Snarled Habits

I have a bone to pick with Disney. Sure, they have crafted a remarkable movie with their new animated success, Frozen. Sure, the story is complicated in a good way, the characters are captivating, the music is varied and catchy, and the animation is Disney’s usual stellar work. Sure, I laughed and I cried and the kids wanted to stay to watch it again. Sure, when it comes out OnDemand or on DVD we’ll have to watch it again. Sure, it has lasting power. But.

Here’s my problem. The character of Elsa, the older sister, the one with the frozen powers, spends her entire childhood growing fearful of her powers, trying to control them, hide them, contain them. She is taught “not to feel” so that her powers are not released in emotion. Seems natural. When she finally breaks free of this, when she claims her powers and embraces a new life of triumphant aloneness, it is still fear that terrorizes her. She’s afraid she will hurt others, afraid that she might be the monster the townspeople call her. In her case, fear manifests itself in shards of ice and it drives her to do desperate things. How true. Even in her “freedom,” there is fear… until her sister, Anna, does the unthinkable and the main characters realize that “love can thaw a frozen heart.” In a remarkable moment of enlightenment, love turns winter into spring, a frozen, fearful heart into an open and sunny one.

There’s my problem. Because while love does have enormous redemptive power, the habit of fear is very difficult to break.

“Jesus is able to untangle all the snarls in my soul, to banish all my complexes and to transform even my fixed habit patterns.” – Corrie ten Boom

It happened again this morning. Fear, that is. I was helping to present an interpretative nativity during the Sunday morning service at church. My role was to scowl and hold an unapproving pose aimed at poor Mary as she learns from the angel her future and as she bends her will to God’s and celebrates with Elizabeth this miracle. In the middle of that, came fear. The old lies. “You can’t do this. You’re going to faint and make a big spectacle.” My heart could probably be heard in the back pew. My head grew black. I shifted position. And then the words of Mary clarified. Praise and thanks. Praise and thanks. Thank you God. Thank you God. Thank you God. And we were done and I hadn’t fainted and the lies were just that… lies.

Before the second service, I prayed hard. “Father God, you are faithful and good and you saved me before. Jesus, at your name every knee shall bow. In the name of Jesus, my savior, I denounce the lies and the fear. Jesus my savior. Jesus.” Tears like sweat dripped from my face and it was time to pose again. It was over before I realized completely. Did you see the smile on my face as I left? Fear conquered. Fear? What fear?

Like God stepping down from heaven in the skin of a baby, miracles happen. It was as though He said the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary to me, “Greetings favored woman.”

The thing is that fear is a well-ingrained habit, a complex, a major tangle and snarl in my life, as it was in Elsa’s. It has grown roots, planning to stay for a while, for eternity. Shards of glass, harsh words, desperate moves and it grows and grows.

And while love does in fact temper and melt and calm and lighten, it is not an immediate fix. It is the fix, God’s love. Experiencing and claiming and clinging to it is miracle pill. But fear always lurks, hoping to find me unprepared, to find a foothold, a crack in the wall, a sliver of doubt on which to prey.

Pray. In prayer, I come before God, claim my place next to the throne, embrace my role and the words He uses for me, for you… BELOVED. Beloved daughter, beloved son.

It takes discipline to remember, to pray. It isn’t a quick remembrance always.

So, for Elsa. Her transformation? Does she have moments where she forgets? Does fear strike again and again and again? What does she do when bad things happen to shake her? Disney… you wrapped it up too neatly. We humans aren’t like that. We aren’t solved so easily. Our winter habits… like every year… they come back.

Keep taking it to God.

“Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.” – Psalm 37:24

Comments are closed.
%d bloggers like this: