(Photo courtesy of elle.com)
Can an Ugly Heart Change?
A Lesson from ‘Beauty and the Beast’
By Selma Komisky
“Once upon a time in a faraway land, a young prince lived in a shining castle. Although he had everything his heart desired, the prince was spoiled, selfish and unkind.
But then one winter’s night, an old beggar woman came to the castle and offered him a single rose in return for shelter from the bitter cold. Repulsed by her haggard appearance, the prince sneered at the gift and turned the old woman away. But she warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within. And when he dismissed her again, the old woman’s ugliness melted away to reveal a beautiful enchantress.
The prince tried to apologize, but it was too late, for she had seen that there was no love in his heart, and, as punishment, she transformed him into a hideous beast and placed a powerful spell on the castle, and all who lived there.
Ashamed of his monstrous form, the Beast concealed himself inside his castle
with a magic mirror as his only window to the outside world. The rose she had offered was truly an enchanted rose, which would bloom until his twenty-first year.
If he could learn to love another and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken. If not, he would be doomed to remain a beast for all time.
As the years passed, he fell into despair and lost all hope. For who could ever learn to love a beast?”
– Beauty and the Beast (Narration); Disney
Ah, who doesn’t enjoy a good fairy tale? I think most of us as children grew up reading them but revisiting them as an adult seems to be so much more. Most of us are familiar with the popular French fairy tale “Beauty and the Beast.” The film features the Beast, a fictional character who appears in Walt Disney’s animated movie. Pondering this film, I was praying about what lesson we could learn from this beloved tale; this question came to me; “Can a person change?” Well, of course, you might say. People can lose or gain weight or these days (with the popularity of plastic surgery and Botox) change how their features look. Maybe they get a new haircut or dye their hair a different color or get glasses or contacts, etc. All these examples are true. Unfortunately, they only change the outward. Then I thought further, “How can we change our hearts inside?”
The Bible says in 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
And it also says in Jeremiah 17:9 in the Living Bible, “The heart is the most deceitful thing there is and desperately wicked. No one can really know how bad it is!” Like the Beast, he couldn’t just transform himself back to a prince on his own; we also can’t change ourselves on the inside.
I came across the following quote by Max Lucado from his book “Shaped by Grace: You Are God’s Masterpiece in the Making” that had a good point:
As I was being wheeled into heart surgery, he asked if I had any final questions. (Not the best choice of words). I tried to be witty.
“You’re burning the interior of my heart, right?”
“You intend to kill the misbehaving cells, yes?”
“That is my plan.”
“As long as you are in there, could you take your little blow-torch to some of my greed, selfishness, superiority, and guilt?”
He smiled and answered, “Sorry, that’s out of my pay grade.”
Indeed it was, but it’s not out of God’s. He is in the business of changing hearts.
We would be wrong to think this change happens overnight. But we would be equally wrong to assume change never happens at all. It may come in fits and spurts—an “aha” here, a breakthrough there. But it comes. “The grace of God that brings salvation has appeared” (Titus 2:11). The floodgates are open, and the water is out. You just never know when grace will seep in.
Could you use some?
…When grace happens, we receive not a nice compliment from God but a new heart. Give your heart to Christ, and he returns the favor. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you” (Ezek. 36:26)
You might call it a spiritual heart transplant.
So, let’s take a look into the Beasts’ life. He wasn’t always an ugly hairy beast!
- We are told in the opening of the story that he was a young prince who lived in a castle and pretty much had a cushy life and everything he wanted. He was spoiled, selfish, and unkind. Well let’s show some grace and not be too hard on the prince, shall we? As we all have past hurts, scars, character defects, and hang ups. None of us are perfect (Romans 3:10). But don’t get me wrong. I’m not excusing his behavior. The Bible says in Romans 3:23 in the New Living version, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard,” (italicized for emphasis).
Also, Romans 5:8 in the English Standard version says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
- The old beggar woman (Enchantress) seen that there was no love in his heart. Which leads me to my next point. Sin hardens hearts. The Prince felt he was self-sufficient until he was transformed into a beast and couldn’t do anything about it on his own. He needed help from a greater source (not even Belle was enough). Remember it was love that brought Beast back to life and morphed him back into the new improved prince. In turn, Jesus’ love came down for us at the cross.
1 Corinthians 2:14 in the Living Bible says, “But the man who isn’t a Christian can’t understand and can’t accept these thoughts from God, which the Holy Spirit teaches us. They sound foolish to him because only those who have the Holy Spirit within them can understand what the Holy Spirit means. Others just can’t take it in.”
We all don’t know about God until we have a relationship with Him (Jesus).
- The Beast needed to surrender. We all need to humble ourselves. We need to repent of our sins and ask God (Jesus Christ) into our heart. Ask Him to be our Savior and friend.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16 (ESV)
“So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”
– 1 John 4:16 (ESV)
The Beast had lost all hope and had been shunned by society and had forgotten how to love and show his true self. Like the Beast, not everyone is willing to let their guard down, especially when the exposure is unexpected. Let others see the real you; be vulnerable. It wasn’t until Belle showed a genuine kindness that the Beast was able to be more real as his authentic self. The Beast needed Belle to see him for who he truly was and to love him for that. God sees our hearts and loves us for who we are. When Jesus, our only Hope, comes in our lives, we are a new creation! (2 Corinthians 5:17). As a side note, it is important to remember that Gaston had an ugly heart and chose not to change it. He became jealous and actually died like that. The Beast had an ugly heart however, he chose to want to change inside and work on his defects. In the same token, we can do that with Christ’s help. He tells us we are enough! So, to answer the question, can a person’ s heart change? Yes! There is no one that is potentially unchangeable with Christ!