watching, reading, and writing stories

Beauty and Looking in the Mirror

on March 4, 2015

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One of my favorite movies when I was younger was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I loved Bell, her enthusiastic reading matched my own, and her kind spirit that looked beyond the outward appearance struck a chord in my own heart. I wanted to be just like her. Plus her yellow ball gown was gorgeous and yellow is my favorite color. So a couple weeks ago, a friend let me borrow a book called Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley that uses the basic plot from Beauty and the Beast as a starting point. I’d never read a book about Beauty and the Beast before, and I found this one very engaging. The characters were much deeper than what can be shown in a short animated film and the descriptions were detailed. I particularly liked how Beauty came by her name.

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In the book, her real name is Honour, but as a child she prefers the name Beauty, and so everyone comes to call her by this nickname. But as she ages, the “Beauty” title becomes ironic. She looks nothing like her gorgeous sisters, but everyone is used to calling her Beauty, so she keeps the name. However she develops a strong sense that she is not beautiful and will never be so. She accepts the fact and dresses more commonly, even being mistaken for a boy on occasion. This perception of herself continues when she winds up living with the Beast. There are no mirrors in his mansion, so she never sees herself and continues to believe that she is ugly. She even refuses to wear the most fancy dresses offered to her, because she cannot see herself wearing them, they are too extravagant in her eyes and she is not worthy of them. But after the climax, when the spell is broken, she finally sees herself in a mirror, and realizes how she has changed since she came to live with the Beast. She is taller, and elegant, and Beauty is an appropriate title after all.

As I was thinking about what to post about today, I started to think about the passage in James where he compares looking in a mirror to reading God’s Word and then doing what it says, or acting on what you see. James 1:23-25 “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does.”

It was easy for Beauty to remain ignorant, because there were no mirrors around to tell her differently. And even if people around her, like the Beast, or her family when she visited, told her she had changed, she couldn’t believe them. She had to see it for herself. I think the same can be true for us. We need to read the Bible for ourselves to be able to see ourselves the way God sees us. We can listen to what pastor’s say, or our friends, or our family. But in the end, we also need to look for ourselves. And after looking, as James says, we need to do something about it.

I don’t leave the mirror in the bathroom till I’m satisfied with how I look, I work till what I see in the mirror is what I want to see. I want to do the same with God’s Word. In it, I see where God wants me to be, and I don’t want to just close the Bible and say, “Oh well, I’ll never be like that.” No I want to cry out for God to help me, and then step into living His way. Then one day, like Beauty, I can look in ‘the mirror’ and see all the change that He has worked in my life to make me truly Beautiful.


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