Spoiler alert: I suggest you watch the film before reading this.
Conceal, Don’t Feel
Lots of us, like Elsa, believe that if people really knew us fully, and saw all our flaws, there’s no way they would love us. So we don’t want people to know us fully, we want to isolate ourselves. This is partly selfish; we don’t want to give people the chance to judge us when they find out our shameful secrets, so we don’t let anyone get close enough to see the things we’re ashamed of. It’s also partly out of concern for others; like Elsa, we know we have some habits that have the potential to hurt other people if they get too close, so for their own sake we try to keep people at a safe distance away from the destructive storm going on inside us.
(In a vain attempt to salvage a tiny remnant of masculine respectability from a post about a Disney princess film, I’ll point to The Wall and Hurt as a couple of other examples of these concepts appearing in popular culture.)
Setting Elsa Free
Like Elsa, we do need forgiveness for things we’ve done, because we have done things that really hurt people and are offences against God. This is what The Bible calls “sin”.
Elsa was amazed by Anna’s love for her, because she knew she didn’t deserve it.
Elsa: “You sacrificed yourself for me?”
Anna: “I love you.”
The message of Christianity is that the God who already knows everything there is to know about us, including all our dirty secrets, loves us so much he was willing to be crucified in order to remove our guilt.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
He didn’t do that because we deserved it; he did it because he loves us. And he doesn’t love us because we’re good people (we’re not!); he loves us because that’s an expression of who he is. He is love (1 John 4:8).
“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” – Romans 5:8
Anna: “Please don’t shut me out again.
Please don’t slam the door.
You don’t have to keep your distance anymore.”
As Anna did with her sister, The Bible encourages people not to isolate themselves, but to confess the things they’ve done wrong, to bring them out into the open (James 5:16). And when we confess our sins to Christians, the response should reflect God’s response (if only this was always the case), i.e. without dismissing the problem as insignificant, we point back to the gospel of God’s love and sacrificial death for sinners, and his power to heal.
Thawing Anna’s heart
“An act of true love will thaw a frozen heart.”
For a while we’re lead to believe Frozen is just like those other rubbish movies where the “act of true love” is going to be a kiss. But actually it turned out that the act of true love that saved Anna was the sacrifice of her life to save her sister. Not only did Anna’s sacrifice save Elsa from the storm going on inside her (and from Hans), it thawed Anna’s own heart. Likewise, following Jesus involves sacrificing ourselves for others.
It might not always be as drastic as putting ourselves at risk of actual physical death for someone else; it might be as simple as giving up our time or money to give someone food or clothing, or visit them when they’re sick (Matthew 25:31-46), but “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” – Luke 17:33. To be clear, the point is not that by making those sacrifices we will earn ourselves a thawed heart, but that the act of giving is itself good for us (Acts 20:35).
So the more I think about it, the more I like this movie. Although, like Trevin Wax, I’m a bit confused that ‘Let It Go’ has been the hit song that’s come out of it. Why are people apparently celebrating Elsa’s isolation rather than her restoration?