We watched Disney’s “Frozen” as a family one day before Thanksgiving, and just three days after, I gave birth to our fourth child. We almost had the theater to ourselves, which was lovely since we have four children (six and under) with varying degrees of noisy reactions to the movie. All of us, even our two year old, thoroughly enjoyed the fun night out. But my heart was especially stirred during the song, “Let It Go,” sung by Queen Elsa as she escapes to her mountain retreat to finally embrace her icy magical side. Since then, I have noticed that many other people had a similarly strong reaction to that song.
So, why do we love the song, “Let It Go”? Because we have all been shamed into secrecy by the bully of Fear. Poor Elsa’s well-meaning (but ill-fated) parents gave her the worst advice by telling her to “conceal don’t feel; be the good girl you always have to be.” Not only is it impossible not to feel, but it’s impossible to always be a good girl. Not one of us is all good all the time and secrecy seals our lips and our fate to hide from the world. Sin and shame love darkness, but the light brings healing and freedom.
Christians make the same mistake if we try to get others to stuff unruly feelings rather than bring them into the light of God’s love. We tend to classify feelings as good (joy, gratitude) and bad (anger, frustration), but these labels are not helpful. We all experience a wide spectrum of emotions arising from the circumstances of our life. The goal is not to become a frozen Christian who never feels anything negative, or we would all need to become monks in isolation. Rather, we should feel what we feel and bring our emotions into the presence of Christ to find help in our time of need. There is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. (1 John 4:18) God is more than big enough to handle our emotions; He created us to experience them.
Each of us has also had the desire to flee from life when our emotions escape and everything hits the fan. But as Elsa discovered, it doesn’t work. We leave behind a wake of consequences (in her case, an eternal winter) that ultimately follows us and finds us in our remote kingdom of Self.
I’m not suggesting we let all of our emotions out into the public sphere, but I am suggesting we process them in the presence of Christ. We should take time to be with what is true in our hearts in honest prayer. I am suggesting that we cast off fear because we might need others to help us sort out the mess. And that’s when we find, as Elsa did, that love is so much more powerful than fear to transform the world around us.
Image: © 2013 Disney