My absolute favorite fairy tale is and always will be Beauty and the Beast. The Disney version that came out in 1991 is still my favorite Disney movie. I love that the Beast had to win Belle’s love by saving her life and being her friend. Eventually, he loved her enough to let her go. It wasn’t until Belle came back and told him how she loved him that the Beast turned into a prince.
One moral that the fairy tale teaches is that love has the power to change people, but only if they are willing to change. God’s love is very similar in that sense that it changes us for the better. His love can’t be earned or bought, but instead is freely given. When we receive God’s love, we become purified. The love we receive is different from the love that we would have for things or for a significant other.
It’s a love that lasts forever.
However, that love won’t change us unless we allow God to change us. One way of allowing that love to change us is to follow the commandment that Jesus gave us:
Love God will all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22: 37-40)
Which is hardest for you? Loving God? Loving your neighbor? Or loving yourself? It seemed easy to love God back when we were children or when we were starting out in our new lives in faith. It’s not easy to love God when bad things happen or when we feel stuck in a rut or when we don’t feel like God’s really there. In spite of how we feel, God has called us to love Him and since He created us, we have a special place in his heart. We belong to Him, so He is always there for us. He is there to provide for us when bad things happen.
He is there for us when we feel stuck in a rut. And even when we don’t feel like He’s there, He is holding us close to his heart.Loving your neighbor isn’t so easy, either. People have a tendency to rub us the wrong way for one reason or another.
Nobody’s perfect, after all. We may disagree on politics or how we see religion or what kind of shows we like to watch. It’s even harder to love our neighbor when they come in the form of total strangers like the homeless people standing in the streets or mugshots of criminals you see on the evening news. As impossible as it sounds, God calls us to love them, too.
I think loving ourselves comes the hardest, though. We don’t want to act like those narcissistic divas who think that they’re all that and a bag of chips, to use an old 90s catchphrase. On the other hand, we don’t want to look at ourselves and see only our flaws because that’s not a healthy way to live. Instead, we need to love ourselves as God loves us.
We are fearfully and wonderfully made, dear sisters in Christ, but we also need to remember to be humble. Look at yourself in the mirror today and thank God for your life, the body that you have, and all the wonderful qualities He gave to you.
Today, live your lives with JOY: Jesus first, others second, and yourself last. If you need some help remembering, there’s this awesome song called Joy from Rend Collective with a wonderful upbeat rhythm that keeps your toes tapping. There’s also a wonderful song from Danielle Rose on the Spotify playlist called “Shine Through Me,” which is a prayer to make JOY a reality for us.
May God’s love help you love and live with JOY, dearest sisters in Christ.