Sometimes I learn profound lessons from unexpected sources, like when my preschoolers decided that they absolutely must watch Frozen about twenty-seven times in a row, and suddenly, after plopping onto the couch in resignation to watch it yet again, I had a Disney-princess-induced spiritual epiphany.
As a mom of boys, I never expected to have the princess craze hit our house, and seeing as how I’m a feminist scholar who isn’t precisely thrilled with the gender ideology behind most of those animated gals and their beaux, I certainly never thought that I would learn (or perhaps remember something I had forgotten) from watching a pair of princesses.
If you are one of the lucky adults who has not been subjected to Frozen enough times to have it memorized, the key detail here is that Princess Elsa is terrified of her icy magical powers, and in the end, what conquers that fear and saves the day is not a charming prince, but rather the love of her sister, Anna.
Here is what I learned from Frozen: Fear, like hate, is an opposite of love. Anxiety is the opposite of peace. And as a high-anxiety type, I often need to “Let it go!” First John 4.18 tells us, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear . . . and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.”
God is love, and during Advent we take time to reflect on how Jesus came to reveal that love to us. We celebrate Emmanuel. God with us. Love with us.
As we strive to be Jesus-followers, we should participate in that perfect love that conquers fear, even when a thousand voices on the TV and the radio and the internet tell us that there is some BIG NEW THING to be terrified about today.
Fear makes us withdraw and disengage in order to protect ourselves. It makes us fort up and then lash out when our defenses feel threatened. Fear turns our focus inward, but God calls us outward, to the love of family, friends, neighbors, strangers, and even enemies. God calls us out to compassion, involvement, and vulnerability. To love, not its opposites.
Fear and love do not easily coexist; we must let go of one to make room for its opposite.
Some days, I am rather terrible about remembering this. So during this Advent season, I have challenged myself to listen to the angel proclaiming in Luke 2.10, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy!” This is the marvelous news of God’s love abiding with us, of God becoming a participant in the human condition, of God choosing to be vulnerable, involved, and known to us.
In these last few days of Advent, I challenge you to read the Christmas story and hear the angel’s words again. If you are holding onto fear, listen to the angel, and let it go.
Let it go and see what it leaves room for in your soul.