Sunday, June 28, 2015

How Frozen keeps blessing my life

It's shocking how many monologues I've been starting lately with the phrase, "See, this reminds me of Elsa." Because isn't Elsa so relatable?

This is what I mean. Spoilers for those of you who somehow have managed to avoid seeing this precious film.
Elsa has ice powers.
Elsa and Anna play with her ice powers as children, and it's all fun and games until Anna gets hit in the head and the doctor who heals her foresees something terrible happening as a result of Elsa's powers.
Elsa and her parents misinterpret the doctor's warnings and decide the best thing is for Elsa to put on gloves and hide out in her room to keep from hurting anyone.
But at Elsa's coronation she loses control and the ice explodes all over the party.
Everyone is (understandably) freaked out, and Elsa runs away.
She sings "Let It Go", celebrating the fact that now she can let her ice powers run wild without having to worry about hurting anyone.
But that freedom is bittersweet because Anna comes to find her, and in the process ends up getting a dart of ice to the heart.
In the end, love of her sister drives her homeward, where the bad guy tries to do her in and Anna sacrifices herself to save Elsa and true love heals both frozen hearts. 
Watch it. You will laugh, you will cry, it will move you. Promise.

Hopefully the subtext here is pretty obvious. Elsa is afraid. She's afraid of a part of herself she can't control. She's afraid of her capacity to hurt other people. She isolates to avoid that fear, and when she runs away from everyone she thinks she's found freedom. And while she finally experiences the joy of being who she is, people still get hurt because she never learned to control her power. The happy ending finally comes when love trumps fear and Elsa gets her powers under control. 

Love casts out fear. I was going to get that tattooed on my chest, had the design and the parlor picked out and everything, until I realized I was too afraid of needles to go through with it. But it's a principle I would feel comfortable having permanently etched into my skin because I think I need the daily reminder: there is no fear in love.

Unfortunately, fear is perpetually present in my life. Fallen world. Sinful girl. There's a laundry list of fears floating around in my head right now, temporary and long-term, superficial and existential, stomach-fluttering and heart-sickening. It is what it is. I can't necessarily snap my fingers and be done with it, but I can dwell on love. There is a safety net. There are strong arms. There is a love with a depth and a width and a height and a length I cannot fathom. And that love is shown to me each day. When I am set on love the fear is less crippling. 

The other lesson here is to control what you can control. Fear leads to its own kind of defeatism. I trend towards laziness and I find it leagues easier to throw my hands up in the air and admit, "I'm screwed up and there's nothing I can do about it." And that's dangerous grounds because it leads to isolation. And then sometimes your greatest fears can come true. (Elsa locked herself in her room because she was afraid of hurting Anna again, and guess what, she ended up hurting Anna again. Life, amirite?)

But we're not helpless in the face of our demons. Fear doesn't win, love does. For Elsa, the love of her sister enabled her to get her ice powers under control. No longer afraid of what she could do, she harnessed them so Olaf could experience summertime in one piece. We have not only the precious love of the people who care about us, but the divine love of our God and the partnership of the Holy Spirit, who is with us reminding us that we are righteous in the eyes of the Lord and that we have a promise to one day be whole. 

You may be sick of hearing little girls belting out "Let It Go" on the streets, but dayum, it's a catchy song. We are not called the carry the guilt for the mistakes we've made; we are free and can rejoice that no burdens weigh on our shoulders any longer. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

It's okay to celebrate

Here is my confession: I waited with taunt anticipation for SCOTUS to release their opinions this morning, and when they announced that they were granting same sex marriage in all 50 states I wanted to CHEER! But I didn't, even though I was in the basement of a building housing a predominantly liberal office with only one other person who probably also felt like cheering. But I didn't cheer, and this is why.

I thought:

1. Is it okay that I'm happy about this?
2. Is my happiness about this incongruent with my faith?
3. WWJD . . .
4. Can't tweet about it either because my tweets go straight to my dad's phone.
5. I mean, my dad's a good man and he loves me, but he might think I've had a little too much of the liberalist Kool-Aide.
6. People are going to think I don't care what the Bible says.
7. Or they're going to think I'm just making things up.
8. Or they're going to think my brain is full of heresy.
9. Oh man, this is the normalization of evil, Satan wants me to cheer for marriage equality like he wants me to smile at the "Say Anything" sex scene or shrug off hooker jokes.
10. I'm probably wrong about everything.

But I couldn't stop thinking about it all day. Today felt special, historic. I read article after article, reactions from every faith blogger or journalist who has credibility with me, trying to find some explanation for or dissection of what I was thinking. My sister said that how the church responds today is really important. So I decided it was okay to celebrate.


1. Equal Protection

The Bible doesn't require you be a fan of the Constitution, so that's fine. If you're against the 14th Amendment, this idea won't matter to you. But for those of you who appreciate our structure of government as one that's better than most, this decision strengthened one of the greatest doctrines of our government. The law of our land says you can't treat one group of people differently than another. The equal protection clause assures fair treatment even when a huge portion of the nation stands against you. Sure, for the "moral majority" it's concerning to have your power circumvented, to have the court muzzle democracy. And yet, where the Athenian democracy went belly up the USA (struggles to do) does good. I'm thankful for a government that bats for the little guy, because it feels like that doesn't happen too often. That fairness is worth celebrating.

(Really. This does not affect us.) (Though if and when it does, I have something to say about that, too. Dig deep and stand with the persecuted church around the world.)

2. A Step Against Bigotry

It's one thing for us as believers to say we love gay people. I think we say it with good intentions, but also with naivete. There are people who have lost their jobs for the sole reason that they're gay. There are kids who have taken their own lives because they couldn't cope with social attitudes regarding same sex attraction. There are people who get mistreated and cussed out and called rude names because their haircuts were "too butch" or their nails were "too effeminate." We believers would call that wrong, but what do we do to change the cultural tide to treat people with respect? As same sex marriage brings about the normalization of gay relationships, I feel hopeful that this mistreatment will ebb. And I think it's okay to be excited for a cultural shift that will mean better treatment for a whole group of people.

3. A Refocus

There seems to be a tendency among believers to spend a lot of energy decrying the evil of sodomy*, presumably because the culture at large says the opposite. The culture at large actually says the opposite of believers a good portion of the time, because as Paul said, "When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness." The culture is going to be opposite us all the time, almost always. I'm not sure it matters all that much. Now that this issue is settled, maybe the faith community can refocus on the actual priority: preaching Jesus as the answer. I'M NOT SAYING SIN IS IRRELEVANT. But maybe now it will be easier for the church to treat sin like sin, instead of regular sin versus sin that is ALSO a hot button political issue. Because it's not about the politics, family, we know it's not. It's about Jesus and knowing Him better and knowing His love and showing His love to others.

As I believer, I think fairness, better treatment, and a clarified message are all things that are worth celebrating. Even when those things carry the baggage of normalizing sin.

I welcome the thoughts of believers who see where I'm coming from on this; I would like to know what you think about celebrating marriage equality within the contexts of the faith. To be honest, I'm not interested in hearing about the social ills of same sex marriage nor do I want to entertain any hand-wringing about the erosion of religious freedom. You may count my frankness about this intellectual dishonesty--it is, you're right--but I'm just looking for edification, not to change my mind.

Can believers celebrate today while still maintaining that sodomy* is a sin? Are the two mutually exclusive?

*I'm sorry to offend by using the term sodomy to mean any girl/girl or guy/guy sexual activity. It's an ugly word and I don't like saying it and I'm not even using it correctly, but I use the term to emphasize that the sin the Bible talks about is not "being gay" or experiencing same sex attraction but rather sexual activity with a person of the same gender.