In the Disney film “Frozen,” there comes a point when Elsa, the queen, reveals her powers with ice and snow to the people, and because of their fear is forced to flee. All her life, she had hidden her powers from the world. But now in exile, she is determined to “Let it go.” To be all she can be. And so she sings,
It’s time to see what I can do.
To test the limits and break through.
No right, no wrong, no rules for me.
But her “freedom” is short-lived, for when her sister Anna comes, she tells Elsa the mess she has made of everything by “letting go” of her “true self.” And so Elsa sings,
Oh I’m such a fool, I can’t be free!
No escape from the storm inside of me!
I can’t control the curse!
There’s so much fear!
And when Anna tries to convince her she can repair things, Elsa cries out, “I can’t.”
I wonder how many people who love the song “Let it go” ever realize what Elsa realizes later. True freedom doesn’t come in simply “letting go” and “discovering ourselves.”
For what is in us will destroy us. And what’s left is fear of what we are and the realization that we ultimately can’t fix things on our own.
But so many people fail to understand this. Paul says of them that they walk, “in the futility of their minds.” More, he says,
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. (18-19)
Not all of this, is directly applicable to Elsa, of course. Frozen is not meant to be a Christian allegory. But she was darkened in her understanding as to who she was truly meant to be. She was ignorant due to the hardening of her heart to the people who had rejected her. And as a result, she simply “let it go,” living her own way, and thinking herself free.
In the same way, many people today are darkened in their understanding of who they were truly meant to be. They’re ignorant due to the hardening of their hearts, not to a God who has rejected them, but to a God who in love fashioned them into his own image.
But in rejecting God, and who he created them to be, they lose sight of who they really are. They throw off the “shackles” of right and wrong, living their own way, thinking they will find freedom. But in the end, they find they are not free at all. That by “letting it go” and living their own way, they actually make a total mess of things, a mess they cannot repair.”
But Paul says that as Christians, we are not to live that way anymore. Rather, we are to put off the old self. That is, put off our old attitudes and habits we had when we were living in rebellion against God because they are utterly corrupt and will destroy us if we follow them. (22)
What’s the main thing to let go of? Trying to be independent of God and live our own way. Living this way doesn’t make us free. It ultimately becomes a curse to us and binds us.
Instead, Paul says we are to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. In other words, let God change our hearts and minds, and put on the new self. What is the new self? It’s a life, “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (23-24)
That’s what we are meant to be. To be like God. This is not to say that we will all be carbon copies of each other. We all have our gifts and talents. We all have our own personalities. We don’t lose them when we turn to God. Rather, just as Elsa’s gifts at the end of the movie, they become the beautiful things they were meant to be. We become the beautiful creation God meant us to be.
But for that to happen, we need to let go of the attitudes of independence and self-sufficiency from God. And we need to embrace who we were meant to be: people created in his image.