by: Staci Stallings
Okay, I mentioned that I loved the Disney movie “Frozen.” I’m sure you thought, “Ah, how cute.” Well, I have now seen it SIX times… in the theater… this last time in 3-D.
Now I haven’t been to the movie theater six times in the last five years if you count all the times I’ve gone to see ANY movie much less one movie! So there’s got to be something special about this one that keeps dragging me back. (My husband says he should have bought stock in the movie when it came out to recoup some of his investment!)
But I have to say, each time I go, I get it on a different level, and this time was no different.
You see, before I was so focused on Elsa’s curse/gift/talent–the ability to freeze things–that I completely missed the REAL issue of the movie.
Yes, her unique gift is a challenge, but it is NOT what dooms her to the life she almost literally is locked into. I don’t know why I didn’t see it the first five times, why I didn’t realize this subtle but mind-blowing distinction.
I think I was so focused on her power and her desperate attempts at controlling it, that I didn’t see the crux of the problem. The problem wasn’t the powers. It was fear.
Fear that others would find out.
Fear that others would not understand.
Fear that she would hurt those she loved with it.
It was the fear that drove her deeper and deeper inside of herself, locking out the world, terrified to touch anyone or let anyone close.
Fear was the problem, not her unique abilities.
Is that an epiphany for me!
You see, for years that was me. I was afraid. It wasn’t my unique and cool abilities that were the problem. It was that I was in so much fear about them.
I hid them. I mitigated them. I stoically kept them locked inside of me, afraid that others wouldn’t understand or that they would judge me for them, afraid I might hurt others if I let them see the real me.
You think I’m being dramatic, but that is really, honestly what was going on inside of me. You see, I was really smart. I think my memory borders on photographic. I could remember things that happened in kindergarten as if they happened ten minutes ago. Schoolwork came easy, understanding things was like clicking two pieces of a puzzle together–sometimes a challenge, but always doable.
And that upset many of my friends and people I desperately wanted to be close to–or at least to like me and not be put-off because I knew things they didn’t. I didn’t do it on purpose, but I figured out pretty early on that speaking up when I could help in a situation was not a good idea. I learned not to raise my hand because others then just let me answer everything. My “gift” became my “curse.”
So I went into hiding.
I wrote songs that no one ever heard.
I learned to play the piano and played only at home for a long time with my mom or my sister in the room.
As I got older, I learned to compartmentalize everything. If you knew that I wrote books, you did not know that I directed plays at church. If you knew I sang in our choir at home, you didn’t know I substituted at school. In fact, many parents at my kids’ schools didn’t even know I was an author, and I’m sure some still don’t–especially if they just know me in passing.
I thought this way of living insulated me from people who would think me stuck on myself if they knew my talents. I thought by keeping mum, I was protecting them from feeling bad and myself from being judged.
But what I’m learning is that only by letting the light in you shine can you ever give others the greenlight to turn their lights on as well.
Fear is what held me back. Fear is what said others wouldn’t like me for being who I am so I should hide it.
Thinking about the movie now, I realize how incredibly profound the writers had to be in order to fashion this story because it is when Elsa is in fear that the “storm” inside her gets worse. The fear begins when her powers accidentally hurt someone she loves, and they only grow stronger with the admonition to “conceal, don’t feel.”
Let me tell you, from experience, that is EXACTLY the WRONG advice!
Learn to feel!!!!!
To let your feelings out.
Yes, some of them are painful, but that’s okay.
Keeping them locked inside will never work long-term as Elsa eventually learns.
So who knows if I will get to go see it again before it’s out of the theaters, but I am so thankful that God set it up so I went the day it came out–though I still can’t quite believe how He accomplished that.
Maybe this movie hasn’t snagged anyone else on the planet. Maybe it just seems like a fairy tale or a cute movie about a reindeer and a snowman (and it is that too!), but maybe, just maybe, there are other Elsa’s like me out there.
Young women and men who for a moment will begin to understand that hiding your gifts, being afraid of them and trying to hide them will not work. Maybe some parent somewhere will recognize and understand that in their child is something truly special and rather than shaming them and trying to teach them to hide that it will teach them instead to get in there and help their children learn to be themselves and use the gifts they have been given!
That is my hope because I know what a difference it’s made for me…