This reflection comes from Mockingbird friend Michael Belote.

My family recently returned from a trip to Disneyworld. While we were at Animal Kingdom, we attended (mostly for my wife’s sake) a stage performance of Beauty and the Beast.

Believe it or not, I had never actually seen or read the entire story. I knew from flipping through channels, the infamous Meatloaf music video, and memorabilia commercials. I could piece together a love story with a pretty girl, an ugly animal, and singing cutlery. That was basically all I knew.

Watching the play, though, I could not help but be impressed with the beautiful gospel story beneath the main story. Granted, I also could not help but think that the Beast basically kidnaps Belle, and wasn’t really sure how this led to them falling in love, but never mind that.

The critical part of the story that I found intriguing was that the Beast was cursed—he could not love another until that person loved him first, unconditionally.

I let that sink in for a few moments. The Beast is a handsome man gone wrong, transformed and mutated from his true self by a curse. He cannot, through any action of his own, get back and obtain his true nature. Instead, he can be transformed into his true nature only when someone else chose to love him in spite of his hideousness. He must have love imputed upon him–he must be deemed beautiful without coercion, one must freely choose him. Belle chooses him.

Such is our life as well—we each have a true nature, which God aspires for us to attain, that is beautiful. But we find ourselves, in the affliction of sin, the cursed and hideous beloved to our most beautiful lover. We cannot, through actions of our own, become the rightful and true beloved; rather, it is only by the love imputed upon us by God that we are transformed.

Or, as G.K. Chesterton said, “one must be loved before he becomes lovable.”