Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Beyond "Let It Go"

(Guest post by Alex)

One night, I walked in on my parents, my niece and my nephew watching Frozen. Viewers may know that this is a story about a princess who has special powers involving snow and ice.  She struggles to control these powers, as they are closely related to how she is feeling, and it sparks fear in people of Arendelle.  She gets taught, or eventually learns, to “conceal” and “not feel.”  Eventually she leaves Arendelle and heads into the mountains, in part, to protect her sister and others she loves.  There’s an element of shame and self-hatred for this part of her.  There in the mountains, she “lets go” and creates several things made out of ice and sees what she can do.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that the story of Elsa was compared to “being yourself” and “letting go” of all restraint, no matter the moral consequences.  Some people loved it for that reason.  Other people were opposed.  However, I was shocked at how much I resonated with her story this time.  I’d like to share a slightly different take on it

“Don’t feel…” Being raised in the Church I knew what “not to do” by way of the commandments, but I accidentally learned to fear my own humanity, as if my being was somehow opposed to God and His laws.  I had inclinations and habits that I was ashamed of and I tried to stuff them away in order to be “good enough” for God.  I reckon all of us might have aspects about ourselves that we are ashamed of, whether they be temptations, our body image, or simply passions and desires that go along with being human beings.  We attempt to hide them from God out of shame…as if He doesn’t already know every aspect of our being.

“Let it Go” is a song that I know was problematic for some people, as I mentioned. The thing is, many different interpretations are understandable.  For me this song was an example of Elsa “letting go” of the things people said about her and her powers and that expectation to “not feel.” This could be any sort of unhelpful and unintentional cultural baggage that Latter-day Saints and other people of faith might pick up on their journeys trying to follow the Savior. It’s “letting go” of the negative views of one’s self and his or her attributes.

This “letting go” might look different in a variety of ways…it’s a process I’m still going through, but I’m also learning more about what a personal relationship with Christ can be like and that I can trust myself when I’m in alignment with Him on the “little things,” like scripture study, temple attendance and fervent prayer.  I am “letting go” of various expectations that were unintentionally put upon me by others and finding a deeper moral compass.  I am “letting go” of the “should’s” and “shouldn’t’s” and finding a more earnest desire to follow Christ.  I am opening my heart and allowing Him to see and love all of me.

This next part is the part that I often feel gets left out when creating an analogy to Elsa’s powers.  Elsa eventually learned to appreciate her powers and use them for good. This is parallel to when I think of using my own gifts, attributes and passions “within the bounds the Lord has set.” My covenants with Him are still important. And I believe those boundaries have helped me to understand myself from a place of safety…and yet I know the Atonement is there for me too if I do make mistakes, and I didn’t appreciate it enough before.

Just as Elsa released herself from the shackles of what other people thought and expected, I too am learning to discern between what other people think versus what God thinks.  Knowing that He loves me fully and perfectly…that He understands my every desire and inclination…and that His love will be there no matter what I choose to do with my life…that kind of love makes me want to stay as close to Him as possible.

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