It is rare for me to comment on something I’ve not read or seen firsthand, but occasionally I am guilty of the practice. The last time I did this was before seeing To The Wonder, the much anticipated and often maligned film by Terrence Malick, a favorite director of mine. I told myself I would refrain from doing this again, at least for a while.
That while is over. It ended with Brandi Midkiff’s post on the Disney movie Frozen. I will now make a point of seeing this film as it seems to be a love story of sorts and one that carries a message worth hearing. I’m not a love story kind of guy and having no young children, I have to admit I’m not really a Disney kind of guy either, but Ms. Midkiff presents Frozen in a way that it is not an ordinary kind of love story, but one about giving up control, casting out fear, and affirming grace in spite of the law.
As for the movie itself, I will say little more. Having not seen it I really could not anyway. What I really want to do is get back to what I heard in Midkiff’s post….a message we are handed in life whether we watch Disney films or not.
We are vulnerable and even worse, we are cowards. We are hardwired to love and that makes us vulnerable to it, yet we often lack the courage to either give or receive it. Everything about us makes us ripe for familial relationship, community, and friendship and yet we fear these things.
Fortunately we can avoid these. We do possess a freedom that gives us the ability to utter a timid no rather than an ecstatic yes. In Midkiff’s post, she quotes CS Lewis who says
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
Unfortunately Lewis’ quote only gets us half the story. Lewis, as well as anyone who risked loving and being loved, knew the other half. We are going to be loved. There are only a few things in life you have no choice over, but being loved is one of those.
God is going to love us. We may choose not to recognize it or even fight against it, but we are going to be loved. To paraphrase Luther, only a little out of context, “we are free, yet bound.” We are free to run from God’s love as certainly as we are free to not be reconciled to a family member or open ourselves up to companionship, but we are bound by the love of God, who will love us in spite of ourselves and it is in that love we are released from our bondage to love others.
In Frozen I do know Elsa, our Snow Queen, runs off that she might never hurt another. This is her control of the matter or so she thinks. The thing with Elsa is she has a sister named Anna who loves her. Elsa has no choice in this matter; she is loved in spite of herself. Not to equate a Disney film too closely with the Gospel, but eventually Anna’s unselfish love creates a resurrection of sorts and from it is born those good things to be had in this life if we risk the courage to love and be loved.
This brings me back to Lewis. Love is a fearful and beautiful place. It strips us to the very core of our vulnerability. Perhaps it is best that one should shut their heart away and bury it in a coffin that it may become like ice or stone. Perhaps we can always keep it there in that dark and dank place. Perhaps or perhaps love will find us and pull free the nails from that awful wooden box and invite us to be fully alive as we give up any illusion of control in the matter knowing there are many good ways to love and be loved just as we know we love one another because of that most beautiful love….“He first loved us.”
That is love for you. Let the coffin of the heart be opened just a little and it will have the day. The heart of ice will melt and the heart of stone be replaced with a heart of flesh and with a new heart we will surrender our control, become vulnerable and open ourselves up to a place where we may love and be loved in return.
Image: Disney poster for Frozen. This image is in low resolution and believed to be fair use.