Yesterday we had our staff Christmas party for work. After a delicious lunch, and silly white elephant gift exchange, we headed out to do our staff activity. The original plan was to go bowling, but was changed in favor of seeing the Disney movie “Frozen.” Three of the seven of us had already seen it, but they enjoyed it so much that they were happy to see it again. So off we head, seven adults to go see a cartoon. Rather a silly sight…until you experience seeing this movie.
This is not a movie review, and I promise not to be a spoiler for those who haven’t seen the movie. I had high hopes for it going in….several friends had already shared how much they loved this film, and how wonderful it was both for their children and for them. And if it was a movie review….well, two thumbs up! =) Fantastic music, enough silliness and giggles for the children, adventure, awesome animation….I could go on. And if you want to go and just enjoy, do that. Enjoy it for the spectacle that it is.
However, it can be so much more. It can be fodder for deep, stimulating conversations about the overarching themes of fear and love. It can be a way to stir up discussions on longing, family, and sacrifice. Watching it with other adults can help you see the depth that lies under the laughter, the significance of the subtle. It brings scripture verses to mind: 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out all fear… ” and John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
The basic premise begins with two sisters, Elsa (the older one) and Anna. Elsa was born with magical abilities of creating snow and ice. Her parents encouraged her to hide these abilities, out of fear of what those in the kingdom would think. The words “Conceal, don’t feel” were ingrained within her. Elsa grew older, becoming more fearful of her abilities, ostracizing those who loved her, and separating herself from the world. Hidden away, her fears grew, imprisoning her, while her sister Anna longed for the relationship they had as small children, ached for Elsa’s friendship and love. (Okay, that is all I will tell you about the movie, I swear. )
Conceal, don’t feel. How many times do we hear this? How often do we say it to others, to our children? Perhaps not those exact words, but haven’t we all heard and used phrases like “Boys don’t cry,” and “Suck it up, buttercup?” In other words, don’t feel what you are feeling, or at the very least, don’t let us see it. We (the world) don’t appreciate knowing that you are hurting, that you are wounded. Keep it to yourself.
“Get over it.”
Conceal, don’t feel.
Let me tell you, people, this doesn’t work. Sure, being able to control your emotions is a good thing many a time. Losing self-control in a fit of rage and running someone over with your car is not a good idea…..or even flicking them a certain finger in traffic isn’t such a polite outlet of anger. However, ignoring emotions, hiding them, pretending they aren’t there, never allowing the others in your life to see the depths of your pain, anger, sadness or frustration…it just doesn’t work. Eventually, it begins to destroy you, from the inside out. Anger simmers beneath the surface, threatening to blow up and wound those caught in its shrapnel. Anxiety clenches your belly, causing ulcers and other physical troubles. Fear cages you, shrinking the world around you, until the desire is to only do what you have always done, never enjoying new experiences, never challenging yourself to grow and change. As a massage therapist, I was always fascinated by the way the body would hold on to emotions, and cause binding, restrictions and pain within the muscles. As people would talk about certain things, their bodies would react with the emotions, even when their faces and voices seemed unemotional. When we stifle our feelings, stuffing them down, concealing them from even ourselves, they come out eventually, in one way or another. Our bodies don’t lie, even when our voices do.
Conceal, don’t feel.
It just doesn’t work to try to hide our emotions, not from others, not from ourselves, not from the One who created us to feel. The longer we hide who we are, our truest self, the more detached we become from that self. It takes a lot of healing, a lot of work, a lot of prayer, to get back to that true self, back to the person God created us to be. It takes us being honest with ourselves first, and then with those around us. It takes a certain amount of vulnerability and courage, trust in those we love, and a faith that Perfect Love will drive out the fear.
It takes a faith that we will still be okay, still be loved, even in our messiness, in our brokenness. Faith that those around us will stand by us, rooted and grounded in love. Faith that our Heavenly Father will be our rock, our fortress against the world that batters us. Faith that He will shepherd us in the way He promised, guiding us, gathering us to Him. This is what we need, what we ache for in our dry bones, an aching to feel the fullness of what this life offers us, the spectrum of emotions we are capable of as humans, created in the image and likeness of the Creator.
This is what He desires, what He wants for us, for this full and beautiful life.
Feel, don’t conceal.