Bedlam Article 5: Don’t Be Afraid of Your Gift

Frozen.

Whoever you are, you probably have strong emotions attached to that title. It may sound a bit like Anna, excitedly and persistently singing, “DO YOU WANT TO BUILD A SNOWMAN?”. Or it may be more like a fed up Elsa, screaming, “LET IT GO!” Personally, I tend to lean more toward the first response. I think Frozen is a great movie, with incredible themes about the power of selfless love (mostly of the unromantic kind), and the importance of being who you are. It also has a pretty great soundtrack. Trust me, when you have two three-year-old nieces who will listen to nothing else, you learn to appreciate it, for your own sanity.

However you feel about this movie, there is one point that I believe needs to be brought up about it. Let’s begin by taking a look at a pivotal moment in this story; a conversation between a wise old troll named Grand Pabbie, and Elsa and Anna’s father, the king of Arendelle.

Grand Pabbie: “Listen to me, Elsa. Your power will only grow. There is beauty in it, but also great danger. You must learn to control it. Fear will be your enemy.”
Yes. Okay. This is good.
The King: “No. We’ll protect her. She can learn to control it, I’m sure…”
Alright. That’s still fine.
The King (continued): ”…but, until then, we’ll lock the gates. We’ll reduce the staff. We will limit her contact with people and keep her powers hidden from everyone, including Anna.”
Wait, what? What just happened here? No, this is not okay.

So, your child has just been told that she must learn to control the beautiful but dangerous power inside her, and that fear is her enemy. She’s pretty freaked out by the whole thing, of course. So, what do you do? You fire all the staff, close all the doors, and keep this child isolated. You teach her to live in fear of her emotions, because if she lets herself feel, God only knows what could possibly happen. The only way to make sure she doesn’t hurt anyone is to keep her alone, right?

But, as we see in the movie, this approach only accomplished one thing: it made Elsa afraid of the gift she had. It made her afraid of other people, who she might hurt if she let herself get close to them. But, worst of all, it made her afraid of herself, because what was inside of her couldn’t be understood or controlled, and was therefore something that was dark and terrible.

It was only through Anna’s unwavering love for her sister that Elsa finally understood how to control her power. Unlike their parents, who isolated and feared Elsa, Anna relentlessly pursued her sister. She continued to choose to love all that her sister was, because she saw the beauty in Elsa’s gift, when all everyone else saw was danger. She didn’t understand what her sister was going through, but she still tried as hard as she could to stay with Elsa and help her see that she didn’t have to fear who she was.

Aside from all the catchy songs and dramatic lines, this story has taught me two things. First is this: if someone is afraid and ashamed of who they are, don’t let them stay there. Choose to be the person who, like Anna, sees the beauty when all others see is a dangerous mess. Choose to stay with them, and show them that who they are is not something to fear and hold down. It is something to value and be proud of. Show them that their story and their scars are worth showing. Show them that, as one of my favorite humans, Melissa Hawks, says, “love redeems story”.

Secondly, that you and I can, and must, choose ourselves. I know that it’s not easy, and there are times when it feels impossible, but it has to be done. If we cannot make the choice to be for ourselves, as Elsa did, we will always see our stories and scars as things that must be hidden away, out of sight. But that is not where our stories belong. They do not belong in the shadows, they belong in the light.

Romans 12:9 says, “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. (NLT)” I think that Frozen gives an incredible illustration of this. Though Elsa’s parents did what they told themselves was the really loving solution, what they were ultimately motivated by was not love. It was fear. It was Anna, who ignored the warnings of the people to stay away from Elsa, because they feared who she was, who was truly acting out of love for her sister. Anna understood what no one else seemed to. In the words of Olaf, the snowman, who is quite possibly the best character in the whole movie: “An act of love will thaw a frozen heart.”

Ultimately, that is what I learned from this movie. That is what I hope that we can put into practice in our own lives. Love thaws, my friends. So let’s really love others. Let’s be there for people, and choose to see the amazing in them. And let’s make the hard, but vital choice to see the amazing in ourselves. Now, who wants to build a snowman?

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