Day 34: Our Song
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.--Ezekial 36:26
I feel that I must address and engage with one of the most influential songs of recent history but this one is way more difficult than it may seem. Who knew a Disney tune would be the toughest dragon to slay? I best leave this one to the professionals. So without further adieu, a guest post from my dear friend, Jerry Fourroux. You can track with his work as pastor at Lycoming Center Presbyterian Church in Williamsport, PA at lycomingcenter.org…enjoy!
Jesus does not want you to be alone. And yet here we are. How did we get this lonely as individuals; as a culture? Well, in a phrase we ‘let it go.’ We have done what we wanted, what our hearts have desired at the moment without a second thought. The “you-do-you” ethic of our world leads to the very isolation that we despise. Jesus hates it even more. Fulfilling all our desires and “keeping it real”, we soon realize that we have been solid gold trunk of lies. It looks glorious, even feels glorious, but empty when the trunk is open.
“Let It Go” was a massive phenomenon a few years ago. Parents of young girls hear this song through toddler screams and screeches even to this day. But queue it up at any birthday party or wedding and you will hear a crowd-wide karaoke number. People love the song, and imply the “you-do-you” message from our culture into the song. They see it as a triumphal song. However, the story tells us something much different.
The song, “Let It Go,” is sung when the major conflict of the story goes global, and the main characters enter the “abyss-stage of a good story” where the world gets darker and more hopeless. When Elsa sings, “Let It Go”, it unleashes what Anna, her sister calls, an “eternal winter”. In the story of Frozen, the ‘you-do-you’ or ‘true to yourself” ethic is seen as dark loneliness with cosmic implications. Immediately, when I saw the movie, I saw this reality. I had already known of the song, but here in the story: I saw myself.
Sometimes, my sin is so large and so hungry that I think to myself, “I will just remove myself from anyone who would be hurt by my sin, and then, and only then will I enjoy my sin”. This lie pushes me to the edge of temptation and doubt. Ultimately, It makes me want to hid. That is exactly where Elsa is on that mountain.
The scene begins with Elsa alone and minor chords instrumental with the words:
The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the queen
She has let her “secret” power out through anger. Her freezing power is now known, so now in this “kingdom of isolation” she can let it all go, all the control, all worry. “Let the storm rage” because “the cold never bothered me anyway”. Little does she know, that there is an ‘eternal winter’ set off by this. All increasing to the “no right, no wrong, no rules for me, I am free”.
Elsa sings the song thinking she is free, but in fact she is alone sheltered from human contact and oblivious to the eternal winter she has inaugurated. She is living in the loneliness of the “you-do-you” ethic. Being true to herself, has isolated her.
But Love refused to let her stay alone. Here, Love is a person, in the form of her sister, Anna. Anna brings the news of the devastation. The devastation caused by her lack of control. Elsa cannot hear it and, when she will not be comforted, she lashes out to Anna. Anna can only survive by “an act of true love”. As an avid consumer of Disney movies, I know that some love interest Hans or Kristoff is the true love. Here in Frozen, however, the act of true love is Anna sacrificing herself to save Elsa. Love saves Anna, Love saves Arendelle, and ultimately Love heals Elsa. She is restored to community using her powers for the community.
When Love has made the curse a blessing, Elsa recapitulates the opening scene of her making it snow. She is a child again! Just to make sure the viewer understands, the music plays the theme to the First Time in Forever. At the very end, Anna says to Elsa, “I like the open gates.” Elsa responds, “We are never closing them again.” An act of true love has made a freezing loneliness into warm hospitality.
Jesus is our Anna. Our power can be selfish and destructive ultimately leading us to isolation and loneliness. But Jesus comes to us to tell us the truth about ourselves. We have turned our own way. The ‘punishment that brought us peace was upon him”, and he brings us as lost sheep from the wilderness of despair and loneliness into the community of faith, the Bride of Christ.
Do you know this love? Are you thirsty to know it more? Do you long to have this love change you? Jesus will do this. Once, I was trapped by my sin and loneliness. But Jesus brought me into the light. He called me into ministry, where I see my past is used to encourage others with the Gospel. I remember thinking that I cannot be a minister in my life, when a dear friend lovingly rebuked me. He said, “it seems that you want to stop sinning more than loving Jesus.” I was like Elsa after hearing of love thawing a frozen heart. It was all about loving him, because he loved me. Those few words changed my life and ministry. I am forever humbled by my sin. I can sympathize with those I love and serve because the darkest parts of their hearts have a corresponding frozen part in my heart. When I look back on my journey, I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness and love that I do not deserve. My whole life is grace, and the rest of my life a thank offering. I am reborn defiant of my past trusting Christ as my future while delighting in the present.
Now, you can return to a childlike astonishment and wonder as well. You will find this warmth to be better than the bitter cold of loneliness. You, in full toddler scream and screech, now can sing “I’m never going back, the past is in the past”. You can let go of the guilt, let go of the isolation, letting go of the fear, and let go of trying to live up to false standards. And the story, that great story of Jesus and his love, reinterprets “Let It Go”. You can cast aside “being true to yourself” because Jesus has been true to you. “It’s Love”. His love for you, saving you and healing you.
I confess that I have both dreams of my unlimited sin not hurting others and dreams of my rigorous obedience. I forsake all of those frozen dreams and trust the reality of Jesus and his love. Amen.