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Letting it go

Aside from being way overplayed and oversung, Elsa's song quickly morphed into a cliche. In Frozen 2, even Elsa herself acknowledged the cheese of what "Let It Go" became after gazillions of five year old girls dressed in shimmering blue got their karaoke hands on it...


In the months after Frozen was first released, countless little girls took up the mic and belted out Elsa's song, which, on its own (when removed from her story) came off sounding defiant, as if Elsa were a bratty adolescent who just wanted to cast off the shackles of rules and authority.

Fair enough. I totally get it. Our human hearts are prone to defiance. It's quite possible to belt out "Let It Go" in your shower with the wrong heart, and use it to justify doing...whatever you want to do. No right. No wrong. No rules for me. I'm free.

But I'd like to suspend cynicism for just a moment to take very seriously what was happening in that moment for Elsa.

Contrary to what the Christian movie police were saying at the time, "Let It Go" was not primarily a song about celebrating rebellion, justifying immorality, or rejoicing in the self-gratifying benefits of moral relativity. "Let It Go" was about Elsa finally standing up to the fear she had been enslaved to for years, a fear which had destroyed her relationship with a sister she dearly loved and neutralized her ability to be of any use in the kingdom which was hers to rule.

The "it" Elsa needed to "let go" was her heart-freezing fear.

And not just fear of something she could freeze and kill, like a dragon or a foreign enemy. This was fear of herself, fear of what was most precious and powerful inside her. Fear of her gift. Fear of the very thing that should have enabled her to be a great sister and a powerfully wonderful queen.

Fear avoids and hides. Love draws in.

Just being a Christian does not guarantee you are living in love rather than fear. In fact, we are so prone to reducing our faith to a religious duty that it is very likely we will all need to continue to shed layers of religious fear in order for the sun of God's love to hit our skin and bring us to full life. God wants us to show ourselves to him, not to go on hiding in shame. Yet, sadly, many Christians live as if things are exactly the opposite, as if God has opened our eyes to our own sin so that we will cover up and hide. No! God wants full intimacy with us in a completely safe and accepting relationship, that we might know his radical love:

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:15-18a)

Not that we should ever leave behind the process of growing in holiness. But to grow in holiness, we don't just put off the power of sin. We have to put on the power of love. And that begins with loving and being loved by God, deeply and experientially. We don't remain in the legal courtroom with God forever. That's where he justifies us and adopts us. He raises his right hand and signs the documents and deals with the Law.

But then he takes us home. He wants to live with us. After a couple adopts a child, they move beyond the legal realities and they place their efforts on being a family. Love. Laughter. Friendship. Getting to know each other better and better.

For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:18b-19)

"Let It Go" isn't the end of Elsa's story. In fact, the movie showed us by the end that Elsa was actually pretty off when she sang that song. (Which is why it annoys me that people judged her for it. Give the girl some time, no one figures it out all at once.) Letting it go was just the very first step.

I think too many of God's children are still sitting in the courtroom. I see them there, on the hard wooden bench, trying to have a relationship with God. Over and over again they thank him for adopting them. They dwell on the fact that they didn't deserve it. They stoke their guilt by being ever mindful of all the ways they continue to let God down, and they bring these all to the stand - even though the trial has ended a long time ago. There God's precious adopted children sit, in the courtroom.

God says, "Come home with me. Let's be family. Let it go - all that you're afraid of in yourself, all that you've done to hurt others, all that you don't understand about the way things have gone. Just let it go. You're mine now."

It's good and proper to be sensitive to the fact that you are a sinner. The Holy Spirit continually opens our eyes to sin. But his goal in doing so is not to chain you to the courtroom bench, or to perpetuate the fear of punishment or failure, or to build an ice castle and remove any risk of ever showing your true self again. Your true self is indeed where that sin came from. But your true self is also where your most exciting God-given powers lie.

What are you afraid of in yourself? Afraid to let others see, for fear it will drive them away and make them cover their faces from you? You've probably hurt people with this very deep part of you, but this is what God wants to redeem with his love. Maybe it's your sharp mind or your powerful way of speaking. Maybe it's a keen sense of awareness or emotional sensitivity, that you hide under a veil of constant joke-telling or defensive passivity. Maybe you just don't trust yourself. Take this fear of yourself to God and ask him to begin revealing his love for you in that very place. Tell God you want to let go of your fear in favor of his love.

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