Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Beauty of True Love

It's amazing how God can touch your heart through music and movies in such unexpected ways!  A few nights ago, while I was painting in my new home, several songs from Disney's "Beauty & the Beast" ended up playing on one of my specially created Pandora channels (yes, I'm a dork and I listen to Disney songs and musicals lol). Of course, this caused me to think and reflect a lot about the movie. It's been a while since I've watched it, but I've always enjoyed it. It's a fun and delightful treasure for kids and adults alike. It also has a lot of depth and substance that probably gets overlooked.

I feel as though we all need to learn the lesson of true love and surrender that is at the heart of this movie. The Beast learned that love is only love when it's a choice. When he realized that he truly loved Belle, he put his selfish desires aside. He was no longer rude, angry, or demanding his own way. He became a good example of the definition of love when He put HER first (as well as her ailing father, whom he had previously shown no mercy or compassion for). He realized that forcing her to stay, and making her his prisoner, could never be true love. I think it was truly a turning point in the story where he told Belle that he was releasing her. Moments later, he told Cogsworth that he "let her go" and that he "had to". Cogsworth was in shock and asked him why. The Beast's answer was simple, "Because...I love her." 

Belle's own realization of true love came later after she confronted Gaston when she returned home. While trying to save her father from going to the asylum, she proved via the magic mirror that her father wasn't crazy and that the Beast existed. When Gaston realized that she was defending the beast, and that she had feelings for that "monster", she had the guts to say that Gaston was the true monster. To me, that was a very profound thing because if you look at the Beast and Gaston side by side, no one would dare to say such a thing. Though, that's because people usually look at appearances instead of the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

If there's one thing that God has constantly reminded me of over the years, it's this very powerful and simple truth: "It's all about the heart, Melissa." Whatever or whomever you're judging, it all boils down to the HEART of it. The heart is all that ever truly matters. Belle could definitely see that the Beast had a good heart despite what he looked like on the outside. The opposite was true of Gaston; pretty on the outside, but a rotten heart on the inside. I probably don't even need to mention how the story ends, but of course Belle came running back to the Beast. It always thrilled my heart how the Beast was so overwhelmingly touched that she did. He thought that even though he did the right thing in letting her go, he had lost his chance not only to have his curse broken, but to have the woman he loved. So, having her CHOOSE to come back to him (and to love him) was the most amazing thing in the world to him!

True love; it proved to be stronger than any curse....even death. That fact, my friends, is no fairy tale! That IS real life! The best example of that is Jesus' true and everlasting love for us. Through His sacrifice, He conquered the grave for us! He brings us back to life when we are dead inside and gives us life eternally! But, of course, we have to choose (like Belle did) to love and be loved. Just as He came (and is coming back again) for us, we have to come to HIM! 

I've learned so much by pondering on the deep lessons found in that movie. I'm glad that God found a way to bring it to my mind from something so simple as those "random" songs from my Pandora station. Though, nothing is random with God. His timing is so perfect! He knew I needed to reflect on such things right now because as I mentioned last week, getting my new home has been a very emotional thing for me for so many reasons. I will officially move in after some minor interior work gets finished. Though, as that time grows closer, my many emotions continue to surface and intensify. My primary emotion: loneliness. I've never lived alone before. I married young, so I went straight from living at home to being a housewife. Then, it was back to living with my parents after the kids and I were forced to leave. Granted, the kids DO live with me, but it's still a lonely and incomplete feeling when you are so used to having other adults or a spouse in the household. This reality is what is finally drawing out the last bit of grief that has been hanging on since the divorce. I have been anticipating this, but have dreaded it even though I welcome the closure of it all. 

Like I stated earlier, God's timing on this is perfect. Today would have been my 12th wedding anniversary. Yet, here I am...single. In my marriage, I was always like Belle; trying to tame the Beast and loving him no matter how much he raged. Though, in my case, I didn't get a happy ending. The prince that exists somewhere inside that raging creature never emerged. His heart hardened instead of softened until terror and rage took over completely and now, the Beast is all that is left. I mourned then, and I mourn now, as I continue to hope and pray for peace & change in that heart and that he truly will allow God to transform him into who he is meant to be. God showed me then, as well as now, that it's in HIS hands and not mine. Surrendering someone or something is SO HARD, but it's only when we give up control to Jesus that everything gets set right again and He can stabilize our lives. We just have to learn to let go. 
Letting go of people has never been easy for me; and I feel like I have had to let go of so many! I hate it, but sometimes it's necessary for one reason or another. Actually, I think that the main reason God wanted me to think on that movie was so that I would face the reality that there was someone else that I needed to let go of. When it truly dawned on me, it literally brought me to my knees because I knew that God had been nudging me for a while to release this person to Him. It's someone that I love deeply, but knew that God was asking me to let go and release this person into His hands. I have been avoiding it and living in denial that I was even holding on in the way that I was. However, when God worked on my heart through those crucial lessons of the movie, I couldn't deny what had to be done any longer. I cried and cried and felt the need to kneel and raise my hands to the Lord and say out loud, "I release _____ to you."

When I raised my hands to the Lord, I also remembered the story of Jenny's pearls that has always meant so much to me. In the story, Jenny's Daddy asks her to give up her cheap pearl necklace to him (which she loves more than anything). She refuses and keeps clinging to them until one day she hands them over. In return, her Daddy's gives her a REAL strand of pearls. I felt like I was giving up my prized "pearl" necklace. To me, this was someone I felt was such a treasure and that I was meant to have, but God asked me to trust Him and hand that person over. I don't know what God is going to do in that situation, but I trust Him. It doesn't mean that that treasure is gone, but God will do something with it. It could be that I'm not meant to have it, or maybe I'm just not meant to have it right now or in the way that I thought. Or, maybe he will give me something totally different. I don't know. All I know is that this person belongs to the Lord, not to me. When and if they are meant to be "mine" is up to God. It hurts so very much, but I know that I had to make the same kind of decision that the Beast did by "releasing" them. In doing so, I'm demonstrating that I truly do love this person by giving them their freedom. Maybe they'll have their moment like Belle did and come back. Or, maybe they aren't my "Belle". Either way, I am open to whatever God is determining for me. He will give me something genuine. I don't have to settle for fake pearls!

My heart has been broken more times than I could ever count. Yet, I still have hope  that I will get a "happy ending"; it just may not be in the way that I think (or with whom I think). All I know is that God's new beginning for me was a whole lot different (and better) than anything I could have imagined, so I know that He has the rest in hand too! It took these past three horrible years (well, probably my whole life) to get it, but it's finally here! Maybe sometime soon, some of my other dreams will come true too! I just have to keep trusting and believing that God will do it (because He WILL when He chooses to - and when I'm ready for it). Just like in another Disney movie ("Tangled") we sometimes find a new and better dream. A classmate of mine had reminded me of that fact three years ago when I told him that my dream (my family as I knew it) was now dead and he assured me that it wasn't, but that it was just different and that I would have a new dream. I've always held onto that and I believe that he's right. God is restoring me and building me bigger and better dreams; new and improved versions of the ones I have always had. He is so amazing!
Grace and peace to you, my friends! I hope that what I've shared will help you as much as it has helped me. Learning (and re-learning) about true love, surrender, and sacrifice is something that never gets old. It's also important to remember (like Cinderella would say) to "have faith in your matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dreams that you wish will come true." Things may not always happen as soon (or in the way) that we would like, but God knows our hearts. If we continue to delight in Him, and seek him FIRST, He will give us our heart's desires (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 6:33). We have to keep persevering and having faith in Him. He is greater than any fairy godmother could ever be and the TRUEST love we'll ever find (because God IS love)! He is a dream come true all by Himself! Anything else is just a bonus! Believe in Him! He'll come through for you...because He loves you!! That's the beauty of true love, dear ones!! Be infused! God bless you!! 

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