Return to the enchanted castle to experience the marvelous power of transformative love in the exciting conclusion of "Beauty and the Beast!"
Michelle Tumes - Untame Lion
Want to read the de Villeneuve "Beauty and the Beast?"
Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/Lostinthewoods)
The Lost Husbands: Episode 3
“Beauty and the Beast” Part 2: The Wild Beloved
Welcome to Lost in the Woods Fairy Tales ™. I’m your host, Autumn Woods, and I’m so excited you’re here. We’re continuing our two-part arc of “Beauty and the Beast,” and exploring the challenges of fostering love and intimacy in spite of old wounds and safeguards that do more harm than good. Last time, we left our heroine alone in Beast’s castle. Determined to sacrifice her life to save her father, Beauty has no idea that the two people who are really being rescued are Beast and herself. But I don’t want to give too much away.
So, let’s get lost, as we read the conclusion of (Beauty and the Beast).
Well, there it is. No Gaston, no angry villagers. No Avenant. The biggest villain in the piece is also its greatest hero: the human heart. Don’t wander away from the campfire. We’re about to shed some light on the incredible treasure hidden in the conclusion of this story.
Despite the vision of the fairy, Beauty is still convinced that she only has a few hours left to live and refuses to spend them in misery. Instead, she explores the castle. Soon, she comes upon a door with her name on it. Inside, she finds a lovely apartment filled with books, a harpsicord, and sheet music. At last, with a bit of humor, she realizes that she is not meant to die here, but live. Who would go through the trouble of providing her with her own room and endless entertainment if she was only meant to be here for a few hours?
Accepting the signs and feeling a bit more relaxed, she does the most natural thing she can do: pick up a book. Its spine assures her that she is the mistress here, and that whatever she asks will be given to her. Why is she learning the “Lost Woman” lesson? Well, she needs it! She’s become so advanced in many other spiritual aspects, that she has begun to neglect core pieces of her own identity. Her case is different than Cinderella’s and that of most other Lost Women because she has grown up with a loving father. Beauty’s trouble is not the inability to see herself as a capable daughter, but the inability to allow herself to be loved and cherished as the Wild Beloved. Notice that she has placed her devotion to her father between herself and any man who proposes marriage to her. To be fair, none of them was her destined husband, but that does not change the fact that she has become an expert at deflecting romantic love with the shield of duty and work. You’ll recall from what I shared last episode that this has been one of my greatest struggles as well. It’s too easy to write it off as a Mary/Martha thing and move on and isn’t fair to do so. You can’t just scold Martha for her concerns and the bitterness rising up in her. Berating her won’t change anything. The only way to help someone who has closed themself off to the romance of God’s love is to saturate them with it. One of the ways God will do that is through the wilderness experience. He will strip you of your false comforts and substitutions until you cannot help but run to Him as your true source of life. “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her,” He says in Hosea 2:14. When everything you would normally run to or hide behind has been put away, you are fully exposed to God’s love in all of its raw ferocity, persistence, and gentleness. The household bondwoman is then challenged to allow this love to transform her into the Wild Beloved, the self she has kept hidden out of fear.
Why is it so important that Beauty undergoes this transformation? Isn’t the goal in the story to transform the Beast? Well, yes, it is. But if she does not accept liberation for herself, she can never hope to set Beast free from his imprisonment. If we do not allow God’s love to transform us, we cannot effectively lead others to Him. It is difficult to help someone walk in a freedom that you’ve never known yourself. Until Beauty learns that she is worthy of deep, romantic love, she cannot give it in return. This is why she must be separated from her family and made mistress of her own home. Unable to bury her heart in work and filial duty, she is confronted with the reality of her untended desires and dreams. She needs the Beast to help her get in touch with her wildness as badly as needs her to help restore his humanity.
Beast’s wilderness experience is even more restrictive than Beauty’s. Because he is forbidden to reveal the truth of his circumstances or the slightest hint of wit and intelligence, his good heart and kind, genuine nature are on full display. Stripped of the ability to impress his future bride, he battles both their insecurities with the power of his vulnerability. He offers himself just as he is, his best and his worst, and hopes that this will be enough. He does everything possible to show her his goodness and affection, from providing her with a library and music to allowing her to see the truth of her family’s circumstances. While her heart is not easily won, each sign of Beast’s good will toward her eases Beauty’s mind about him. She begins to learn that she has nothing to fear from him because he only means her well.
God woos us in very similar ways. He tailors the gifts and experiences He shares with each person to suit the uniqueness of their nature and relationship to Him, almost like sweet inside jokes. Have you ever been dealing with a problem that you haven’t really shared with anyone, and it seems like everything around you is being used to bring you comfort and assurance? Did all the songs you heard that day fit your situation? Did a friend or stranger compliment you about the very thing you’ve been stressing over? Did you get verbal confirmation to a question that you didn’t even ask? Were you blessed with a need or want provided seemingly out of the blue? These are just a fraction of the things God will do to remind us that He knows the desires of our hearts and is Jehovah Jireh, our provider. He is El Roi, the God who sees me. And He wants us to come to Him first with our troubles and recognize Him as our true source and best love. By giving Him that place in our hearts, we free the Holy Spirit to guide us into a life where He will do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to [His] power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
Beauty does not yet know the true reason she is being romanced, but she is better prepared to meet Beast now that she has a clearer idea of his character. She cannot help her visceral physical reaction when he approaches her at dinner, but her spirit is able to cling to the knowledge that deep down, he is good. In their first moments of conversation, Beast asks Beauty for her willing company and honesty. He will not pester her if she doesn’t want to see him, and he will not allow false politeness to create a barrier between them. He declares that it is Beauty and not he who is master because she holds the upper hand in the relationship: only her love can restore him. If she rejects him, the relationship will go no further, and both will be cheated of the fulness of love that would have develop between them. The same is true with salvation. God is a gentleman. He has never desired a relationship with us devoid of our free will. He graciously presents us with the choice of life or death, blessings or cursing, and while He will gently urge us to choose life, He respects our decision to reject Him and the freedom He offers, though it breaks His heart to hear our refusal (Deuteronomy 30:19). When we reject God, we deny Him and ourselves the joy He means to share with us in intimate relationship and love.
God’s hope is that we will choose to get to know Him, and that in knowing Him, we will come to love Him and accept His love for us. He is powerful and vengeful, but also compassionate and tender. The Great I AM is whatever He needs to be at any given moment. There are endless facets of His character to explore and adore if we will take the time to do so. We should never lose our awe of Him, but He longs to be known for all that He is, to be our God and we His people (Jeremiah 31:33-34). The more time Beauty spends conversing with the Beast, the less monstrous he seems to her. She begins to understand that he is wise as well as kind and sincere. Trust is beginning to build between them.
If we were the best friend in this scenario, we would be elbowing Beauty and telling her how many boxes Beast is checking off of her secret “qualities I look for in a man” list. But that’s just it, isn’t it? Romantic love in all its forms seems dangerous and beastly to the young woman. She is very comfortable sitting at the table and talking with the Beast, until he proposes to her. Unaccustomed to this kind of raw passion, even restrained, Beauty becomes fearful and flustered. She blames it on Beast’s appearance, but we know better. She has never permitted herself to be imagined—even in her own mind—as a lover. The Beast is asking her to live out things she has never dared to dream with a mysterious stranger she barely knows who feels deeply for her beyond his own needs and suffering. If you were in this situation with a man you’d just met, your shock at this offer would be understandable. But it’s enough to make you weep thinking about God speaking to you from this position, and rejecting Him because you are too afraid of what will happen if you tell Him “yes.”
Whether we realize it or not, our hearts are crafted with a longing for love’s transformational power in order to draw us back to God, whose love revolutionizes our lives once we give Him the freedom to run wild in our hearts. But if we don’t authorize it, He won’t force His way in. He’ll back off and wait for a better opportunity to press His suit. Although the Beast despairs at Beauty’s rebuff, he, too, graciously takes his leave of her, knowing that he will have other opportunities to ask her again after they get to know each other better.
Lest we idealize Beast too much, let’s examine the reality of the state he’s in. When we first meet him, he behaves like a villainous fairy tale monster, stalking through the garden and threatening death. We don’t know how long he’s been enchanted, but it’s been long enough that his insides have begun to match his outsides. In conversation with Beauty’s father, he is blunt and imperious. We get the idea that he hasn’t seen a living soul in quite some time because his rose garden has become his greatest love. His generosity seeps through the cracks of his demands, but he continues to be cold until Beauty is alone with him in the castle. Her influence changes his manner of speaking. He never pretends to be lord and master at any time, but he does not truly give up his sense of command until the first full conversation he has with Beauty. From then on, he’s a sweetheart.
This is very different than the Disney version of the Beast that many of us were raised on. He has not been enchanted due to his pride or cruelty, but has learned to acquire these things as defense mechanisms in his lonely prison. Although we are told of the wicked fairy in this version, a visit to the de Villeneuve text reveals that the prince is cursed to be a Beast as a result of his refusal to have an improper relationship with the wicked fairy. He rebuffs her because of her hideous character, but his mother, the queen, rejects the relationship based on the fairy’s hideous looks. As a double whammy, the evil fairy turns the prince into a Beast to punish his mother for valuing physical beauty and the prince for valuing integrity over illicit passion. This of course is very selfish. The prince has a right to comport himself righteously and the free will to decide for himself to whom he will pledge his love. In her spitefulness, the fairy has turned him into a mockery of his virtues. To the world, he will appear to be an insatiable monster, driven by animal instinct with no regard for integrity or the needs of others. Of course, we know that he is still kind and good inside, but the longer he spends trapped in his beastly form, with no one to remind him who he really is, the more his true, complex character begins to shrink back to make room for the snarling animal.
Unfortunately, the lesson has been taught to many of us that all men are this way. It causes fear and shame and damage on both sides because we believe the lie that wild men need to be civilized by women. It simply isn’t true. Both men and women have a wildness about them because our Heavenly Father is wild Himself. We are not meant to tame the wildness of men, but to bravely love them with such ferocity that we are all free to use our wildness for good. That is the way God loves both His sons and daughters. Perfect love casts out fear because it fills our hearts with courage; the courage to live an abundant life beyond the limitations of our wounds.
You can easily argue that both Beauty and the Beast have been wounded in the areas of passion and intimacy. One isn’t sure they should be allowed at all. The other is worried that the right time for them may never come. These are places where Satan likes to wreak havoc because of what passion and intimacy represent from a godly perspective. God built them into marriage to give us a taste of the depth of communion He longs to have with us. We are meant to have a covenant relationship with Him through Jesus, something we hold sacred, forsaking all others to be with Him. When we participate in these gifts with our spouses, we are reflecting the unhindered passion, intimacy, and trust that God invites us to experience with Him. When we are wounded and ashamed, we have a tendency to hide from this deep communion because we feel like we don’t deserve it or can’t handle it. But our God, who loves us with an everlasting love, will give us every possible opportunity to lay down our fig leaves and renew our emotional connection with him. As His image bearers, we should extend our spouses the same courtesy. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
In a marriage, or an impending one, redemption of trust begins with intentionally spending time together. For three months, Beauty and the Beast meet for dinner at nine o’clock in the evening and entertain each other with “plain talk.” During this time, they are getting to know each other better, building emotional connection and trust as they share themselves with each other. Remember that from a Biblical standpoint, having a meal represents communion of some sort, ingesting your daily bread to give you sustenance and preparation for your day and the challenges ahead. When you do it with someone else, it represents a mutual covenant of peace and goodwill between you. The believers in Acts shared meals together as they fellowshipped and dove deeper into God’s teachings and His heart for them as His people. Notice that the dinners in our story take place at nine o’clock at night. Nine is the number of the fruits of the Spirit and harvest (Galatians 5:22-23). The more time the couple spends together in honest communication, the more their relationship reaps the benefits of intimacy. Beauty begins to forget the Beast’s ugliness because she is falling deeply in love with his heart. She looks forward to seeing him every day, as he does her. He has become her source of joy and companionship. Beast, in turn, is regaining what he had begun to lose of his identity, because he is actively looking beyond his own needs to be attentive to Beauty. They are beginning to live out the structure of marriage as described in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 and 5, mutually submitting to each other out of love.
But there’s still a problem. Because of her heart wounds, Beauty can’t see herself as the romantic leading lady. Every day they’re drawing closer together and Beast is encouraged enough to propose to her only to be shot down. She doesn’t like to cause him grief, and finally explains one day that she would like to be able to marry him, but she is too honest to let him believe it could ever happen. She says she just wants to be friends and that that should be enough. This is like telling your spouse that you’re just fine being roommates. “We can sit on the couch and cuddle, but that’s it! I’m turning out the lights and pouring my heart out on social media instead of entrusting it to you. There are some things I just can’t share.” Really, that can apply to our relationships with God as well, and it’s sad. Please don’t misunderstand me. No means no, and no woman should feel obligated to be with someone just because he’s a good, available guy. I’m looking at this from the third-person omniscient narrator perspective, knowing that these two people are meant to be together and analyzing the things that gum up the works.
Did you notice that Beauty doesn’t say that she could never marry Beast because he is too ugly? He makes that assumption himself, but she never affirms it. She even admits that she loves him as their conversation continues. The real reason that she can’t marry him—which she won’t share because she can’t put the words to it herself—is that she has not mentally divorced herself from her former role as the unappreciated family caretaker. Beast is offering her a life of mutual love and companionship where she is cherished and cared for like a princess. All she needs to do is ask and it will be given to her. Beauty’s deepening love for Beast and dutiful love for her family are pulling her in opposite directions. Could she be more than a nurse and housekeeper and an ever-merciful sister? She can and she is. But she still doesn’t know it with every fiber of her being. She’s been presented with more than anyone has ever offered her in her life, and she’s running scared. And what do we often do when we’re running scared and our partner doesn’t seem to understand us? We go home. We run to something familiar that we already know how to cope with that isn’t as frightening or exciting as the great unknown.
It’s not just a girl thing, either. Men do it too. When Jesus asks people to come follow Him and live in the freedom He offers us as royal heirs to God’s kingdom, we have all kinds of excuses for not saying yes and for keeping Him out of our business. What if it’s too big a commitment? What if we lose who we are and everything we know and become this horrible, boring robot person? What if there’s no fun and joy and only loss and agony? Who will we lose on the way? “Lord, let me first go and bury my [father’s bones]” because he’s been dead for a year and tradition dictates that that’s how I should show him respect. And you know what He says? “Let the dead bury the dead… I have come that [you] may have life, and that [you] may have it more abundantly” (Luke 9:60; John 10:10). But again, the choice is up to us, and sometimes we need a taste of the life we once had to see how stale it is compared to the wild one we’re being offered.
Beauty gets this after offering her poor explanation for why she will not marry Beast. Although he is disheartened, he is brave enough to tell her that he loves her very much, and asks that she promise to never leave him. She gladly promises to stay with him forever, but requests that Beast allow her to go home and see her father first. Beast has shown her through magical means how her family has grown and changed in her absence. Her brothers have joined the army, her sisters have married their suitors, and her father has withdrawn into himself as he mourns the loss of Beauty. Alarmed when she says that she will die of grief over the longing to see her father if she cannot go, Beast declares that he “would rather die [himself] than cause [her] pain.” He will let her go, but knows that he will die of sorrow if she never returns. Beauty tells him that she “[loves] him too much to be the cause of [his] death,” promising to stay only a week and then return. Beast agrees, telling her that she will be in her old home in the morning. When she is ready to return, she must take off her ring, put it on her table before going to sleep, and she will be with him once more.
Both of them are sad and dejected as they go to their chambers that night, but, true to his word, Beast sends her back to her father’s house in the morning. Beauty’s sadness should clue her in to the change in her priorities, but she’ll need to see it for herself through the dynamics of her trip back home. When she arrives, she rings the bell by her bed, startling the servant and sending her father dashing into the room to embrace his daughter. After the initial excitement wears off, Beauty realizes that she has nothing to wear, and is pleasantly surprised when, in true Christ-like fashion, Beast instantly sends a trunk to the room next door stuffed with more dresses than she could possibly use for her visit, dripping with gold and diamonds. So as not to embarrass herself, Beauty selects the least flashy dress and instructs the servant to lock up the others so that she may give them as presents to her sisters. As soon as she gives that naïve command, the chest full of dresses disappears. Wisely, Beauty’s father tells her that the Beast means for her to keep all of the gowns for herself. At this realization, the chest reappears.
This is further proof that Beauty, like the Beloved in Song of Solomon, is still learning to accept her worth and value. These gifts are specially intended as tokens of love and affection from Beast to Beauty. In sending them to her, he declares that it does not matter where she goes or who she is with, she is a royal princess in his eyes and the love of his life. “Like a lily among thorns, so is [his] love among the daughters” (Song of Solomon 2:2). Yes, we are blessed to be a blessing and it is good to share what we have with others, but there is such a thing as casting pearls before swine. If you have been given beautiful revelations of God and your relationship with Him, one of the worst things you could possibly do is rush off to present them to people who will devalue them and mock your joy.
Right on cue, her sisters barge into the house with their obnoxious husbands in tow. Dismayed at Beauty’s loveliness and finery, they are spitefully jealous that she is happier with her mysterious Beast than they are being married to Narcissus and the Riddler. They dodge their sister’s efforts to show them affection and escape to the garden where they burst into tears over what they believe to be a cruel twist of fate. Immediately, they hatch a scheme to make Beauty’s life miserable. They agree to pretend to love her so that she will stay longer and break her promise to the Beast, whom they believe will devour her for her faithlessness. The whole thing is wicked and ridiculous. They have no understanding of Beast’s true nature, assuming that he is even more terrible than the men they’ve married. It is this same foolishness that encourages people to sneer at God and plot against those who love Him. Because they do not know God, they do not think of Him having an even deeper complexity of feeling than the people He made. They do not realize that the ones who have deep communion with Him are pricked when we realize we have caused Him pain and seek to make it right.
On the tenth night of her visit, the number of testing, Beauty dreams of Beast lying in the garden near the point of death, reproaching her for her ingratitude and her absence. Instantly, she wakes up and takes stock of what is going on in her heart. Clearly, her family does not need her here anymore. Her sisters are false and cruel. Her desire for their affection has blinded her to their wickedness. Even her father, the one she longed to see the most, recognizes that she is no longer a dutiful child, but a virtuous woman who needs more out of life than continuously pouring herself out for others with no refreshing for herself. She has kept the vineyards of others, but her own vineyard she has not kept (Song of Solomon 1:6). The one who wants to help her do that is different than what most people would call ideal. He is wild and strange; there are things about him that she does not understand. But his kindness, goodness, gentleness, and all of the fruits of the Spirit that he exhibits are enough to triumph over her fears. Beauty realizes that she will be happier with him in their beautiful wildness than her sisters are in their gilded cages. She knows there will be things to overcome, but trusts that after this leap of faith, they will happily do so together.
Doesn’t this sound like the cycle our hearts go through before we decide to give our lives to Jesus? There is much we don’t understand, and we know that there will be things we must learn on the way, but what we do know about Him is enough to awaken the longing for eternity and passion and adventure in our hearts. One of my favorite Michelle Tumes songs, captures this crucial moment of the heart perfectly:
“I love an untame lion
He's calling me to come
My cold heart, how it hesitates
I want to turn and run
His power is dangerous
His power is endless love
I love an untame lion
He's broken every chain
And freedom how can I resist
His voice sings out my name”
(Michelle Tumes, “Untame Lion”).
At last, Beauty answers the call. Hurriedly, she scribbles a note to her father explaining where she’s gone, puts her ring on the table, and closes her eyes to sleep. Why is it that she must put the ring on the table? Why does the magic not dictate that she put it on her finger to return? Remember that rings are a symbol of authority. In the ancient world, the stamp of a signet ring was the equivalent of your signature. When given to an heir, it entitled them to all possessions and rights that came with the family name. When we exchange rings at a wedding, we are not only promising to uphold the covenant we are entering; we are giving our spouses authority over us and all that we bring into the union (1 Corinthians 7:4). The Beast has not ceased to do this for Beauty. Now, she chooses to do the same for him. In laying the ring on the table, she declares, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song of Solomon 2:16).
In the morning, she awakens to find herself back in her castle apartment. Joyfully, she leaps out of bed and adorns herself majestically to meet Beast. Like Cinderella and Thousandfurs, she revels in the inner transformations taking place in her heart so strongly that they are manifested outwardly with a change of attire. Unfortunately, she has not yet learned to pursue her heart’s desire once it has made itself known. Innocently, she waits in restless boredom for 9 o’clock, thinking that Beast will appear then as he always has. When he does not, she finally tears through the castle searching for him and calling his name. In despair, she remembers her dream and dashes to the garden, where she finds the one whom her heart loves lying as still as death. Flinging herself on his chest, all thoughts of fear and revulsion gone, she rejoices to hear his heart beating, and splashes him with water from the canal to revive him. When he opens his eyes, he admits that he had resolved to starve to death because he thought he had lost her, but now he will die happily because he gets to see her one last time.
I know this looks like codependent manipulation, but put away your cynic hat for a moment. This is the woman he loves more than anything in the world. The one who proved before they even met that her love could overcome anything if she would only give it. She is a virtuous woman rarer than rubies (Proverbs 31:10). If she did not return to him, how long would he have to wait before another rarity came to his door? And even if one did, would he hope to win her? No. He would still be mourning the loss of Beauty. He loves her not only for what she can do, but for who she is. And that is what she has needed this entire time. He has rescued her. Now she will rescue him. He will not die but live as her husband. She will belong to him and he to her for the rest of their lives.
When Beauty makes this promise, Beast’s entire domain rejoices at her words. The castle is illuminated with fireworks and music swells as its former prisoner is restored to his rightful glory. Beauty is shocked to see him and frantically asks what has become of Beast. Like Mary Magdalene before the risen Jesus, she despairs at the empty tomb and cannot see that this familiar stranger before her, “more beautiful than the day was bright,” is the one she is looking for. Tenderly, he explains to her the origin and terms of his enchantment and cannot express his gratitude enough for her kindness at seeing the good man behind the monster. Ecstatically, Beauty offers her hand to the prince and the return to the castle, where they meet Beauty’s family and the good fairy in the great hall. The good fairy beckons Beauty to “come and receive the reward for [her] wise choice.” Because she has chosen the hard road of valor and bravery, she is rewarded with a husband who is everything she could hope for and more. She is made queen over a new kingdom she has never seen, with the prince as her faithful king. And her sisters are punished for their maliciousness by being turned into statues and posted outside the palace door, so that they may witness Beauty’s happiness and mourn what their wickedness has cost them. Everyone is whisked off to the prince’s kingdom, where a grand reception waits for the couple and cheers their arrival. The prince and Beauty are married, and live happily together because of their courage, their willingness to fight for each other, and the wild, steadfast love that their trials have cultivated between them.
This entire final sequence is so Biblical my mind almost races too fast to explore each facet, but I’ll do my best. When our king, Jesus, returns for His bride in all of His glory, we will be taken to heaven to be with Him. Once there, we are given the rewards for what we have done with the time given to us, and we lay our crowns at His feet. We are made kings and queens over this and other beautiful realms we have not yet seen and greeted by a cloud of witnesses who have been waiting for our return and rejoice at our coming. We are joined with Jesus through the marriage supper of the Lamb, and reign with our eternal king forever. But outside the palace, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. Like Beauty’s sisters, those who would not take the narrow road and lose their lives to find them in Christ will be doomed to a dark existence without the joy we will experience with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and all the saints.
We who reign with Christ will experience miraculous restoration even more powerful than the transformations we’ve seen in Beauty and the Beast. In the meantime, don’t stop chasing it. Jesus died to give you ultimate freedom. It’s right there in His hands. We just have to be brave enough to let God’s untamed, perfect love crowd out our fear and transform us into the ones He always knew we would be. We have each been given a unique skillset by God to reach the people in our immediate spheres and beyond. It is woven into the foundation of the woman God calls you to be. Sharpen your sword, ezer kenegdo, and use the tools you have to set captives free and speak God’s kingdom into this earth.
Thanks for stopping by. Be sure to subscribe so you never miss an episode and rate the show on your favorite podcast platform. If you’d like to see what else is going on in the fairy tale forest or support the show, check out the Lost in the Woods Buy Me A Coffee Page. I’m Autumn Woods and I can’t wait to see you on the path next time you get Lost in the Woods.