Anyone Else Feel Like Elsa in Disney’s Frozen?

Elsa, feeling trapped by her gifts. {Image from,}

Elsa, feeling trapped by her gifts. {Image from,}

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know I’ve got four daughters. The youngest lives her life in song. It won’t surprise you, then, that when we spent a day together this week, she asked to see the singalong version of Disney’s Frozen. The movie we’ve seen four times already.

I’d rather pull out my eyelashes one by one rather than sit through a kids’ film for a fifth time, but this one’s an exception. Mostly because Elsa. . . well, I get her.

Elsa, like each of us, has a unique gift. And hers scares the living daylights out of her.

Born with abilities to create and manipulate ice and snow, we watch her at first loving her gifts as she giggles and plays with her sister. As she tries new things and her sister stretches her to use her gifts bigger, faster, Elsa realizes they’re bigger than she can handle. And that they can go either way: to bring joy or bring pain to people around her.

She grieves that loss of control over her gifts.

Her parents teach her denial, reminding her to “Conceal it. Don’t feel it,” when she’s overwhelmed by her powers. She then starts to bargain with herself: “Don’t let them see. . . be the good girl you always have to be,” as if squeezing in to someone else’s normal was possible. Grief’s anger stirs when her sister Anna asks her to play instead of stay locked in her room. Elsa yells, “Go away Anna!” then sinks into tears and depression, helplessness over her gifts that feel like a curse.

We all go through those same stages of grief when we begin to see our God-designed strengths in their fullness.

At first, we’re excited. The gift is an open door to experiences that somehow our hearts feel built for. When I first started speaking I had that experience. To be asked to stand in front of people and encourage them face to face—what joy! What a privilege!

Then we start to try to control (bargain with) them. When my first critical email arrived? I shrunk back. Suddenly I realized the gift was beyond my control. People would see it as they saw it, and I couldn’t control that. I could study the craft, learn to speak clearer, more dynamically. I could ask questions about groups I’d visit, and tailor the talk to their community. I could pray, study scripture, practice the talk until I had it memorized.

But it was never mine to control.

When some unforeseen situation results from exercising our gifts, we get scared, then angry at ourselves for messing it up. Or at God for messing us up by giving it to us in the first place.

We think, “God, can’t you see I’m not cut out for this? That it’s too much for me?”

And that’s when we have an Elsa moment. At the end of the movie, her sister Anna jumps between Elsa and the traitorous prince Hans, saving her sister with an act of true love.

Suddenly Elsa’s gift isn’t terrifying anymore. In that moment, she realizes the only thing that makes our talents good is letting love fuel them.

For us, of course, it’s not just a sister’s love (though that has gotten me through some seriously tough times with my own growing gifts!) but the love of One who invented the concept. The One who loves us enough to have given up everything to give us a shot at life and eternity. Perfect—complete—love that casts out all fear, even our fears of ourselves.

It’s only when God’s love powers our gifts that we can see–and trust–the good they can do for the world. {tweet this}

Apart from His love, as Scripture says, we can do nothing. Or worse, we end up freezing the world (relationships, jobs, opportunities) like Elsa when fear, not love, powered her gifts.

It’s scary to realize God’s given a sliver of His power to us, mere humanity. But what if we used that fear to drive us toward The Love that animates our gifts, instead of letting fear cripple who God meant us to be? What miraculous change, healing or growth could happen then?

Your friend in finding out,

– Laurie

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  1. Elsa says

    Elsa is my life, I can really relate to her. I hide a lot from people, I don’t want to hurt anybody. My first name is Elsa and when I heard about her and how her name was Elsa, that just brought things to a whole new level for me.

    • says

      Wow, I’m so glad you stopped by and shared a bit of your story. We talk about these kinds of themes a lot here. I hope the words bring good tools, hope, and help to you.

  2. Jennifer Hallmark says

    This movie was life-altering for me. God spoke so much to me through the song she sings “Let it go.” He is amazing!