Tuesday, May 2, 2017

What I Saw in Myself in 'Beauty & the Beast'

A few weeks ago, my family eagerly entered the movie theatre anxious to see the new Beauty and the Beast movie. Well, three of us were eager; my son was sort of forced to go.

Jaycee was so excited to watch her favorite characters come to life on the big screen. Every preview of the new Beauty and the Beast movie Jaycee saw on television would result in her calling to me, "Mama! Belle! Beast!"

She has loved Belle for some time. Jaycee was in hospital's ICU a couple of years ago when I found a VHS copy of 'Beauty and the Beast' in a movie cabinet. The moment Jaycee heard Belle sing the opening song on the cartoon version, she became a true fan. During that hospital stay, we watched the movie several times as it was clear she loved it. When Disney released the movie on DVD recently, you bet I snatched one up for Jaycee.

As the lights went down in the theater and the popcorn flew into our mouths, Jaycee and I joyously anticipated the next couple of hours. We smiled all the way through the movie. It was lovely and simply brilliant. Surprisingly, I felt emotional during a few of the scenes because it made me think of my own journey to find hope and peace in my life. (If you are familiar with the story line but haven't watched the movie yet, there will be no spoilers.)

The day the prince was transformed into a Beast came without warning and so unexpected. He was placed in isolation in his castle with hope growing dimmer everyday. All of his servants were transformed into various living objects or household items. The main difference between the Beast and the other fun loving characters was that they managed to stay positive and find a way to enjoy life despite the form they found themselves in.

When Belle arrived at the castle, she soon found herself in despair too. She felt hopeless and did not want to be in the doomed castle forever. The difference between Belle and Beast was clear though. She allowed the others in the castle to speak into her life and build her up while Beast did not. Belle even asks (in a song, of course) "How in the midst of all this sorrow can so much hope and love endure?" Belle and Beast both find hope and love again all while in the enchanted/cursed castle.

Watching all of this play out on the screen, I connected with the story in a new way.

You see there was a time after I brought Jaycee home from the NICU that I found myself in an unexpected situation. My daughter's birth was no surprise but her Down syndrome, AV canal defect, and congestive heart failure was. That was life changing news for her, my husband, and I. The first year of Jaycee's life was tough. More and more health issues came up in her first year of life. This meant doctors and surgeries. It was overwhelming. As the days passed in that first year, my optimism for a happy future was fading fast and I isolated myself for awhile as I couldn't bear to be around most people with seemingly perfect lives.

I, like the Beast, had no hope for a time in my life. If you want to see what a lack of hope looks like, watch the movie. It makes you grumpy, pessimistic, jealous, and angry. I couldn't see a way out for my daughter's health conditions. I was worried her life was going to end prematurely. Life didn't see fair for her and our family. I didn't want to hear the pep talks from people trying to speak into my life. After all, they didn't really know how I felt it.

As I saw the transformation of Beast play out, I couldn't help but think of my own emotional transformation. It has been 11 years since Jaycee was born. Many of my thoughts have changed thankfully and hope was restored to me years ago. Jaycee's health conditions didn't necessarily resolve. In fact, she is on more medications and sees more specialists now than when she was a baby. Her medical scares haven't stopped. Yet, I'm coping better and have more optimism than when her medical diagnoses first came.

I have learned there are things that are out of my control. I can't predict my daughter's future nor stop the illnesses that threaten her life, but I can trust God in all situations. I can also allow other people of faith to speak into me when I feel myself slipping into some old thought patterns of fear and hopelessness. Not everyone can understand my personal situation, but most everyone can identify with loss or fears related to parenting.

Beast's transformation was made possible by the power of real love. My transformation can be attributed to that too, but the love I felt was from God. With God, we can find redemption. We can find hope even when nothing is changing in our situation. God can give us new eyes to view our situation, and friends along the way to help us in our journey. 

Beast got the ultimate transformation at the end as he became a prince again. After my hope was restored through God, I became myself again too. I was back to my happy and mostly positive self and the darkness faded away.

That is the miracle that God's love can bring. Certainly, I never imagined I would be reminded of this as I watched Beauty and the Beast, but it happened. How can God remind you of the hope and love found in Him?

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