develop their relationship, the sudden realization came to me that I identified much more with the Beast than with Belle.

At that point, the story completely changed for me. It was no longer about falling in love. It was about forgiving myself. Forgiving myself for never being enough. For always falling short. For being imperfect. For being ugly. For making huge, earth-shattering mistakes, the consequences of which are also bourne by innocent people.

My seven-year-old poignantly summed it up two nights ago. "Mommy, it's okay to make mistakes. That is why we are here. God wants us to make mistakes so we can grow and be better."

Beauty and the Beast wasn't about Belle overcoming all odds to fall in love. It was about the Beast learning to forgive himself. Sometimes beauty is not only found within, it is found in imperfection and ugliness. Our struggle to learn and become like God is ugly and messy, and not at all heroic. At least not the way we think of heroism.

In reality, repentance is much more about the Beast's story, than about Belle's. I doubt that was the message the writers intended. But it is the one I needed.

Friday, February 17, 2017

"You have no power over me!"

When I was in kindergarten, I used to go to the principal’s office to read TIME magazine to him. Occasionally, he would ask me what a specific word meant. I remember being worried I wouldn’t explain it correctly, that I would be wrong. That summer, I spent weeks wrestling with math, sometimes literally banging my head on the desk in order to catch up enough to enter 2nd grade.

My mom was an early childhood educator, and my dad was a social worker. It was the early 80s, a time for child psychology. I was born with some natural intelligence, but my parents trained and honed it. I was in the Gifted classes. I was told how unique and special I was. How I was smart. I was raised to believe I could solve any problem, accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.

As I got older, I went to college, graduated in veterinary science, became a web designer, served a mission for my church, came home, and met a man.

He was not of my faith, and I was only interested in dating people who believed as I did. He said that something had been missing from his life. He wanted the family life, the life of faith. He wanted to have the relationship with God I had. He listened to the missionaries in my home, and was eventually baptized into my church.

Everyone in my ward said how cute we were together. When, the night before I moved away, he floundered over asking me to marry him, I said yes before he finished his sentence. I had prayed about it. I thought it was right.

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