Let it go! Let what go?: 2 Cor. 10


IMG_0037Rd. 2 Cor. 10.  The lyrics of Idina Menzel’s LET IT GO in the movie Frozen claim that we should let go of being people pleasers.  The song proclaims power lies in being the queen of a kingdom of isolation.  If you watch the whole movie, of course, you discover that the plot negates this message of isolation. The Snow Queen’s desire for isolation just doesn’t work. Sacrificial love saves the day and allows the Snow Queen to harness her icy gifts for good and reunite with her estranged sister.

So why is it that these lyrics of frozen isolation ignite a fire in us?  See which parts below make you erupt internally with a silent chest thumping yes:

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation,
And it looks like I’m the queen.

So far, we’re with her.  It’s a beautiful place she’s traveled to, and it’s better than the persecution she’s left behind. There’s something gorgeous about untouched snow.

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried!

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well, now they know!

We’re still with our beautiful misunderstood heroine.  She tried to hide her curse, but she couldn’t.

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door!

I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

She’s unique. We’re all unique. We don’t want to hold back our gifts, even if they make others jealous. We agree. We’re with her still. Let it go, Elsa!!

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!

Yup. Agreed. Don’t let our fears control us.  We grip a fist and our internal song-o-meter’s are waiting for her to crescendo and belt out the let it go’s….

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry!

Here I stand
And here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on!

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone!

Here I stand
In the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway!

How can you not love a song that talks about our soul having “frozen fractals”?

But more to the point, something in our own frozen fractals rises up when we hear that we should let it go.  We know that’s right.  We sense deep down that there ARE things we should let go of.  We know there are things that are holding us back.  We know that we have to let go of some dreams, some relationships, and some bad patterns if we are to achieve our potential.  We agree that we have to stop holding in out of fear.  We know that the storms can rage on if we can find inner strength.  We sense that concealing our feelings, both from ourselves and others, isn’t the solution.  We clench a victory fist at the sentiment that if they can’t take me the way I am, then I would rather live all alone!  Ha, ha!  We’ve all felt that way.  And most of all, I think we know that we can’t live our lives trying to be the perfect girl, boy, woman or man.  We know that goal cripples us. Yes, we think.  We can let it go.  So there!

But if isolation isn’t the solution, what is it we’re supposed to let go of?  And how do we let go of that thing, whatever it is, in a way that unites us with other people instead of isolating us?

Brene Brown’s popular TED talk and book on vulnerability claims that we have to let go of all the things mentioned in this song – perfectionism, making choices in order to please others, hiding our true selves, etc. etc. – in order to achieve our full destiny.  It’s a message people love.  Yes, yes, we think.  We will  let go of that!  We will achieve our destiny!  We won’t let others hold us back, but we’ll get closer to them at the same time.  Ha, ha!

Brown claims we can do this by becoming vulnerable to others.  She claims that vulnerability is “strength”.  Brown adds that she starts each day with the mantra: “I am enough.”  She claims this enables her to be vulnerable and be a major player in her own life.

While Brown’s maxims sound good, the problem is that they’re hopeless.  First of all, we are NOT enough.  No human is enough.  We are all weak.  None of us reach the levels we aspire to.  We are mired in anxiety, self-pity, jealousy, greed, selfishness and other evil thoughts.  We have good thoughts, too, and good things, but in and of ourselves, we are needy hungry people, always restless and always longing for more.  We can let go of other people, absolutely, but we can never let go of ourselves, and to our horror we find all too often that our selves are selfish. We just aren’t enough. So we cannot in good faith start our days off by reciting something that isn’t true.

Second, vulnerability IS weakness.  By definition, a vulnerable place is the place where we can be hurt again.

So why would we choose vulnerability, if we are not enough and it is weakness? Perhaps Brown is close to the truth but missing the key ingredient.  She seems to be writing from a worldly perspective.  But perhaps there are two worlds to consider.  Perhaps there is the world we can see – the one full of untrustworthy people, including ourselves, and in that world vulnerability is dangerous by definition.  But perhaps there is also a spiritual world we cannot see.  And because the world we cannot see is the one for which we were made – because heaven is our true home – beautiful things happen when we obey the rules of that world.  The heavenly world says that humans are not enough, but God is enough.  The heavenly world says God loves us so desperately that He actually died to make us enough.  His “enoughness” covers our not-enoughness.   The cross makes up for the gap between who we want to be and who we really are.

And God says that the requirement for entering His heavenly world, is to be vulnerable.  He says we are to have soft hearts, capable of being hurt, because to have a soft heart opens us to joy, grace and peace.  To have a hard heart – closed to pain – cuts us off from love. To have a hard heart is to buy into the lie that we’re better than the people who hurt us.  God says to just let go of that lie.  He says, “come off it.  I adore you, my love, but you’re not so perfect either, are you?  And wouldn’t you rather live in my world, where you don’t have to be perfect?  Wouldn’t you rather hang with me and accept that you’re already loved?  Wouldn’t you rather let go of thinking you have to DO something to earn love?  Wouldn’t you rather let go of the prideful way of thinking that says you have to be better than others?

Okay, okay, fine, we mutter.  That does sound better.  So why is it so hard?

Welcome to the human race.

The good news is that God offers us spiritual weapons to address this spiritual problem.  The world we can’t see is full of power.  It has weapons that as Paul says here “are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds.”  2 Cor. 10:4.  Our fears – of trusting again, of letting go of the past, of being vulnerable, of letting go of what other people think, of being afraid to embrace the power of our gifts, of standing out from the crowd, of being different, of forgiving, of having people see us as less than the good girl, of letting others know we’re not perfect – are all thoughts that have set themselves up against a true knowledge of God.  We have to recognize where our thinking has “set itself up” against the knowledge of God.  We need to see where our fears are rational if based on the world, but irrational if we have faith.

Because God is faithful.  God is true.  God always protects us.  God loves us even though we’re not perfect.  God never lets us down.  God is always there for us.  We can rely on God.  We can trust God.  God is good.  God has good plans for our lives.  God works all things together for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose.

If we let go of fear and its evil twin pride, we will find the freedom this song taps into, the freedom we long for, the freedom we were made for.  We will find ourselves in a wide open spacious place.  We will find that our feet can run in the paths God has set before us.  We can be free.  By seeking God’s way – the way of tearing down the strongholds of pride, over and over, we can find the wisdom to let go of even good things that might not be good for us any more.  We can let go of work ventures that aren’t right for us anymore.  We can stop trying to please others, and work to please the God of love alone, even when He does sometimes lead us into frozen isolation, as Idina Menzel sings about so movingly in FROZEN.

Because God will never leave us in isolation.  Sometimes, like the Snow Queen, we climb an icy mountain alone, build a gorgeous crystal palace, change into a fabulous new sparkly outfit, let down our hair and discover our inner beauty and strength.  But we can never stay in that isolation.  And deep down, we don’t really want to.  We want to rejoin the world of warmth and love and relationships, just as the Snow Queen did.   Spending time alone with God in isolation – not with our self-pity – gives us the strength to be vulnerable.  It enables us to be open to others in a way that unites us to them.

As Philip Roth once said, it’s shame that unites us all.

Let it go. Let it go completely.  Our pride and its twin, fear, are holding us back from all that God wants us to receive.  The frozen fractals of our souls will melt the longer we look at how much He loves us.  We can let go of thinking we have to be enough, and embrace the fact that in Him we are more than enough.

We are loved unconditionally.  We are loved not based on anything we can or have done.  We are loved because God is love. Our perfect girl image cracked a long time ago, and Jesus already covered the gap with his perfection.  Jesus was the Snow King – He traveled alone to the holy mountain where He suffered and died to crack open our icy hearts.  All we have to do is let go of thinking and pretending we’re enough.  Then with our hearts softened by sacrificial love, just like the Snow Queen, we can embrace the concept that to trust God every minute of our days IS our destiny.  In Him, we find the perfect freedom we’ve always wanted but can’t find anywhere else.

In His kingdom, the snow always glows white on His holy mountain tonight.

posted by Caroline Coleman on October 9, 2014 in A Chapter a Day