I fell in love with a movie once. Actually twice. Two movies, same story. I watched them over and over and over. There was a power in the theme that stirs my heart like no other.
The first was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. I confess I was well into my 20’s when I came upon this version of the tale as old as time. This was not just a good story. It was a Grand Story. It echoed The Story. I was swept up in it. Captivated beyond my ability to offer reasonable explanation.
Here’s what it came down to:
A beast. The tainted.
A young maiden. The undaunted.
A bitter angry heart learned to trust and receive love. Then it surrendered to that love by offering freedom at a high price. And wonder of wonders, she saw something revealed deep within him that was of value in spite of the hideous mess that he made of himself. And the beast found redemption. He was released back into the wholeness he was created for. Freedom.
That’s not the only story to resonate through the very core of me.
Produced by Feature Films for Family, Rigoletto captivated my heart even more profoundly. An elfin prince is cursed, and his face and heart are scarred by the ugliness. He came to our mortal world to find the love that can break the curse. A young girl was drawn into his life and refused to be intimidated by his temper and gruff demeanor. She saw something more to him. She heard it revealed in his song. And she, in her innocent pursuit of that goodness, opened the door for him to step into redemption. He in turn released her into her purpose at great cost to himself. In the end, freedom was realized by the children who chose to love the beast as they began to see more clearly the fullness of the fairy tale they had just lived.
Again. The tainted. The undaunted. The revealing. The redemption. The release. Freedom.
What causes stories like this to be told over and over? The truth to this is found where Paul proclaims that our hearts know God without being taught. He has placed within us an imprint of his love, and when we hear a story that resonates, our hearts glow warm and true with these things that we understand to be true.
We know this is how we want to be loved.
We know what it is to be tainted.
We know we long for the undaunted to pursue us despite our mess.
We know in our depth that something of value is waiting to be revealed, but oh, how we struggle with fear, anger and bitterness.
We breathlessly hope for redemption.
We dream of that release into fullness, into freedom.
And we hit rewind, and watch it all over again, because we know.
And when Christ comes along, and we hear an honest presentation of His story, it is familiar to us and we are more willing to accept.
God tells his grand story over and over in the complex work of truth that somehow continued the same theme over the thousands of years of its writing. Just look at this part in Ezekiel. You can often find me pausing at chapter 16, hitting rewind and savoring every word of the first fourteen verses. Every word. All the elements are there:
'This is what the Sovereign LORD says to Jerusalem: Your ancestry and birth were in the land of the Canaanites; your father was an Amorite and your mother a Hittite. On the day you were born your cord was not cut, nor were you washed with water to make you clean, nor were you rubbed with salt or wrapped in cloths. No one looked on you with pity or had compassion enough to do any of these things for you. Rather, you were thrown out into the open field, for on the day you were born you were despised.
'Then I passed by and saw you kicking about in your blood, and as you lay there in your blood I said to you, "Live!"
I made you grow like a plant of the field. You grew up and developed and became the most beautiful of jewels. Your breasts were formed and your hair grew, you who were naked and bare.
" 'Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love, I spread the corner of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.
So you were adorned with gold and silver; your clothes were of fine linen and costly fabric and embroidered cloth. Your food was fine flour, honey and olive oil. You became very beautiful and rose to be a queen. And your fame spread among the nations on account of your beauty, because the splendor I had given you made your beauty perfect, declares the Sovereign LORD.
Oh sweet freedom.
My heart was created for this story. I am the tainted. I am pursued by an undaunted lover. He tenderly reveals his thoughts towards me. He saw me abandoned and had compassion on me. He did for my soul, what should have been done for me, but was not. He called me forth into a redeemed life. He is awakening within me beauty. He is slowly releasing me from fear, from shame. He is releasing me into who I was created to be without all the masks and walls. I am taking tentative steps into freedom, strength building in my legs.
I, the tainted, am part of something big, something Grand.
I, the tainted, am part of a Grand Story. The Story. And you are too!
I wonder if there is a grand story that speaks to you in inexplicable ways. For me, it’s all forms of Beauty and the Beast. Also, Hugo, as odd as that might be. What stories captivate and sing to your heart? I'd love if you share it in a comment below!
I'm linking up at Nacole's site today for Concrete Words. The prompt is The Tainted. The guest writer is the lovely Ruth Povey whose words I drink in as religiously as iced coffee! Hope you join us!