I finally watched Frozen with my kids this week. It seemed fitting since Philly’s still a little frozen.
As in most Disney films, an act of “true love” saves the day. This act was interesting to me, since it wasn’t something that was done to the heroines, like a kiss from prince charming. It was something they demonstrated to one another: the self-sacrificing, fearless love of the younger sister melted the isolation and inhibition of the elder. The scene that brings everything to life again shows the older sister embracing her dead younger sister—hanging on her and grieving without inhibition—because her worst fear has been realized. Only in the death of her fear and self-reliance and self-importance is she finally free to love.
Yes, it’s Disney, but something about that embrace reminded me of Jesus’s invitation to follow him to the cross this Lent. In the days before his death, we see Jesus, the Fully Human One (as my hero Gordon Cosby calls him) facing down his impulses to self-preservation, self-determination, and self-defense. Instead of isolating, he lets himself be known. Instead of worrying about appearances, he receives an inordinate display of love. Instead of keeping his mouth shut, he speaks truth. Instead of fighting, he surrenders himself into God’s hands.
We all have our own process. If we have ears to hear, we will hear the invitation to become like Jesus in his death. What are we going to do with that? Jesus compares himself to a seed that falls to ground and dies, in order to produce many seeds. Because I am student of creation, I know that a seed has to be broken open (sometimes in frozen ground) in order to germinate. The willingness to be broken open and to give up our old defenses is an unavoidable part of the process to become something new.
Lots of self-proclaimed spiritual experts say we should just “let go” of our brokenness and fear or whatever stands in the way of our self-actualization. But even in the Disney movie, the older sister’s mantra to “let it go” doesn’t really seem to work for her, and I can’t say that it worked for me either. There are lots of great things I can do, but I can’t just “let go” of my hurts, my fears, my bad experiences, my mental blocks, my mortality, and my limitations on my own, even with good therapy. Our self-reliance has probably take us too far if we think we can! We can’t just “let go”—something needs to die—and Jesus really goes that far for to make us new creations. We need Someone beyond ourselves who knows, loves, and indwells us, to get us through death to resurrection. We need Jesus.
This is the embrace I am called to, as we move toward Easter. To embrace the cross, and to embrace Jesus there: broken, bleeding, beaten, faltering, on the street, and in my home. To break open and give up my old defenses. I don’t know what will happen, but it will be better than a Disney ending, because true Love is at work and victorious.