“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be we are.”
*Caution: potential spoilers for Beauty and the Beast ahead.
A few days ago, I sat in a movie theater and cried for two hours straight as I watched the beautiful live action remake of one of my childhood favorites.
I absolutely loved Beauty and the Beast. I loved the music. I loved the costumes. I loved the cast. I loved how it managed to stay true to the heart of the original while going much deeper into the story and characters. (Also, it was 100% worth seeing just to hear Dan Stevens’ gorgeous voice, but that’s another story.)
The day after I saw the movie, I ran across a profound review by a Christian mom who took two of her children to see it and challenged them to “watch it with God in mind”. As soon as I finished reading the post, I immediately started thinking of where I saw God in the film. One quote stood out.
“I am not a beast.”
This moment comes before the curse is broken, when the Beast has the chance to kill Gaston but chooses to let him go instead.
Thinking back on this, I realized something. The Beast does not become a “beast” when the enchantress casts the spell, and he does not stop being one when the spell is broken.
He changes when Belle teaches him to embrace the humanity that was already inside him. I would say that the change really takes hold as soon as he lets her go.
I always thought of Beauty and the Beast as a romance between a beautiful young woman and a prince turned into a monster, but I don’t really think that’s what it’s about.
I think it’s really about the good and the evil, the beauty and the beast, inside each of us. I think it’s about seeing and embracing the beauty in ourselves and others and allowing the good within us to overcome the evil. This struggle within each of us is truly a “tale as old as time.”
In 2 Nephi 2:11 we read, “For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”
Opposition has been part of the plan since the beginning. Ever since Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, everyone who comes to earth has to engage in their own personal battle between good and evil.
We are all like the rose that is central to Beauty and the Beast. We are flowers with thorns. No one is perfectly good, and no one is all bad. As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “In our own hands lies the power to choose.”
That’s something I want to try to remember, especially when I’m tempted to judge others. We are all fighting our own battles, and it is never too late for us to choose to let the atonement into our lives and let good triumph in our lives.