The Beauty of Belle

Something Beautiful Series by Riikka Johanna

There are many things that delight us about the classic story of ‘The Beauty and the Beast’, to the extent that we have just redone it in a real-life version. Why is it that Belle has made such an impact in our hearts? You may not be as Star-Eyed in adoration of Disney princesses, as you were as a little girl - even though some of us might be. There are things we can continue to learn from this beautiful, and strong female character. 

LIVING CONNECTED TO THE HEART

The scene opens – the French countryside, awakening morning, birds singing and a lovely maiden walking down to greet her community. It’s our European dream right there with the fountain squares, cobble stone streets and bakeries with fresh baguettes – right now, who wants to jump on a plane and get to the old, dreamy France? 
As charming as the village life may seem to us (who are fond of the French romance), the lady of our story isn’t particularly happy. She is longing for something. Have you listened to the words of her song the entire story begins with: ‘Little town; it's a quiet village. Every day, like the one before. Little town; full of little people –‘ it goes. There’s something going on behind the scenes – let’s take a look... 
‘There goes the baker with his tray, like always. The same old bread and rolls to sell. Every morning just the same since the morning that we came to this poor provincial town.’

This girl is simply bored – possibly a pretty good sign about a transition needed. She isn’t finding her tribe, either. The villagers’ opinion about her is clear, too:
‘Look there she goes; that girl is strange, no question.
Dazed and distracted, can't you tell? Never part of any crowd, 'cause her head's up on some cloud. No denying she's a funny girl, that Belle.’

It’s all because she has a dream. And she isn’t wanting to settle for any less.

She longs for an adventure, and sharing that with the special someone, one who understands. She isn’t interested in the ordinary, the always-the-same, never-moving-forward, the inside-the-box thinking. She is, after all, the daughter of an inventor – the craving for the new must come in the family. Even as she isn’t able to fully grasp what the adventure is, she is anticipating what it would look like. She believes that there is something more, which keeps her from settling to the mindset of the rest of the community. This gives her the strength to say ‘no’ to the expectations toward her – to marry in order to become a good servant wife and mother, giving birth to as many sons as possible -as was respected at the time. As a side note, there is so much richness and beauty to these things when done in love. But Belle knows that in this setting, it would mean becoming someone else’s forceful possession, and as the result... losing herself in it all. This is what makes her brave; she is living connected to her heart and giving attention to the desires in it - and she isn’t about to sell herself short. 

This could give us some food for thought, too. Are we allowing time and space for the desires we have, or used to have in our hearts? Do we pursue what’s actually important to us? Settling is always the simplest thing in the moment - but eventually becomes costly. Whereas pushing past the norms, calls for a challenge. But oh, is it even worth it!


LEARNING TO SEE DIFFERENTLY

Belle feels the turbulence of emotions like any of us – and to point out, no matter how presumed perfection is in regards to the Disney princesses, she is not perfect – isn’t that freeing! Belle’s working through some things – she’s just been captured with a threat to be imprisoned for life and believes that she will never see her beloved father again. Fair enough, tough spot. Even when the Beast has taken a polite step toward her to show some mercy, like inviting her for dinner - her attitude is closed off and resisting. She wants nothing to do with her capture. Yet something happens - it’s her friends! Sometimes we really need others to poke our bubble of perspective. With the company of the castle’s interesting cast of staff...introduces the joys and opportunities of their home to her. Then her perception starts to shift. Her place of imprisonment rather becomes a fascinating mystery, as she gets curious about where she has ended up. She starts to engage with an adventure that was always in her heart. Belle could have easily remained in the place of hatred by withholding herself. But instead, she learned to see the possibility and beauty still in the place of limitations. This very thing changed it all. She becomes a "guest" instead of a "victim" and a powerless prisoner of the circumstance.

As we choose to look around in the circumstance - we never wished to be in. Yet with openness and grace {even if at first it appears that our world ended and we lost it all)... many miracles start to happen. Instead of sitting in hopelessness or anger over something we cannot control (letting curiosity build up) can lead us into discoveries of what we weren’t capable of seeing before. There is always a way - light will overpower the darkness. Belle starts to see the Beauty...even in the Beast. He still might ‘not be the Prince Charming’ as what she acknowledges as beauty - but there is something sweet and almost kind about him. Even before when he was mean, coarse and unrefined...now he’s dear. I wonder why I didn’t see it there before?... she sings. 

We are never robbed of our choice of how we view our lives – we can choose to see with the eyes of limitations or possibilities. With the first option we always remain in bondage. Whereas, when focusing our attention to what is or could be possible... it all will start to come alive. 

LOVE THAT SACRIFICES

The story continues to unravel the most beautiful thing of all - sacrificial, unconditional love. I will give up all my rights so that you can live; I will pay the full price so that you can be free. John 15:13 shows us; ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.’ The reason Belle got into the castle in the first place was her willingness to lay down her life for another - as she exchanged her freedom for that of her father. She eventually is released to return to her father, sadly he is found sick. But the Beast who now steps up, and makes a sacrifice - maybe for the first time in his life. He lets Belle go - even when that costs him everything. The time is almost up for the curse over him to ever broken - something only she could do. He has now learned to love - to put another’s interest first. Sometimes love lets go, when the other one needs it – even when there’s no guaranteed return. 

All of this makes me think of Jesus a whole lot – being willing to die by paying the cost of the sin that belonged to us. So that we could live in the freedom that belongs to Him. With that, He goes to the extent of allowing us to go on our journeys when we need to - it is in the place of freedom. We can then realize how much he has already loved us. Then by choice, we can actually start to love Him too! That is what True Love is really about – Freedom and Choice. 

And Belle returns to her now Prince - the curse is broken, and the restoration is complete. Her name means that also - Belle truly is beautiful. We are starting to notice, more than anything else, Beauty is Created and Cultivated by Courageous Choices. Being a Real-life Princess comes from the Heart. <3
 

LifeRiikka IkonenComment